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Inguinal hernia repair (open)

Open inguinal hernia repair is recommended if you have a hernia that causes pain, severe or persistent symptoms, or any serious complications develop.

Meshes For Hernia

Hernias happen when an internal part of your body pushes through a weakness in its surrounding muscle or tissue wall.

An inguinal hernia usually happens when fatty tissue or a part of your bowel, such as your intestine, pokes through into your groin at the top of your inner thigh. It is the most common type of hernia, and mainly affects men. Inguinal hernias can occur naturally over time as you age and the muscles surrounding your tummy become weaker, or when you put too much pressure on your tummy. For example, if you cough or sneeze too hard.

Is open inguinal surgery right for you?

Although inguinal hernias can cause persistent pain and swelling around your tummy and groin, they can be repaired using surgery. Hernias do not go away without surgery, but some people can delay having it for years by effectively managing their symptoms with lifestyle changes and medication.

If you have severe pain caused by an inguinal hernia, or if your hernia is interfering with your ability to perform everyday tasks and live an active, fulfilled lifestyle, you might benefit from open inguinal repair surgery. There are two main techniques used to perform inguinal repair surgery. These are:

Open surgery

When your consultant repairs your hernia by pushing the lump from your groin back into your tummy through a cut in your tummy.

A laparoscopy

When your consultant inserts a thin tube with a camera and light attached to the end of it (a laparoscope) through small cuts in your tummy to perform the procedure. This is attached to a monitor that displays images of your tummy. This is a less invasive, but more difficult technique.

Both techniques can effectively treat an inguinal hernia. Your consultant will explain which is best for you depending on your circumstances. On this page, we focus on key information about open inguinal repair surgery, including what happens during the procedure and its typical recovery timeline.

Your consultant will begin the procedure by making a long incision over the area of the hernia. They will then gently push the lump of fatty tissue back into the correct position in your tummy. Next, they will place mesh (a medical device that supports damaged tissue around a hernia as it heals), over the weakened part of your abdominal wall to support and strengthen the weak spot where your hernia has pushed through. The mesh will be attached with stitches, surgical staples, or specialist glue.

Open inguinal hernia repair is usually carried out under local anaesthetic or a regional anaesthetic injected into your spine to numb your lower body. This means you will be awake during the procedure, but you won't feel anything.

The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes. It is usually performed by a general surgeon. General surgeons perform a variety of minor and major procedures, and are highly experienced in surgery for all kinds of hernias. 

You should no longer have the hernia.

Surgery should prevent the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow you to return to normal activities.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

A hernia usually does not go away without surgery.

Non-surgical approaches such as wearing a corset, binder, or truss may exert gentle pressure on the hernia and keep it in place.

These alternatives may ease your pain or discomfort, and can be used if you are not fit for the surgery or waiting to have surgery.

Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider when having open inguinal hernia repair surgery. You can speak to your doctor for more information about the following complications:

General complications of any operation

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring of your skin
  • Blood clot in your leg
  • Blood clot in your lung

Possible complications of hernia surgery

  • Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) at the site of the original hernia
  • Continued discomfort or pain in your groin
  • For men, discomfort or pain in your testicle on the side of the operation
  • For men, difficulty passing urine
  • For men, damage to the blood supply of your testicle

You should be able to return to the hospital on the same day after surgery. You will likely experience pain and tiredness for a few days following surgery, but this can be managed with traditional painkillers. You should arrange for someone to collect you from hospital, because you won't be able to drive until the anaesthesia wears off. We can arrange for a taxi to collect you, if needed.

It is normal to have bruising where your hernia was, and sometimes around your genitals while you recover. 

Your consultant will provide your tailored advice on how to recovery safely at home, including how to wash your wound, when to rest, and how to eat properly to avoid constipation.

You can usually shower between 24 and 48 hours after surgery. You should avoid strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting, for around three to four weeks. You can return to light activities, such as swimming and gentle walking, after two weeks. 

Most people return to work after two weeks and make a full recovery from open inguinal hernia repair within six weeks.

When you choose to go private with Circle Health Group, you can expect:   

  • Flexible appointment times and locations to fit your routine  
  • The freedom to choose which hospital and consultant suit your needs  
  • Personalised, consultant-led treatment plans tailored to your individual needs  
  • Comfortable and safe private facilities maintained by expert multidisciplinary teams  
  • Support by the same compassionate clinical team from beginning to end  
  • Affordable, fixed-price packages with aftercare included  
  • Flexible payment options to spread the cost of your care

If you would like to learn more about this procedure, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly on 0141 300 5009.

Specialists offering Inguinal hernia repair (open)

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Mr John Loy

Consultant Upper GI and Bariatric Surgeon

MB BCh FRCSEd (Gen Surg)

The London Independent Hospital

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Mr Howard Joy

Consultant General & Colorectal Surgeon

MBBS BSc FRCS(General Surgery)

The Priory Hospital

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Mr Jonathan Paul Trickett

Consultant General, Laparoscopic & Colorectal Surgeon

MBBS DM FRCS(Eng) FRCS(General Surg)

The Runnymede Hospital 1 more The Princess Margaret Hospital

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Mr Amir Hussain

Consultant General Surgeon


Ross Hall Hospital 1 more Ross Hall Clinic Braehead

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Ms Lynn Stevenson

Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon

MBChB University of Aberdeen 2001 Masters in Medical Law (MML) University of Glasgow 2009 FRCS(Ed) Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh 2010

Albyn Hospital

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Mr Makhosini Mlotshwa

Consultant General Surgeon

MBChB, FCS (Gen Surg), FRCS (Eng)

Goring Hall Hospital

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