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Laparoscopic (keyhole) inguinal hernia surgery

Inguinal hernia repair surgery is recommended if you have a hernia that causes pain, severe or persistent symptoms, or serious complications

A hernia happens when an internal part of your body pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle. An inguinal hernia is when a section of your bowel (such as your small intestine) or some of your abdominal fatty tissue pushes through a weakness in the abdominal wall.

Although there are certain medications and lifestyle changes that manage the symptoms of a hernia, hernia repair surgery is the only way to correct the problem. If you have painful or uncomfortable symptoms as a result of your inguinal hernia, surgery might be the best option for you.

Inguinal hernia repair surgery is a very common operation that offers great results. It can not only fix the hernia but also stop the problem from happening again. At Circle Health Group our experienced general surgeons perform thousands of successful inguinal hernia repair operations every year.

Is laparoscopic (keyhole) inguinal hernia surgery the right choice for me?

There are two main types of surgery for inguinal hernias: open and keyhole.

Open surgery is where your surgeon uses a large cut in your tummy to access your abdomen, allowing them to repair and strengthen your abdominal wall, correcting the hernia.

Laparoscopic or ‘keyhole’ hernia surgery is where your surgeon uses a number of small cuts in your abdomen to access your hernia. A tool called a laparoscope allows them to see inside without making larger cuts, and they use specially made small surgical tools to repair and strengthen the abdominal wall, repairing the hernia.

Laparoscopic surgery is less invasive than open surgery, because the surgeon does not need to ‘open you up’. It can allow for less pain after surgery as well as a faster recovery time. However, it is a more complicated technique, and it’s not appropriate in every case.

Your consultant general surgeon will decide which type of surgery is best for you based on your individual circumstances, and they’ll tell you exactly why they’ve made the decision.

This page focuses on laparoscopic or ‘keyhole’ surgery for inguinal hernias. You’ll find everything you need to know about the operation, from what happens during surgery to how soon you will recover.

We also have a page on open inguinal hernia repair surgery.

An inguinal hernia is when a section of your bowel (often your small intestine) or some of your abdominal fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in your abdominal muscles and into your inguinal canal (a tunnel that runs through your abdominal wall). The inguinal area is more commonly known as the groin area. 

There are two types of hernias that happen in the inguinal canal: indirect inguinal hernias and direct inguinal hernias.  

An indirect inguinal hernia forms when the internal entrance to your inguinal canal, which normally closes after you are born, remains open. In most cases, an indirect inguinal hernia is diagnosed before a baby’s first birthday. But it is possible for this hernia to appear in your adulthood.  

A direct inguinal hernia is more prevalent among adults. It develops when a part of your bowel bulges through a weak spot in your abdominal muscles and into your groin. This type of inguinal hernia tends to happen as we age, because the muscles around your abdomen (tummy) weaken as you become older. 

Inguinal hernias occur much more commonly in men, though women can get them too. They become more likely the older we get.  

The cost of inguinal hernia surgery starts from around £3,408.*

Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant’s outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.

Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your treatment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required. If you decide to pay over 10 months, you will pay interest-free. If you are paying for a longer period, you will pay 14.9% APR.

If you have private health insurance, hernia surgery will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.

*This is a guide price for patients who are paying for their own treatment. The actual cost of your treatment will be confirmed in writing at the time of booking.

Inguinal hernias can cause symptoms including: 

  • A burning or aching sensation around the bulge 
  • A bulge in the area on either side of your pubic bone 
  • Pain and swelling in your groin 
  • Pain and swelling in your tummy 
  • Severe pain when straining your tummy, such as when you cough or sneeze 
  • A bulge that becomes bigger when you strain and disappears when you lie down 

Laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair surgery is usually recommended if you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms and they are affecting your quality of life.  

For some people, it is possible to manage or reduce their hernia symptoms using medication or lifestyle changes.  

However, hernia repair surgery is the only available treatment that can actually fix the problem. No other treatment method will actually repair the hernia.  

Can an inguinal hernia be dangerous?

In some cases, inguinal hernias can cause serious difficulties. This is usually because they become ‘incarcerated’, which means the part that is pushing through the abdominal wall can’t be pushed back in.  

If this happens, there’s a chance that the hernia can become ‘strangulated’, which means the blood supply is cut off. This can cause very serious issues. Incarcerated and strangulated hernias need to be operated on straight away.  

Symptoms of an incarcerated hernia include:  
  • A hernia bulge that doesn’t go away any more 
  • Redness around the area 
  • A hernia bulge that’s bigger than before 
  • Fever  
  • Sudden or severe pain 
  • Bloating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain 

If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help straight away.   
Even if you don’t have these hernia symptoms, you should always see a doctor if you think you have a hernia, just to be safe. 

Your initial consultation is the first appointment you have with your hernia specialist, who will usually be a consultant general surgeon.  

This is a very important part of your treatment journey. Your consultant will use this session to get to know you and your symptoms. Sometimes they will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan during this session. In other cases, you might need extra tests or scans in order to confirm a diagnosis, in which case your consultant will be in touch later with next steps.  

During the consultation, you’ll be asked to give a detailed medical history, and there will probably be a short physical examination of the hernia, where your consultant might press gently on your tummy or groin area. They will ask about your symptoms, including how long you have been experiencing them and how they affect you, as well as what you are hoping to achieve through treatment.  

If you do need scans or tests, we should be able to do these onsite, but you may have to come back another day.  

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you have during this appointment. No question is too small or too silly. It’s really important to us that you feel informed and in control the whole way through your treatment journey with us.  

Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, your consultant will build a bespoke treatment plan tailored to your individual needs and circumstances. If you are paying for your own treatment, this will be in the form of a fixed-price package, which will include any necessary aftercare.  

As soon as you’re happy with the plan and any costs, we can get you booked in for surgery (should you need it) at a time that suits you.

There is not much you need to do to prepare for laparoscopic hernia repair surgery.  

You might be asked to avoid food and drink for up to 12 hours before the operation. If you're taking blood-thinning medication, you might be asked to stop taking it for a few days before having the procedure. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the operation. You might also be advised to stop smoking (if applicable) during the lead-up to having surgery. 

Your healthcare team will ensure you know exactly how to prepare for keyhole hernia surgery, so there won't be any surprises along the way. If you do need to stop smoking for a short period before surgery, they will offer advice and support on how best to do this. 

If you are having laparoscopic (keyhole) inguinal hernia repair surgery, this is typically performed under general anaesthetic, which means you’ll be asleep for the whole operation.  

During surgery, an incision will be made near your belly button and two small further incisions will be created on your lower abdomen (tummy). 

Your Consultant will use carbon dioxide gas to inflate your abdomen and a small telescope (called a laparoscope) will be inserted through one of these incisions to examine your hernia. 

There are two laparoscopic methods that are used to repair inguinal hernias, which are most commonly known as TAPP surgery and TEP surgery.  

TAPP (transabdominal preperitoneal) laparoscopic surgery

In TAPP keyhole surgery, specialised instruments are passed through the other two incisions and into the muscle wall of your abdomen and peritoneum (the lining that covers your abdominal organs). A section of your peritoneum is then placed over your hernia and a piece of mesh is attached to the weakened part of your abdominal wall. This strengthens the muscle and should prevent the hernia from happening again.    

TEP (totally extraperitoneal) laparoscopic surgery

During TEP keyhole surgery, your abdominal cavity (the space around the organs in your tummy) is not entered. Instead, surgery is performed in the space between your abdominal muscles and the lining of your abdomen.  

It can take between 30 and 60 minutes to perform laparoscopic surgery for inguinal hernias. 

How long will I need to stay in hospital?

Most people are able to go home from hospital on the same day they have inguinal hernia surgery.  

You won’t be able to drive yourself home, because of the effects of the anaesthesia. So you should arrange for a friend or family member to collect you from hospital. If you would prefer, we can arrange for a taxi to take you home.  

Recovering at home

You will probably experience some pain after surgery while you heal, but this can be managed with traditional painkillers and usually goes away within two weeks. You might also feel rather tired for a while.  

It’s normal to have some bruising in your groin area where the hernia was.  

It’s common to be constipated after hernia surgery, so you should make sure to drink lots of fluids and eat a diet rich in fibre. 

Your consultant will tell you what to expect from your recovery, including when you can go back to your normal activities. Many people can return to work after just a few days, but everyone is different.  

Your consultant will provide your tailored advice on how to recover 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. 

2-6 weeks after surgery

After two weeks you should feel well enough to get back to all your usual activities including light exercise such as swimming and walking.  

You might need to avoid more strenuous activities and contact sports until six weeks after surgery, but your consultant will give you a more detailed timeframe based on your individual circumstances. 

Usually, the full recovery time from hernia surgery is about six weeks, though it can be sooner after keyhole surgery.  

Find out more about recovering from hernia surgery. 

As with any surgery, there are possible risks with having hernia repair surgery, including a wound infection. However, if you do suffer an infection, this can be treated with antibiotics.  

There is a low risk of developing a blood clot after hernia repair surgery. But your consultant might give you blood thinners to further minimise this risk. You could also experience severe bruising (haematoma) but this should resolve with time. 

Other potential side effects of hernia surgery include: 

  • Pain 
  • Bleeding 
  • Unsightly scars 
  • Blood clots 
  • Difficulty passing urine or emptying your bladder 

What is an inguinal hernia?

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. 

How long does swelling last after inguinal hernia surgery?

It can take up to six months for swelling to go down completely after inguinal hernia surgery. The time it takes for swelling to go down depends on the size and location of your hernia, as well as how well you look after yourself and follow the advice of your consultant during your recovery period. 

Can an inguinal hernia cause leg pain?

Yes, inguinal hernia pain can radiate to your legs, back, hips, and general pelvic area. 

How common are inguinal hernias?

Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. According to, around 70% of all hernias are inguinal hernias.  

How long does inguinal hernia repair surgery take?

The procedure usually takes between 30 and 45 minutes. 

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 help you 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.

Content reviewed by Circle in-house team in June 2022. Next review due June 2025.

  1. How it's performed - Inguinal hernia repair, NHS
  2. Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair, NIH
  3. Laparoscopic Inguinal Hernia Repair (Keyhole Surgery), The British Hernia Centre
  4. Laparoscopic Surgery for Inguinal Hernia Repair, Royal United Hospital Bath
  5. Laparoscopic Hernia Repair, NHS Milton Keynes University Hospital

Why Ken went private for Hernia Repair Surgery

Ken chose to have hernia repair surgery so he could get back to doing what he loves most.

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