Hernia surgery

We offer the latest surgical techniques to repair an inguinal hernia – a swelling or lump in your groin caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall muscles.

Sometimes also called

  • Herniotomy
  • Hernioplasty
  • Herniorrhaphy

At a glance

  • Typical hospital stay
    Same-day discharge or 1 night

  • Procedure duration
    Under an hour

  • Type of anaesthetic
    General, spinal or local

  • Available to self-pay?
    Yes

  • Covered by health insurance?
    Yes

Why Spire?

  • Fast access to a wide range of treatments
  • Consultants who are experts in their field
  • Clear, inclusive pricing
  • 98% of our patients are likely to recommend us to their family and friends

What is hernia surgery?

An inguinal hernia repair is an operation your doctor may suggest if you have a swelling or lump in your groin due to a hernia that’s causing pain or other problems.

An inguinal hernia happens when part of your intestines or the fatty tissue around them pokes through a weak spot in your abdominal wall muscles. It’s often worse when you cough or stand and may disappear completely when you lie down.

An inguinal hernia operation involves pushing the protruding tissue back into place and repairing the weakness in your abdominal wall, usually with mesh.

Your consultant may recommend surgery if your hernia is:

  • Painful
  • Interfering with daily activities such as bending or lifting
  • Growing
  • Making complications more likely – if the protruding tissue becomes trapped in your abdominal wall, the blood supply may be cut off, which is potentially life-threatening (a strangulated hernia)

Your consultant can usually diagnose a hernia by examining the lump and asking you to stand, cough and lie down.

Sometimes they may send you for these tests to confirm the diagnosis:

Find your nearest Spire hospital

Almost all of our hospitals offer inguinal hernia repair. We have dedicated general surgeons who specialise in this procedure and use many of the latest techniques and innovations.

Spire Nottingham Hospital

How hernia repair surgery works

You can either have traditional open surgery or laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

With open surgery, your surgeon will:

  • Make one incision (cut) over your hernia
  • Push the protruding tissue back into your abdomen
  • Staple or glue mesh on to the weak part of your abdominal wall
  • Close your wound with stitches

With keyhole surgery, your surgeon will:

  • Make small incisions (cuts) in your abdomen - usually three incisions
  • Insert gas into your abdomen so they can see your organs more clearly
  • Insert the laparoscope, a thin tube with a light and tiny camera, which sends images from inside your abdomen to a video screen
  • Insert tiny surgical instruments through your other incisions to move the protruding tissue back inside your abdomen
  • Repair the weak part of your abdominal wall with mesh, using either the transabdominal preperitoneal (TAPP) technique or the newer totally extra peritoneal (TEP) technique
  • Release the gas from your abdomen
  • Close your incisions with stitches

TAPP and TEP: what’s the difference?

TAPP – your surgeon will insert the instruments through your abdomen lining to place the mesh.

TEP – your surgeon will repair your hernia from outside your abdomen lining.

Your surgeon will explain the pros and cons of each method and which is best for you. This will depend on:

  • Your overall health
  • The type of hernia you have
  • Whether you’ve had a hernia before
  • Your surgeon’s expertise

Your operation: what to expect

How long does an inguinal hernia repair take?

Usually under one hour

Anaesthetic choices

Your consultant will advise on what’s best, based on your health, the surgical method and where your hernia is. It will either be:

  • A general anaesthetic, when you’re asleep
  • A spinal or epidural anaesthetic, when you’re awake but can’t feel anything below your waist
  • A local anaesthetic, when you’re awake but you can’t feel anything in your abdomen

You’ll usually need a general anaesthetic for laparoscopic hernia repair.

If you have the spinal or local options, you may be offered a sedative.

Pain after an inguinal hernia repair

There tends to be less pain with keyhole surgery than with open surgery but you’re still likely to feel some soreness and discomfort once your anaesthetic wears off. Everyone experiences pain differently, but don’t worry, you’ll be given painkillers to help you manage this afterwards.

Your hospital stay

You’ll usually go home on the same day or the following day.

Q & A

Colin Elton, Consultant General Surgeon

Talking about hernia surgery

Your recovery: what to expect

Recovery time

You should be back to most normal activities within six weeks. If you have keyhole surgery, you’re likely to recover quicker and experience less pain than with open surgery.

After hernia treatment, it’s normal to experience:

  • Soreness
  • Discomfort
  • Bruising and/or swelling around your groin (and scrotum in men)

Your lifestyle after treatment

You won’t be able to drive right away, so you’ll need to arrange for someone to take you home. You’ll also need someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours and may want to arrange help with tasks such as shopping and cleaning.

It will probably be a couple of weeks before you can get back to light activities, work or driving. If your work is physically strenuous, you may need to wait around four to six weeks – your consultant will advise you.

It’s also important to check with your motor insurance company before driving again.

Risks and complications

Most people have an inguinal hernia repair without complications, but all surgery carries some risks. Inguinal hernia repair complications can include:

  • Return of the hernia
  • Painful scar, which lessens over time
  • Build-up of blood or fluid in the space left by the hernia, which usually improves on its own
  • Bleeding or blood clots in your veins
  • Infection
  • Accidental injury to internal organs or nerve damage leading to pain and numbness in the groin
  • Damage to the blood supply to a testicle or injury to the tube that carries sperm to the testicles

Hernia mesh

A recent media report highlighted how a minority of hernia mesh operations are associated with complications. However, it's important to note that this included all complications, from minor and correctable issues to more serious problems. A recent study comparing hernia repairs with mesh and hernia repairs without mesh found there was no difference in chronic pain afterwards.

It's also important to consider that complications can occur without treatment. Your consultant will help you make an informed opinion about whether surgery is right for you. They'll explain all the potential benefits, risks and complications with you and answer any questions or concerns you may have.

At Spire hospitals, your safety is our top priority. We have high standards of quality control, equipment and cleanliness and an ongoing system of review and training for our medical teams.

Treatment and recovery timeline

Your consultant will be able to advise you on your expected recovery time, but as a guide, here’s a typical recovery timeline for hernia surgey:

View interactive timeline View full timeline

0-1 days

Leave hospital

1-2 weeks

Light activities such as shopping; can return to desk-based work

4-6 weeks

Back to normal activities

  • 0-1 days


    Leave hospital

  • 1-2 weeks


    Light activities such as shopping; can return to desk-based work

  • 4-6 weeks


    Back to normal activities

The treatment described on this page may be adapted to meet your individual needs, so it's important to follow your healthcare professional's advice and raise any questions that you may have with them.

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