If the hernia is small, or if it's not causing any problems, then you and your doctor may decide to wait and see what happens.
For people with inguinal (groin) hernias who have no or minimal symptoms, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons suggests that surgery is usually recommended, as there is a significant risk of them developing significant symptoms or complications. For patients who are elderly or who have other medical problems the risk of surgery may be greater, so a watch and wait approach may be employed. For more information, speak to your doctor or visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
There are two types of surgery.
With open surgery, the surgeon makes a cut near the hernia to repair it with stitches, and may lay down a piece of mesh to help strengthen the area.
With laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon makes several small incisions in the abdomena. Long tools and a small camera (laparoscope) are inserted into the incisions and the images help guide the surgeon to repair the abdominal wall with stitches or a mesh implant placed from the inside.
But if it’s very large, or if it’s trapped and can’t be pushed back, and you are in serious pain, you may need emergency surgery.
Most people need one to two weeks off work after surgery. It will be many weeks after surgery before normal activity such as lifting, bending and some sports can recommence.
Last reviewed: April 2017