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Open incisional hernia repair

3-minute read

This page will give you information about an open incisional hernia repair. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

You can also download and print a PDF version of this factsheet, with space for your own questions or notes.

What is an incisional hernia?

Any operation on your abdomen needs a cut that is closed with stitches. Sometimes your wound does not heal properly, resulting in the contents of your abdomen pushing through. This produces a lump called a hernia.

A hernia can be dangerous because your intestines or other structures within your abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia).

What are the benefits of surgery?

Illustration showing an open incisional hernia repair.
An open incisional hernia repair.

You should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent serious complications.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

You can sometimes control the hernia with supportive clothing or simply leave it alone. It will not get better without surgery.

What does the operation involve?

Various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes about 90 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut through your old scar. They will repair the weak tissue either with stitches only or using a synthetic mesh, which they will stitch to the muscles.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • pain
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • bleeding
  • unsightly scarring
  • blood clots

Specific complications

  • developing a collection of blood or fluid
  • difficulty passing urine
  • skin necrosis
  • injury to structures that come from your abdomen and are within the hernia
  • injury to nerves
  • removing your umbilicus (belly button)

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after 1 to 4 days.

Increase how much you walk around over the first few days.

Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

The hernia can come back.

Summary

An incisional hernia is a weakness in your abdominal wall which happens when previous wounds do not heal properly. If left untreated, an incisional hernia can cause serious complications.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION
The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Last reviewed: September 2018

Need more information?

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Hernia information | myVMC

Hernias occur when an organ or structure passes through an abnormal opening and ends up in the wrong place. Abdominal hernias are the most common type.

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Hernias - Better Health Channel

Both reducible and non-reducible hernias need to be surgically repaired - this is a common operation.

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