Open inguinal hernia repair (female)
This page will give you information about an open inguinal hernia repair (for women). If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
What is an inguinal hernia?
Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers.
Weak spots can develop in the layer of muscle, resulting in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal wall. This produces a lump called a hernia.
An inguinal hernia happens at the inguinal canal. This is a narrow passage in which nerves and a ligament pass through your abdominal wall.
What are the benefits of surgery?
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 an open inguinal hernia repair?
Inguinal hernias can be repaired using keyhole surgery and this may be appropriate for you.
You can sometimes control the hernia with a truss (padded support belt) or simply leave it alone. It will not get better without surgery.
What will happen if I decide not to have the operation or the operation is delayed?
Occasionally, the hernia can get larger with time. It can also be dangerous because your intestines or other structures within your abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia). The symptoms that may suggest a strangulated hernia are:
- severe pain
- a hernia that will not disappear when you lie down
If you have any of these symptoms you must call your healthcare team immediately as you may need an urgent operation.
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 under your skin.
How can I prepare myself for the operation?
If you smoke, stopping smoking now may reduce your risk of developing complications and will improve your long-term health.
Try to maintain a healthy weight. You have a higher risk of developing complications if you are overweight. Regular exercise should help to prepare you for the operation, help you to recover and improve your long-term health. Do not do exercises that involve heavy lifting or make your hernia painful. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
If you have not had the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, you may be at an increased risk of serious illness related to COVID-19 while you recover. Speak to your doctor or healthcare team if you would like to have the vaccine.
What complications can happen?
Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.
General complications of any operation
- allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
- blood clot in your leg
- blood clot in your lung
- infection of the surgical site (wound)
- chest infection
Specific complications of this operation
- developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) under your wound
- injury to structures that come from your abdomen and are within the hernia
- temporary weakness of your leg
- continued discomfort or pain in your groin
Consequences of this procedure
- unsightly scarring of your skin
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day.
Increase how much you walk around over the first few days.
Your surgeon will talk to you about your level of activity and return to work. This will depend on how much surgery you need and your type of 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.
Most women make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.
The hernia can come back many years later and you may need another operation.
An inguinal hernia is a common condition caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall, near the inguinal canal. If left untreated, an inguinal hernia can cause serious complications.IMPORTANT INFORMATION
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Last reviewed: September 2022