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Abdominal Hernia Repair: Before Your Surgery

What is abdominal hernia repair surgery?

An abdominal hernia repair is a type of surgery. It fixes a problem called a hernia. A hernia is a bulge under the skin in your belly. It happens when you have a weak spot in your belly muscles and a piece of your intestines or tissues pokes through your muscles. This can cause pain. You may notice the pain most when you lift something heavy.

You can have a hernia near your belly button. Or it may be in a scar from an earlier surgery. To fix it, the doctor will do one of two kinds of surgery. In open surgery, the doctor makes one cut near the hernia. This cut is called an incision. In laparoscopic surgery, the doctor makes several very small incisions and uses a thin, lighted scope and small tools. In either type of surgery, the doctor pushes the bulge back in place, if needed. Then the doctor sews the healthy tissue back together. Often the doctor patches the weak spot with a piece of material.

Laparoscopic surgery leaves several small scars. Open surgery leaves one long scar. The scars fade with time.

You will probably need to take 1 to 2 weeks off from work. But if your job requires heavy lifting or other physical work, you may need to take 4 to 6 weeks off.

How do you prepare for the surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take 30 minutes to 2 hours. It depends on how large the hernia is and where it is.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

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