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Hernia Post-operative Care

Following your procedure there are a number of things of which you need to be aware.

Discomfort

It is inevitable that you will experience some discomfort. In particular this will be in the region of the hernia itself where the mesh or the sutures have been placed. Long acting local anaesthetic will have been injected into the wound but after a few hours this effect will wear off. Before it does so it is important to have some pain killers on board and to continue these on a regular basis. You will be sent home with some pain killers - my preference is either Panadeine Forte or Nurofen. I recommend that you take these initially on a regular basis as directed on the packet. After about 48hrs it should be necessary to take these only as required.

Swelling

You may experience some minor swelling in the region of the wound. You may also experience some swelling deeper to this which usually represents a collection of fluid where the hernia used to be. This is unusual but if it does occur most of the fluid gets absorbed back into the body within a couple of weeks. You may also experience some bruising around the wound which will once again disappear over a few days.

Wound Care

There is a single wound in the groin (with an open repair) or three small wounds (with a laparoscopic repair) which will be dressed. An umbilical hernia repair will have a small wound just below the umbilicus. Leave these in place until they fall off. If they haven't fallen off within a week they can be safely removed at this point. It is perfectly safe to allow the dressing to get wet whilst in the shower - simply dab dry with a towel - this also applies to the exposed wound once the dressing have been removed. There will be a dissolving stitch beneath the skin that does not need to be removed.

Wound Infection

This is an unusual occurrence but if it does happen it's usually on day 4 or 5. If the wound becomes red, painful and swollen please contact Dr Renaut's office or if he is not available your local GP. A short course of antibiotics may be necessary.

Physical activity (including sexual activity)

It is very important to maintain a degree of physical activity following your operation. Please feel free to move around the house and go for short walks starting in the immediate post-operative period. The degree of physical activity that is permissible is largely common sense. Too much will simply increase your discomfort level. As a general rule you should slow down if the wounds or the operation site becomes uncomfortable and build up gradually each day. Certainly within a week to 10 days you should be able to pursue normal day to day activities, with the exception of lifting heavy objects - this should be avoided for a period of 4 weeks following the surgery. Resuming sexual activity is once again a matter of common sense - it should be introduced on a gradual basis.

Medication

You should resume your normal regime of medication as soon as you are able to eat and drink after the surgery, unless specifically directed otherwise by Dr Renaut or your anaesthetist. As previously mentioned you will be discharged with some pain killers which should initially be taken regularly and then as required. Antibiotics are not normally prescribed by Dr Renaut as the chances of infection associated with this procedure are minimal.

Areas of numbness and chronic pain

Very occasionally you may experience a small patch of numbness, tingling or a sensation akin to small electric shocks, either in the groin, down the front of the leg or in the scrotum for a short period after the surgery. This relates to bruising of some of the nerves that run through the groin. In the unlikely event of it occurring, sensation normally returns within a few days or a couple of weeks at the most.

A small number of patients can experience discomfort in the groin that can (rarely) extend to debilitating pain which can be chronic, and sometimes indefinite. The cause is often a challenge to identify but probably relates once again to an injury to one or more of the nerves that traverse the inguinal region. Because the cause is largely unknown, attempts at relieving the pain with traditional painkillers can be frustratingly unsuccessful.

Follow up

Dr Renaut does not routinely see his patients for a follow-up appointment. In most cases it is not necessary. If however you have concerns about your recovery then he is very happy to discuss these on the phone and he will arrange to see you if he thinks this is necessary. He routinely notifies your GP of all procedures and your progress.