What to Expect From Your Hernia Surgery

Preparing  |  Day of Surgery  |  After Surgery

At the Columbia Hernia Center, we truly believe that patients are partners in the surgical process and that the most successful hernia repairs happen when patients are engaged fully in their care. To that end, we’ve put together some information to help you know exactly what to expect before, during, and after your surgery.

Preparing for Surgery

Prospective patients are first seen at the Columbia Hernia Center for a consultation to assess their hernia and evaluate surgical options. This visit includes:

  • A comprehensive medical history
  • A comprehensive physical examination
  • A detailed discussion with your surgeon about options and recommendations.

If you have had prior abdominal or hernia surgery, you are asked to bring your operative reports and copies of any abdominal CT scans that were performed prior to your consultation.

Preop Testing

If you and your surgeon agree on pursuing a surgical hernia repair, a date is chosen, and pre-operative testing is ordered. Pre-op testing includes:

  • Bloodwork
  • EKG to check heart health
  • Chest x-ray when appropriate

Testing is usually accomplished in about one hour at the Hernia Center, but it may also be done near your residence if that is more convenient. Instructions are given regarding management of standing medications, diet, and bowel preparation, when necessary.

Day of Surgery


Surgery is performed at one of the Columbia Hernia Center sites, either in Manhattan or in New Jersey.

Patients are asked to report to the facility 90 minutes prior to the anticipated time of their procedure to check in and be seen by their anesthesiologist.

The anesthesiologist will examine you and review your medical history, focusing on prior surgery and any anesthetic concerns that you may have. Some operations, such as open inguinal and umbilical hernia repairs, are performed under local anesthesia with additional relaxing and pain-relieving medication provided by the anesthesiologist to assure complete comfort.


Ambulatory surgery patients who do not need general anesthesia are usually discharged from the recovery room within one hour of completion of their surgery. If general anesthesia is required, then it will take several more hours to fully wake up from surgery.

Prescriptions for pain medication are given if required and a follow-up appointment with the surgeon is scheduled. You will need to arrange transport home from the hospital to ensure a safe transition.

After Surgery

Patients are advised that they should expect to experience some pain after hernia surgery, although it frequently proves to be less than they anticipate. Avoidance of certain movements, particularly contraction of the abdominal muscles when sitting up, helps to minimize pain.

Strategies for reducing pain are discussed and medications are prescribed. Patients are encouraged to resume all normal activities as soon as they feel confident that they can do so without causing unreasonable pain.

Normal diets can be resumed after 1-2 days. Most patients are able to return to work in 1 week or less, and to return to exercise regimens after 4 weeks.

Patients may travel safely at any time after surgery provided, they have checked-in with their surgeon and confirmed the stability of their health. Suture removal is not required as wound closures are performed with absorbable sutures.

Dedication to Opioid Reduction

In multiple randomized studies it has been shown that a pain control strategy which reduces the number of opioids or narcotic pain medicine consumed has led to less postoperative nausea and vomiting, less drowsiness, and overall a better and easier recovery. This is done through non-narcotic pain medicine regimens which include tylenol, ibuprofen, and nerve blocks. Nerve Blocks are done by either the surgeon or anesthesiologist and can provide up to 1-3 days of pain control by targeting the nerves which are involved in the surgical incisions.

Next Steps

If you would like to set up a consultation, please call us at (212) 305-5947 or use our online appointment request form. We look forward to answering your questions and meeting your hernia care needs.