How long will I be off work after hernia surgery?

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Your doctor recommended that you have surgery to repair a hernia. But before you can schedule the hernia surgery, you need to know the answer to a key question: “How much time do I need off work?”

You might be surprised by the answer. While individual recovery time after hernia surgery will vary based on a number of factors, you could be back to work more quickly than you may think.

For robotic inguinal hernia patients, our goal is for you to be off work for one week and on light duty for one more week before returning to work at full capacity just two weeks after your surgery.

Before deciding when to move forward with hernia surgery, talk with your surgeon about your specific needs and what your recovery might look like. Each individual case is different, but there are a few general things to know about recovering after surgery.

Several factors will impact overall recovery time

Hernia surgery isn’t one-size-fits-all. How quickly you are able to resume normal activities after surgery will depend on a few different things, including:

  • The type of hernia you have.
    There are multiple kinds of hernias. While all hernias occur when an organ pushes through muscle or tissue, the different types of hernias occur in different parts of the body. Surgical repair is slightly different for each type. Of the different types, inguinal hernia is by far the most common, accounting for 75% of all hernias.
  • Your age and overall health.
    While every person is different, those who are younger and healthier tend to recover more quickly following any type of surgical procedure, including hernia surgery. Being older or having other health conditions can impact recovery time.
  • The type of surgery performed.
    Recovery time will vary depending on the type of surgery you have. During a laparoscopic procedure or a robotic procedure, the hernia is accessed through several small incisions. Smaller incisions generally lead to a quicker recovery, along with reduced blood loss, less pain and a smaller risk of complications.

Recovery after surgery has multiple stages

Once your hernia surgery is complete, recovery begins. Consider it a multi-step process.

  1. Step one is leaving the hospital.
    In most cases, particularly if you have laparoscopic or robotic hernia surgery, you will be discharged from the hospital on the same day as your surgery.

    If the repair was more intensive than expected, you may require an overnight stay before being discharged.
  2. Step two involves recovery at home.
    During the first 24 to 48 hours after your surgical procedure, you’ll want to be especially careful, keeping an eye on your incisions and your overall health. Carefully follow the instructions from your surgeon and care team.

    This will include guidance about many aspects of your recovery, such as when you can shower, how to cough and sneeze without causing pain or complications, and how to care for the wound.

    You may experience some pain and discomfort during this time. That’s entirely normal. In most cases, this discomfort goes away as the incision heals. Your surgeon may recommend pain medication during this time.

    As you recover at home in the first few days following surgery, it’s good for you to get up and move around. You’ll likely feel good enough to resume most easy activities, like walking, within a day or so.

    Remember that even as you resume activities, you aren’t fully recovered. Full healing after hernia surgery may take up to six weeks, so you may not feel quite like yourself during this time.
  3. Step three of recovery can include your return to work.
    As you’re feeling up to it, within a few days to a couple weeks, you can gradually reintroduce other activities, including most jobs.

    If your work includes manual labor or requires you to lift objects, you may need to take a little longer to recover. Your surgeon can provide specific guidance on when it’s OK for you to resume your workout routine—and your work, if applicable.

The bottom line of recovering after hernia surgery is that every person’s experience is different. It’s likely that you will be able to return to work within a couple weeks following your surgery, but carefully listen to your body and the advice of your care team.

Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a hernia, the team of specialists at the Hernia Center of Northeast Georgia Medical Center can help. As Georgia’s first accredited Hernia Surgery Center of Excellence, NGMC offers you access to hernia specialists who offer the most advanced robotic and minimally invasive surgical techniques for hernia repair.

Call 770-219-4040 to speak to our care team about questions or to schedule an appointment.