Umbilical hernia repairRecovery

It's usually possible to go home the same day as having an umbilical hernia repair.

It's usually possible to go home the same day as having an umbilical hernia repair.

It's normal to feel sore and uncomfortable immediately after surgery. Local anaesthetic, which numbs the area, will be injected before the end of the operation to reduce the pain. Painkillers will also be provided.

Your child may be sleepy or cry a lot and demand extra attention after the operation. This is normal and will pass.

Most adults and children can go home a few hours after surgery when they've had something to eat and drink.

An overnight stay in hospital is usually only recommended for people with other medical problems, or people who are vomiting regularly and are unable to keep food and drink down.

Follow-up appointment

Before being discharged from hospital, you'll be told whether you or your child needs to have a follow-up appointment.

If an appointment is needed, you'll receive a letter in the post confirming the details of the date and time.

At home

You may have bruising and tenderness around the wound during your recovery at home. This is normal and usually settles within about a week. However, the swelling may not go down for several weeks.

Hospital staff will advise you about taking painkillers to relieve any discomfort. You can give your child painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Children under 16 must not be given aspirin.

Wearing loose clothing may help reduce any discomfort your child has, but they should be able to wear trousers or a skirt as normal.

Make sure you follow the instructions you were given before leaving hospital about hygiene, caring for the wound and bathing.

Straining on the toilet because of constipation can cause pain around the wound. Drinking lots of fluids and eating plenty of vegetables, fruit and high-fibre foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and pasta can help reduce the chances of this occurring.

Activities

Your surgical team will be able to give you a good idea about how long it takes to recover from surgery.

If the operation was carried out under a general anaesthetic, your co-ordination and reasoning may be affected for a short time. Adults should therefore avoid drinking alcohol, operating machinery or signing legal documents for at least 48 hours after the procedure.

Normal activities can gradually be resumed over time until they can be carried out without feeling any pain. Most people are able to do light activities after 1 or 2 weeks.

Gentle exercise, such as walking, can help the healing process. Heavy lifting and strenuous activities should be avoided for about 4 to 6 weeks.

Work and school

It's best to keep your child off school for about a week to give them time to recover from the anaesthetic and the operation. They should be excused from sports and games for at least 2 weeks when they return to school. Contact sports should be avoided for 6 to 8 weeks.

Adults who have surgery should be able to return to work after a week or two, although you may need more time off if your job involves manual labour.

Driving

It's usually advisable to avoid driving until you can do an emergency stop without feeling any pain or discomfort – you can practise this without starting your car.

It will usually be at least 1 or 2 weeks after surgery before you reach this point.

Contacting your car insurance company before you start to drive again is normally recommended.

When to get medical advice

Call your surgeon or GP if any of the following symptoms develop after surgery for an umbilical hernia:

  • persistent fever over 38C
  • bleeding
  • increased swelling or pain in the abdomen
  • pain that isn't relieved by painkillers
  • persistent nausea or vomiting
  • chills
  • persistent coughing or shortness of breath
  • increasing redness around your incisions
  • difficulty passing urine

Page last reviewed: 06/08/2018
Next review due: 06/08/2021