Dr.Chirag Thakkar

Activity and Exercise After Hernia Surgery

A hernia is a common problem affecting the young population. Hence, many of the patients going for hernia surgery have apprehensions about the activity level post-surgery. How long it will take after surgery to go back to normal life. Whether they can exercise after surgery or not? What other activity restrictions will be there after a hernia surgery

How long do I need to rest after Hernia surgery?

This depends on the type of hernia, type of surgery, and any other problems that affect your mobility. It also depends on what is your definition of rest.

Few hours after Laparoscopic Inguinal hernia surgery
Walking a few hours after a laparoscopic Inguinal hernia surgery

Generally, for most patients, moving around and getting out of bed can be done within a few hours of surgery. Especially with laparoscopic surgery for Inguinal, umbilical, and not very complex incisional hernias. You can gradually increase your mobility. And can get back to a normal household and office work as soon as you are comfortable, usually within a week. There is absolutely no need for bed rest after hernia surgery. In fact, your recovery will be better and faster if you start moving around sooner after surgery.

There is no restriction for walking, climbing stairs even on the day of surgery. You can walk as much as you want as long as you are comfortable. If you are not comfortable there is no need to push yourself. But walking or climbing stairs is not going to cause any trouble at the site of surgery, even if it is hurting a bit.

Activity after hernia surgery?

Routine daily activities that are not strenuous can be started within a few days after surgery. For females, routine household activities that do not involve lifting weight can be resumed in a few days. Similarly, routine office or desk jobs can be resumed in a few days. Lifting weight more 4-5 kgs, activities that involve repeated bending or sitting on the floor should be avoided for initial 2-3 months. This is more so for patients who had surgery for an incisional hernia, a large umbilical hernia, or a very large inguinal hernia, whether it is open or laparoscopic. Patients who had surgery for an Inguinal hernia or a small umbilical hernia can take more liberty. Generally, for most patients of hernia surgery, their routine daily activity can be resumed in a few days. It is still a good practice to discuss the level of activity permitted to you with your surgeon.

To listen to our patients about their post-surgery activity level click below

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When can we be back to work?

Most jobs can be safely resumed within a week to 10 days’ time. Those who have complete desk or office work, less travel to go to work can even resume work in a couple of days after surgery. Those having moderately strenuous activity at work, like prolonged standing or operating machines, or who need significant travel for work, can resume work after a week of surgery. Those having more strenuous jobs like working in farms or carpentry or need to lift the weight as part of their job would need to delay these activities for a longer period of time. They may choose to resume work early by starting less strenuous work for an initial couple of months. And then resume their routine work. Again patients who have undergone laparoscopic surgery for an Inguinal hernia or a small umbilical hernia can take more liberty in resuming more strenuous activity early. On the other hand, those who have surgery for an incisional hernia, recurrent hernia, or very large hernia should be more cautious in resuming strenuous activities.

When can I drive a car or a bike? Can I travel by auto?

Driving a car is not much of a problem and can be done within a few days of surgery as long as you are comfortable. Though, you should make sure you are driving safely, avoiding even minor accidents and jerks. Having said that, it is very necessary to understand that you should drive only if you are absolutely comfortable, and should not lead to an accident due to your pain or discomfort. Again those having very complex hernia surgery should exercise more caution. Also, a very long drive should be avoided as much as possible.

Regarding driving a bike, more caution is needed. Those who have undergone a laparoscopic Inguinal hernia surgery can drive a two-wheeler in a couple of weeks’ time if totally pain-free. Again, utmost caution regarding accidents and jerks is needed. All other types of hernia surgery patients should avoid driving a motorcycle for about a month. Although, traveling as a co-passenger with someone driving a motorbike can be done with due care. Traveling in an auto can be done with care to avoid accidents and jerks. Train or bus travels or a car journey can be safely done within a few days. The same applies to a short flight journey.

When can we start the exercise?

For patients who had undergone laparoscopic surgery for Inguinal hernia and Umbilical hernia

Walking, light jogging, cycling, and swimming can be resumed as soon as you are comfortable. Many of our patients have resumed it within a couple of days. After Inguinal hernia surgery, moderately strenuous exercises like yoga stretches, Surya namaskar, and playing sports can be resumed in a month’s time. The same activities should be delayed for about 2-3 months after umbilical hernia surgery. This is because we would like to avoid strain on the abdominal core muscles during the healing period.

Listen to this patient of our regarding his sports activity after Inguinal hernia surgery

For patients who had undergone surgery for an Incisional hernia or a recurrent hernia

Walking can be done as much as you want within days of surgery. Jogging, cycling, and swimming should be delayed for a few weeks. The size of your hernia, what type of surgery is performed, your weight, and your comfort, all should be taken into consideration. There is no common advice regarding exercise in this group of patients. And hence you should discuss with your surgeon after surgery during the follow-up. This group of patients is more likely to have a recurrence and hence it is advisable to exercise caution.

Can we ever do weight lifting and strenuous gym exercises after hernia surgery?

Yes, most of the hernia patients can do rigorous exercise and weight lifting a few months after surgery. After a laparoscopic Inguinal hernia repair, gym exercise and weight lifting can be started about 2-3 months after surgery. For incisional hernia and large umbilical hernias, it would be wise to wait for about 5-6 months. Generally, those who have these complex incisional herniae are less likely to be doing these exercises before surgery. And hence less likely to be concerned about heavy weight lifting. But again for this level of activity, it is always better to discuss it with your surgeon.

When can we resume sexual activity after hernia surgery?

Sexual activity can be resumed once you are comfortable doing it. This can be as early as a few days after laparoscopic Inguinal hernia surgery. The same is true for laparoscopic surgery for a small umbilical hernia. Many of our young male patients have reported pain-free sexual activity a few days after laparoscopic inguinal and umbilical hernia surgery. For larger hernias, incisional hernia, and recurrent hernia this can be delayed to a few weeks. Generally, if you are reasonably comfortable doing it, then it should not be a problem. You can certainly make some modifications in the act such that the strain on your tummy muscles is reduced. This shall help you return to your sexual activity early.

For patients with a very large and complex hernia

For a small subset of hernia patients, who have a very large and complex hernia, things may be different. In such cases, surgery may be prolonged for many hours and the surgery is also very complex. Such patients may have a bit more pain after surgery and may take a longer time to feel fully awake after surgery. Also, a very large hernia may cause breathing difficulty after surgery. This may happen due to multiple reasons.

After a complex hernia surgery
Walking 10 hours after a very complex Incisional hernia surgery

Firstly, in such cases, a large amount of intestines and fat reside in the hernia sac, outside of the tummy. When they are pushed inside of the tummy and the tummy wall is repaired with mesh and stitches, it causes an increase in the pressure inside of the tummy. This then pushes the diaphragm muscle towards the chest and hence needs more effort by the patient to fill their lungs with air.

Secondly, the pain of surgery also affects the chest wall muscle movement and hence causes shallow breathing. This can be effectively negated with good pain control.

Thirdly, the general condition of the patient also may affect mobilization after surgery and contribute to breathing problems. Obesity, previous lung or heart disease, and habit of smoking can also add to the breathing problems after hernia surgery. Old age and knee or back problems may also affect mobilization after surgery.

But good planning and optimization before surgery should make the recovery smoother. In such cases, we would evaluate the patients thoroughly for heart and breathing problems. We would also advise the patient to quit smoking and start breathing exercises by spirometry. Finally, a skillful surgery and good pain control after surgery will help you get out of bed early.

Our Aim and Patients expectation

For all our hernia patients, we aim to get them back to their normal routine and activity as soon as possible. And that too in as pain-free manner as possible. And as we know, that is exactly what patients expect. This expectation is very easily achievable for Inguinal and Umbilical hernia by laparoscopic surgery. Many of our patients have been discharged on the same day and were back to work in a few days after laparoscopic surgery. Most of these patients do not report any restriction or pain in their normal activities. Those who want to play a sport or do gym exercises have been able to do that without any problem. We also continue our efforts in improving ourselves with the aim of providing the best outcomes for Laparoscopic hernia surgery.

ADROIT Centre for Digestive and Obesity surgery is based in Ahmedabad. We focus on surgery for hernias. All types of hernia including complex and recurrent hernia are also managed here by a laparoscopic surgery. We are proud of the excellent outcome in our patients after laparoscopic Inguinal and umbilical hernia surgery. There are many reasons why our patients rate us as the best center for laparoscopic hernia surgery in Ahmedabad.

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