Hernia Surgery: How To Prepare

Hernia surgery corrects hernia, a common abdominal muscular defect

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Hernia surgery, which is also called hernia repair or herniorrhaphy, is the repair of an abdominal or pelvic muscle defect. The defect causes organs to push through muscles, and it can lead to a visible bulge, usually around the lower abdomen or groin. It can cause pain and discomfort in some cases, and it may lead to serious complications if it's not repaired. There are three primary approaches to this treatment—open, laparoscopic, and robotic hernia surgery.

As with any surgery, proper preparation for the procedure is essential to its success. This process includes testing, potentially making some changes to medications that you regularly take, and fasting from food and drink for hours before the procedure. Be sure to let your healthcare provider if you have any issues or concerns before or after your surgery.

explaining the operation
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Hernia surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you will most likely not need to spend the night in the hospital. Prior to surgery, you’ll go to a preop room, where you will be examined by the anesthesiologist.

Your surgery will take place in an operating room. You may have general anesthesia (in which you’re put to sleep) or localized anesthesia. After your surgery, you’ll need to spend some time monitored in a separate recovery room.

What to Wear

You will need to change into a hospital gown before your surgery.

When you go in for your surgery, there are a few things to consider as you get dressed.

  • Loose-fitting clothes: This will allow more comfort after the operation, easing any pressure on your surgical site. An additional change of clothes is not necessary.
  • Slip-on shoes: Shoes that are easy to take on and off can be easier to manage after your surgery. If you need to bend over to get them on, choose another pair.
  • Avoid jewelry: Jewelry and valuables should be left at home or with a trusted friend or family member.

Prior to surgery, you’ll get a full consultation on what to expect on the day of surgery.

Food and Drink

As with most surgeries, preparation for hernia surgery will involve diet restrictions: That's because fluids and food within the digestive system can also lead to complications or problems during surgery.

  • No liquids: You’ll be asked to abstain from drinking coffee, water, or any other fluids for about eight hours prior to treatment.
  • Food restrictions: You’ll be asked to avoid eating anything for at least eight hours before going in for surgery. Most often, the treatment is scheduled in the morning, so healthcare providers will often advise refraining from food after midnight the night before treatment.

Your surgeon may also ask you to bathe beforehand, making sure to clean your abdomen with a mild antibacterial soap.


When you go for your pre-operative appointment, bring a list of medications you're taking. Let the anesthesiologist and surgeon know if you have any allergies.

Your surgeon may advise you to stop taking certain medications for a specified period of time before your surgery.

These include:

Do not stop taking any prescription blood thinners without discussing the changes with your surgeon. And be sure to ask when you should restart any medications that you are instructed to stop prior to surgery.

What to Bring

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to bring to your surgery appointment:

  • Insurance card and information
  • A list of medications you’re taking ready
  • A family member or friend to drive you home

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

Alongside following your healthcare provider’s instructions, quitting smoking is essential for improving surgical outcomes and helping the incision site heal properly. In your consultations and evaluations with your healthcare provider, make sure to inform them if you are a smoker; they can also direct you towards resources that can help you quit.

This is, of course, not easy, but the benefits go well beyond decreasing the risk of complications.

A Word From Verywell

While the prospect of hernia surgery can be daunting, it’s important to remember that this procedure is very common and highly successful. Mortality is very, very rare—less than one percent of patients die due to complications—and less than 10% of patients may have a subsequent hernia. In addition, contemporary approaches to this treatment have made it even safer and more effective.

Throughout the process—as you get ready to go in for the operation and after—be sure to be open and communicative with your healthcare provider and the medical team. If anything feels awry or you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to let them know.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Surgeons. Groin hernia repair: Inguinal and femoral.

  2. Harvard Health. Hernia repair.

  3. WakeMed Health & Hospitals. Hernia repair: What to expect.

  4. Fan Chiang YH, Lee YW, Lam F, Liao CC, Chang CC, Lin CS. Smoking increases the risk of postoperative wound complications: A propensity score-matched cohort study. Int Wound J. 2022 Jul 9. doi:10.1111/iwj.13887

By Mark Gurarie
Mark Gurarie is a freelance writer, editor, and adjunct lecturer of writing composition at George Washington University.