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What is a hernia?

Your abdominal cavity contains many organs and structures, including your intestines. The intestines are protected by the abdominal wall, part of which is comprised of layers of muscle.

Weak spots can develop in these layers of muscle, allowing the contents of the abdomen to push through the abdominal wall. This produces a lump which is called a hernia.

You may be able to see or feel a hernia, although often they cause no localised symptoms or signs.

Types of hernia

There are four common types of hernia depending where the ‘weak’ spots are:

  • Inguinal hernia – This is the most common type of hernia. It occurs in the groin where blood vessels and other structures pass through the abdominal wall. This type of groin hernia usually causes a lump, often accompanied with discomfort and or pain and is more common in men.
  • Femoral hernia – These hernias also occur in the groin, somewhat lower than where inguinal hernias are found. They are more common in women.
  • Umbilical hernia – These occur around your umbilicus (belly button). They are common in babies but are also seen in adults for various reasons including repeated straining or being overweight.
  • Incisional hernia – Caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall at the site of an incision (cut) made for a previous operation. These hernias can vary in size and can occur anywhere in the abdominal wall.

If your hernia is small and not causing you any problems, it may not need any specific treatment. In these instances, your surgeon may advise a period of ‘watchful waiting’. If the hernia becomes bigger, or starts causing you pain, surgery may later be recommended.

Two types of surgery can be used to repair a hernia; ‘open’ and ‘laparoscopic’. Both have quick recovery times. Both types of surgery are usually done under general anaesthetic, meaning you will not be conscious during the operation. The type of surgery carried out will depend on the size and location of the hernia you have.

Open surgery

This operation involves a single small incision to repair the weak spot with either sutures or a mesh and takes approximately 60 minutes. A mesh is recommended to avoid the risk of the hernia recurring. Open surgery for groin hernia repair is usually done as a day case, meaning you will not need to stay overnight. Open surgery can also be performed under a local anaesthetic, which is particularly useful in patients who might be at risk from a general anaesthetic because of chest problems.

Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery

Laparoscopic surgery requires a general anaesthetic and may result in less pain in the immediate post-operative period. The operation also takes around 60 minutes and is carried out with the use of telescopes passed into the abdominal cavity/wall at a number of sites. You will usually be able to go home the day of surgery, although you may need to spend one night in hospital.

Following your surgery, whether open or laparoscopic, you will be taken to the recovery room where our theatre staff will monitor you carefully while you wake up from the anaesthetic. 

While you are recovering from your hernia repair, it is important you avoid putting unnecessary or excessive strain on the site of your recent surgery. Most people will be able to resume normal/light activities within a few days. You should not drive again until you are able to carry out an emergency stop without any pain or discomfort in your abdomen.

Like all surgical procedures, hernia surgery carries the potential for complications. These include: infection, bleeding at the site of the incision(s) and others dependent on the technique used. These are generally uncommon and your consultant will discuss these with you prior to any surgery.

We always recommend that you talk with your consultant about potential risks and complications before you decide to have any surgery.

The surgical team at St Joseph’s is highly experienced in carrying out hernia repair surgery.

If you are concerned about a hernia or are experiencing pain or discomfort in your abdomen or groin, please contact us to arrange a consultation with one of our specialist surgeons.

They will be able to assess the cause of your symptoms and give you guidance on the best treatment options available for you on an individual basis.


Initial consultation From: £150
Treatment £3,074
Pre-assessment Included
Main treatment Included
Post-discharge care Included
Guide price £3,224

*The above prices are guide prices only and subject to change at any given time. Diagnostic scans and investigations are not part of the guide price. The guide price indicates the starting price for the treatment.

The cost of treatment will be made clear to you before you proceed with any tests, scans, consultations, or treatment. Please read our terms and conditions. If you have private medical insurance please follow the guidance here.

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