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Umbilical Hernia Surgery


Umbilical (belly button) Hernia Surgery (open/laparoscopic/robotic):

  • Incision(s)/Wound care: Your incision(s) will have stitches that dissolve on the inside and a medical superglue on the outside.  Briefly, you don’t have to do anything. Nothing to take care of; nothing to dress or care for. You may shower the next day. No bath/swimming pool for at least a week.
  • Binder: If you were sent home with a wrap then please read this. The wrap is an elastic band that has velcro. Please note that not everyone has one/needs one. If you do have this, please keep it on all the time except taking a shower. Wear it at least until you return for postop visit (usually will have you wear this for 4-6 weeks). Occasionally there is gauze underneath it at the area where the hernia was. If this is the case, please take the gauze off to take a shower and then place the gauze back on this area – it is there to place pressure (gentle) on the area of the hernia to prevent fluid collection.
  • Ice: It helps to ice the area of the incision/hernia for at least the first day or two. Apply ice for 15 minutes at a time every couple of hours while awake (do not apply ice directly on skin).
  • Soreness/postoperative pain: Some pain is obviously expected. You will be sent home with a prescription for pain medication. The usual pain medication is Norco which is a hydrocodone and Tylenol mixture. Most people who have an allergy to codeine are able to take this without issues. You may also transition to advil, motrin, aleve, or Tylenol. Please do NOT take Tylenol with the Norco as this will lead to too much Tylenol as Norco has this in it.
  •  Nausea: Nausea and occasionally vomiting is not uncommon for the first 24 hours. This is usually due to the medicines to put you to sleep as well as the surgery itself. Occasionally nausea can persist for a few days. During this time you should try to drink as much liquids as possible to keep from getting dehydrated.
  • Diet: You will be able to go back to a normal diet. There are no restrictions. At first try small portions and if you tolerate it, you can increase intake.
  • Back to work?: Typically patients are able to return to work after about a week. Please remember that your energy level will lag behind how you feel. Some need to take an additional week or two of light duty/part time. When you get more tired than usual in the afternoon, this is normal!
  • Swelling: some abdominal distention is normal. This should improve with time. Make sure that you are not becoming constipated (which happens with the pain medications). Swelling at the incision sites is normal and you may even feel a lump under the incision. This is normal and will occasionally take a few months to completely go away. Bruising is normal around the incision.
  • Constipation: This WILL happen! Whether you take a few or a whole bunch, pain medicine tends to lead to constipation, but it also seems like this surgery worsens things as well. My recommendation is to at least take a stool softener while taking pain medicine. I recommend Colace twice a day. This is over the counter but I will likely give you a prescription along with the pain medication prescription. Sometimes even this is not enough, though. Do not let it go for more than a few days without a bowel movement – it only gets harder! I recommend over-the-counter laxatives if you have not had a bowel movement after a few days (a few days is 2 or 3 days, not a week!). I usually recommend miralax at this point. Dulcolax and some of the other over-the-counter laxatives are also good. If you find this not working, usually an enema (fleets enema over the counter) is the next line of therapy. The last line of therapy would be something like magnesium citrate, etc. If you have home remedies or certain foods that work for you, feel free to do this as well.
  • Paperwork for short term disability/abscence/leave: Please bring these papers by the office for our nursing staff to fill out. You may bring them at the time of follow up visit. Unfortunately, we may not be able to get these back to you the same day.
  • Follow up appointments: Please call the office after your surgery and set up a follow up appointment for 1 week after your surgery (2 weeks is fine if it works better for your scheduling).
  • Fever:  Postoperative fever can be normal – several days of low-grade fever is normal. This means fever may even be normal up to 101 f. The best thing to do for low grade fever is to work your lungs. Your lungs are the most common source for this fever. If you were sent home with a clear breathing machine, work on that several times every hour. If you do not have one of these machines, purchase a balloon (any balloon works) and practice blowing the balloon up several times an hour. The purpose is to expand your lungs (deep breaths) and will help the fever. You may take tylenol for but DO NOT take tylenol with pain medicine that already has tylenol (acetaminophen) in it.
  • Wound complications: Incisions typically heal with a small amount of pink/red around the incision. Also itching is normal. Bruising (all colors: blue/purple/yellow/green) can also be seen at the incision site or around it. A small amount of clear/reddish fluid drainage can sometimes be seen as well and is usually ok. If the incision site becomes bright red or starts to drain excessively, please contact the office.
  • Activity level: In general, the more activity the better. This means walking around and other non-strenuous activity. It is better to hurt a little more and be active than to lay on the couch for a week. Your legs need to help circulate your blood so you don’t get blood clots. They do this best when walking. You will notice that your energy level is not what it was before surgery. This is normal. When you feel tired, it is time to rest. It usually takes longer than you think to get your energy level back. I recommend no heavy lifting (> 15 pounds) for 4 weeks after the surgery. No major ab workouts for 4 weeks.
  • Itching/Rash: Some itching is normal. The best treatment for itching is over-the-counter Benadryl. Please be aware that this can cause drowsiness. This is preferable to anti-itch creams but these too may be used if you have no relief with Benadryl (although preferably not directly on the incisions). Occasionally people will develop a rash right around the incision(s). If this happens, you are likely allergic to either the superglue, stitches, or your body reacts this way to incisions. The same treatment as above is recommended. Also, a few people will have a generalized rash that covers just the abdomen. This likely signifies that you are allergic to the cleaning solution used to prep the skin before surgery. Again, the same treatment as above is recommended. For relief, sometimes around the clock Benadryl is needed for several days.
  • Driving: You may drive when you feel that you are able to AND not on pain medication.
  • When to call: Please call the office if you experience:
    • fever > 101.5
    • pain that is worsening
    • redness, increasing swelling, or foul smelling area around the incision(s)
    • any other concerning events