Results vs risksof the surgery

Hernia repair is one of the most common surgical procedures


Most people are satisfied with the results of their inguinal hernia repair and lack of ongoing chronic pain. Keyhole surgery tends to be associated with a higher rate of satisfaction than open surgery.


There are a number of possible complications and risks associated with hernia repairs. Smoking can increase these risks.

  • nerve pain causing tingling or numbness. Open surgery: 10.7%, keyhole: 7.4%. You may need more surgery.
  • recurrence: a hernia can return after the repair. Open surgery: 4.9%, keyhole: 10.1%. Recurrence is half as likely when mesh is used. Older men who’ve had keyhole surgery experience an especially high rate of recurrence.
  • chronic pain. At 3 months, 2.8% of people experience chronic pain after surgery. At 2 years, the rate is between 4.5% and 23%, and at 4 years, it’s 31%. Chronic pain is more likely if your surgery is done as an emergency, or after recurrent hernia. Chronic pain is less likely with keyhole than with open surgery. Pain caused by compression or tension may gradually decrease with time.
  • seroma. A collection of clear or yellow fluid around the site of your removed hernia. The incidence of seroma with mesh repairs is 8%, and for repairs without mesh it’s 3.1%. You may need to remove the fluid with a sterile needle.
  • complications of general anaesthesia. These can include infection, breathing difficulty, blood clots, kidney and cardiac complications. Open surgery: 1.5%, keyhole: 1.2%.
  • haematoma: a collection of blood in your wound site or scrotum. Mesh repairs: 2.2%, repairs without mesh: 7%. Haematomas are treated with anti-inflammatory medications, elevation, and rest. Rarely, blood replacement or further testing for a blood vessel injury is needed.
  • infection. Open surgery: 0.3%, keyhole: 0.2%. Antibiotics and drainage may be required.
  • pneumonia. Open surgery: 0.1%, keyhole: 0.1%. Moving, deep breathing, and stopping smoking can help reduce your risk of pneumonia.
  • urinary tract infection. Open surgery: 0.1%, keyhole: 0.1%. Drinking plenty of fluids and catheter care reduce your risk.
  • venous thrombosis (blood clot in your legs): Open surgery: 0.1%, keyhole: 0.1%. Longer surgery and bed rest increases your risk. Getting up, walking 5 to 6 times per day, and wearing support stockings reduces your risk.

Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your surgery.

Important information

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.