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Treatment options for hernias include non-operative management and surgery.

Non-operative management

If you have a hernia but it is not causing any (or only minimal) symptoms, and not impacting on your activities or quality of life, it may not be necessary to have an operation to repair the hernia. While having a hernia does carry some small risks, for example of bowel becoming stuck in the hernia causing an emergency blockage, the risk of this may be low and has to be compared against the risks of performing surgery. Your doctor can help you decide what is best for you.

Some patients find special supports such as a truss or corset can help support their hernia and control any symptoms they may have.


The only way to get rid of a hernia is an operation. In general, a hernia can be repaired by either using stitches to hold the hole closed to allow the body to heal over, or by inserting a mesh to reinforce the body's healing process. Which method is used may be determined by the type of hernia, its size, whether it is the first time the hernia is being repaired or if it has come back after a previous repair. Most hernia types can also be done using a key-hole approach or through an open operation. Usually the operation is done under a general anaesthetic, but some types of hernia can be repaired under local anaesthetic. This may be considered if the risks of general anaesthesia are thought to be particularly high. The type of operation, use of mesh and type of anaesthetic can be discussed with your doctor.

As with any operation, there are benefits and risks. The benefits are that the operation can get rid of the hernia, relieving any symptoms and preventing problems that can develop such as a blockage to the bowel. However, there are risks. These include bleeding and infection, as well as clots on the legs or lungs, and damage to nearby structures such as blood vessels or nerves. Hernias can also come back, often called a 'recurrence'. Different types of hernia have slightly different risks which your doctor will discuss with you. Specific details about repair of the most common type of hernia, the inguinal hernia, are described under the tabs for these.