What You Need To Know: Hernia Recurrence After Surgery

Article originally posted on G&L Surgical

When you’ve undergone surgery to repair a hernia, it’s only natural to hope that the problem has been definitively addressed. However, much to the frustration of patients and medical practitioners alike, hernias can sometimes make an unwelcome comeback. This is what’s known as hernia recurrence. If you find yourself dealing with this issue, there are some crucial things to understand.

In this article, we discuss hernia recurrence and ways to prevent it from happening.

What Causes A Hernia Recurrence?

The cause of hernia recurrence isn’t straightforward and can depend on several different factors. In some cases, it may be due to the inherent characteristics of the patient, such as age, overall health, weight, and whether they smoke or not. 

For instance, patients who are obese or smoke are at a higher risk of recurrence because these factors can impede the healing process.

Other potential culprits include the type of hernia, the technique used in the initial repair, and the surgeon’s experience. For example, some types of hernias are more prone to recurrence than others, and using a mesh in the repair process has been shown to lower the recurrence risk.

Furthermore, post-operative complications like infections can increase the likelihood of recurrence. It’s also essential to remember that overexertion or strain during recovery can compromise the repair, leading to a recurrence.

What Are The Chances Of A Hernia Recurrence?

The chance of hernia recurrence varies considerably and can be influenced by the factors mentioned above. However, research suggests that the overall recurrence rate is around 10-15%. The type of surgery – whether open or laparoscopic – will also influence the chances of recurrences. It’s important to discuss your individual risk with your doctor, considering your personal circumstances and the specifics of your surgery.

How Do I Know If My Hernia Repair Failed?

Hernia Recurrence, Hernia Surgery, G&L Surgical, Dr Ganesh Ramalingam

If your hernia repair has failed, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. These can include the reappearance of a bulge in the same area as the original hernia, often accompanied by discomfort or pain, especially when lifting heavy objects or straining. You may also experience feelings of fullness or pressure in the area and, in some cases, nausea or vomiting.

Please note that these symptoms are not definitive of a hernia recurrence. However, they warrant immediate medical attention to rule out recurrence or other complications.

Can A Hernia Be Repaired A Second Time?

Absolutely. A hernia can indeed be repaired a second time. This is known as a hernia revision surgery. The approach to this surgery can be more complex due to scar tissue from the previous operation and the weakened tissue in the affected area. 

However, with careful planning and the recommended surgical techniques, recurrence can be successfully managed.

How To Prevent A Hernia Relapse?

Avoid Hernia Recurrence, Hernia Surgery Failure, G&L Surgical, Dr Ganesh Ramalingam

Preventing a hernia relapse starts from the moment your initial surgery ends. Following your doctor’s post-operative care instructions is crucial. This often includes advice about physical activity, dietary adjustments, and wound care.

Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and engaging in regular exercise can significantly decrease the likelihood of recurrence. Furthermore, it’s important to avoid heavy lifting and strain during the recovery process, as these actions can compromise the repair.

For those with jobs or lifestyles involving regular heavy lifting, it may be necessary to consider adjustments or use supportive equipment to reduce the risk of a hernia relapse.


Hernia recurrence is an unfortunate possibility for anyone who has undergone hernia repair surgery. Understanding what causes recurrence, recognising the symptoms, knowing that a second repair is possible, and taking steps to prevent hernia relapse can equip you with the tools needed to navigate this challenge.

Remember, your doctor or healthcare provider is your best source of personalised advice in these situations. They can guide you based on your individual health profile and surgical history. While a hernia recurrence can be a disheartening setback, remember that it’s a hurdle that can be overcome with the right care and preventative measures.