June 30, 2006 1:36 AM   Subscribe

Please tell about your degree of recovery from an abdominal hernia.

Yesterday, I was diagnosed with a small tear in the abdominal lining (peritoneum). The doctors recommended the standard surgical intervention, i.e. placing a form of mesh or webbing in my abdomen.

What I want to know is whether I will be able to continue to engage in demanding physical activities like tiling, bricklaying (so i finish renovating our house) and hobbies like ju-jitsu. Of course, i will take it easy for three weeks after the surgery. But afterwards ...?

In your case, did you make a full recovery, or do you always have to remain wary of any such 'heavy' activities? Is the hernia a distant memory, or do you still have to approach life gingerly?
posted by rudster to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Distant memory. I think it took me longer than 3 weeks before I could do anything major - might have been 6?

I was 11 so it was over 2 decades ago now. Haven't thought about it for years and years and years. I know I was in the South London judo team less than a year later. because I was the only one who turned up to the trials in my weight category, not because I was any good at it, so I got quite a hammering. Didn't cause any hernia problems though
posted by handee at 2:22 AM on June 30, 2006

I think I had it when I was 3, so I didn't do any particularly straining things shortly thereafter anyway, but I've got the surgery scar (very very minor) and don't have any limited mobility that I'm aware of. Age 28 now.
posted by vanoakenfold at 2:27 AM on June 30, 2006

My father had surgery for one at age 66 and two years later is not doing anything any differently from before.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:37 AM on June 30, 2006

I got the mesh for a fairly large umbilical hernia a couple of year ago (I postponed surgery for as long as I dared, but it was like a golf ball trying to squeeze out through my belly button).

I recovered quickly. I took it easy for a few weeks, but that was out of choice, apparently not out of need. Since then, I've been doing tai-chi twice a week with high kicks and stomach crunches and so on. I also lift heavy things, dig in the garden, run around in the woods, carry groceries and children and large rocks and water buckets, and engage in other vigorous abdomen-intensive activities I won't bore you with. Even if you are Rocko the Magnificent, circus strongman, I don't think this is going to mess with your daily activities.

I'm off for a week of daily all-day tai-chi and general exercise starting tomorrow. I'll let you know if I come home with a bust gut, but it's unlikely that that will happen. The failure rate for these things is low. I sometimes think "Oh, shit!" when I get a stomach ache or pain, but it always turns out to be a regular old stomach ache or cramp. After a few weeks of nothing bad happening, you'll forget about it.
posted by pracowity at 2:50 AM on June 30, 2006

I was playing cricket again after a month!
posted by kenchie at 3:12 AM on June 30, 2006

I had this done I think back in 96, and yeah it hurt like a bitch for a few days to try and do anything involving abdominal muscles..., but was pretty much healed after a month, and soon enough was like it had never happened. And I was and still am very physically active - construction work involving extreme lifting etc.. back then, and serious rock climbing, then and now.
I don't think you have much to worry about, except a few days of difficulty getting out of bed - you have to roll over rather than sit up.
posted by Flashman at 4:26 AM on June 30, 2006

I was playing soccer about a month later; shouldn't be an issue.
posted by inigo2 at 5:14 AM on June 30, 2006

Well, the wife had a large inguinal hernia operated on last september (took 2X the mesh) and she's had a slow recovery. Still not able to lift waht shw used to, residual numbness, etc. YMMV
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:31 AM on June 30, 2006

I've had four hernias in my life, at 21 then 27 then 35. three inguinal and one abdominal. Two were operated on at the same time.

The first 2 days it will be hard to get up and down. The next 2 weeks you can walk around but will want to take it easy.. no streneous activity is what the doctor will tell you.

After 2 weeks, you are almost back to normal. I went back to the treadmill after this time.

These meshes are pretty good, you'll be in good shape and you won't notice any difference in your lifiting. However, if you are like me you may be psychologically wary of heavy lifting.

The main worry is recurrance. I'm finding a 6-7 year cycle for these operations, but that's just me.
posted by brucec at 6:50 AM on June 30, 2006

Best answer: The big question for recovery time is if they can perform the surgery laparoscopicly or if they will do a standard incision.

I had both, both for abdominal hernias.

The standard incision was much more painful and took 6 weeks to get a 'normal' level of functioning (i.e. going to work, going shopping, etc) and probably another 4 weeks after that before nothing hurt at all and I could do heavy lifting.

The laparoscope was only painful for about 3 days after the surgery and I was up and doing things as if nothing had happened 3-4 weeks later.

There will be a recovery time either way, but don't worry about anything permanent.

Also, I think the mesh helps immensely with recurrence. Like brucec, I had multiple hernias (at 13, 20, and 26) but the mesh was only available during my last surgery and (knock on wood) I have had not a twinge since.
posted by PissOnYourParade at 7:13 AM on June 30, 2006

I had hernia surgery about twenty years ago, so it wasn't a mesh job, just a stitch-it-up job. And I recovered completely. I've learned to lift with the legs not the back, but mainly because I'm worried about putting my back out.
posted by booth at 9:28 AM on June 30, 2006

I had an inguinal hernia that suddenly appeared one day (after doing some heavy lifting the day before). It stuck out about an inch and a half.

I had it done privately by one of the top guys in the country. I was absolutely fine the next day with absolutely no after effects (apart from a scar which has now faded away to nothing).
posted by alby at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2006

Response by poster: Many thanks for relating your experiences!
posted by rudster at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2006

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