Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia. A bulge appears around the groin or scrotum area because fatty tissue or part of your bowel has pushed through the inguinal canal.

Inguinal hernias occur mainly in men. Most are thought to result from ageing, although they can occur at any age. This is because as you get older, the muscles surrounding your abdomen (tummy) can become weaker.

Inguinal hernias can sometimes appear suddenly after putting pressure on the abdomen, such as straining on the toilet if you have constipation or carrying and pushing heavy loads. They have also been linked to having a persistent, heavy cough.

This type of hernia can be resolved with surgery.

Different types of inguinal hernias

There are two different types of inguinal hernia. They’re differentiated by how they develop.

  • Direct inguinal hernia: this is where the hernia pushes through the inguinal wall. The hernia usually enters through a weakness in the abdominal wall.
  • Indirect inguinal hernia: this type of inguinal hernia occurs when the hernia pushes through the deep inguinal ring into the inguinal canal.

Inguinal hernia repair

Surgery to repair an inguinal hernia is sometimes needed to put the bulge back into the correct place. The procedure will normally be carried out as open or keyhole surgery, which is also often called laparoscopic surgery.

During the procedure, the tissue will be pushed back into place and the abdominal wall muscles will be strengthened to stop the inguinal hernia from coming back.

Both types of surgery can be used to repair inguinal hernias. The only difference is the way the procedure is carried out.

During open surgery the surgeon will make one cut to repair the hernia

If you have laparoscopic surgery the surgeon will make several smaller incisions and use special instruments to carry out the surgery. This method is less invasive and leaves smaller scars.

Your doctor will be able to recommend the best type of surgery for you.

Recovering from inguinal hernia surgery

There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. The type of surgery you have depends on which method suits you and your surgeon’s experience.

You should be able to go home the same day or the day after surgery. It’s important to follow the hospital’s instructions on how to look after yourself. This includes eating a good diet to avoid constipation, caring for the wound and not straining yourself too soon.

Most people make a full recovery from inguinal hernia repair within six weeks, although many people can return to driving, work and light activities within two weeks.