If your hernia is small and isn't bothering you, your doctor might recommend watchful waiting. In children, the doctor might try applying manual pressure to reduce the bulge before considering surgery.

Enlarging or painful hernias usually require surgery to relieve discomfort and prevent serious complications.

There are two general types of hernia operations — open hernia repair and laparoscopic repair.

Open hernia repair

In this procedure, which might be done with local anesthesia and sedation or general anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision in your groin and pushes the protruding tissue back into your abdomen. The surgeon then sews the weakened area, often reinforcing it with a synthetic mesh (hernioplasty). The opening is then closed with stitches, staples or surgical glue.

After the surgery, you'll be encouraged to move about as soon as possible, but it might be several weeks before you're able to resume normal activities.


In this minimally invasive procedure, which requires general anesthesia, the surgeon operates through several small incisions in your abdomen. Gas is used to inflate your abdomen to make the internal organs easier to see.

A small tube equipped with a tiny camera (laparoscope) is inserted into one incision. Guided by the camera, the surgeon inserts tiny instruments through other incisions to repair the hernia using synthetic mesh.

People who have laparoscopic repair might have less discomfort and scarring after surgery and a quicker return to normal activities. However, some studies indicate that hernia recurrence is more likely with laparoscopic repair than with open surgery.

Laparoscopy allows the surgeon to avoid scar tissue from an earlier hernia repair, so it might be a good choice for people whose hernias recur after traditional hernia surgery. It also might be a good choice for people with hernias on both sides of the body (bilateral).

Some studies indicate that a laparoscopic repair can increase the risk of complications and of recurrence. Having the procedure performed by a surgeon with extensive experience in laparoscopic hernia repairs can reduce the risks.

June 15, 2016
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  2. Ramsook C, et al. Overview of inguinal hernia in children. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
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  4. Inguinal hernia. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Accessed Dec. 27, 2015.
  5. Treadwell J, et al. Surgical options for inguinal hernia: Comparative effectiveness review, No. 70. Rockville, Md.: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2012.