Incisional hernia repair can be performed open or laparoscopically, depending on the size of your hernia and other factors. Both approaches will usually require a few days in hospital. A mesh (medical grade plastic sheet) is often placed in the tissue layers over the hernia repair to decrease the risk of the hernia coming back. Pain relief is usually necessary due to many sutures being required to secure the mesh in place. Plastic drains occasionally need to be left at the surgical site for a few days to drain away any tissue fluid from the old hernia space.
The decision to recommend surgical repair of incisional hernias comes down to assessment of the risk of complication (strangulation of fat or bowel in the hernia, bowel obstruction) and your symptoms. Asymptomatic incisional hernias, those that are soft and don’t cause much discomfort, generally do not need to be repaired.
Incisional hernia repair has all the usual small risks of surgery (anaesthetic, bleeding, infection) but also some unique risks. Infection of the mesh, if placed, is a very rare but potentially serious problem. All hernia repairs have a risk of hernia recurrence long term. Depending on various patient factors, this is between 2 and 5%.