Your Child's Recovery
After surgery to repair a hernia, your child is likely to have pain for a few days. Your child may also feel tired and have less energy than normal. This is common.
Your child should feel better after a few days and will probably feel much better in 7 days. For several weeks your child may feel discomfort or pulling in the groin area when moving. Your child may have some bruising near the repair site and on their genitals. This is normal.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for your child at home?
- Have your child rest when he or she feels tired. Getting enough sleep will help your child recover.
- Have your child walk a little more each day. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- Put ice or a cold pack on the area of your child's hernia repair for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 24 hours (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
- Your child should not ride a bike, play running games, or take part in gym class until your doctor says it is okay.
- Make sure your child avoids lifting anything that would make your child strain. This may include a heavy backpack, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, or bags of cat litter or dog food.
- Most children are able to return to their normal routine 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
- Your child may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery, if the doctor okays it. Pat the cut (incision) dry. Your child must not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until the doctor tells you it is okay.
- Your child can eat a normal diet. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Have your child drink plenty of fluids (unless the doctor tells you not to).
- You may notice a change in your child's bowel habits right after surgery. This is common. If your child has not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, call your doctor.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when your child can restart his or her medicines. The doctor will also give you instructions about your child taking any new medicines.
- Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
- If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If you think that pain medicine is making your child feel sick to his or her stomach:
- Give the medicine after meals (unless the doctor has told you not to).
- Ask the doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If your child's cut (incision) was closed with skin glue, the glue will wear off in a few days to 2 weeks. Do not put antibiotic ointment or cream on the glue.
- If there are strips of tape on the cut the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- If there are staples closing the cut, you will need to see the doctor in 1 to 2 weeks to have them removed.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which may delay healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
- Your child is short of breath.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- Your child has pain that does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
- Your child has loose stitches, or the incision comes open.
- Your child cannot pass stools or gas.
- Your child is sick to the stomach and cannot drink fluids.
- Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage.
- Your child has signs of a blood clot in the leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in the leg or groin.
- Your child has signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- A fever.
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if your child has any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter K550 in the search box to learn more about "Inguinal Hernia Repair Surgery in Children: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: November 30, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kenneth Bark MD - General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery