Surgery to repair an inguinal hernia is quite safe and complications are uncommon. Knowledge of possible risks allows patients to report post-operative symptoms to their doctor as soon as they occur.
- Risk of general anesthesia: Before surgery, the anesthesiologist-a doctor who administers anesthesia-reviews the risks of anesthesia with the patient and asks about medical history and allergies to medications. Complications are likely to occur in older people and those with other medical conditions. Common complications include nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, sore throat, and headache. Serious problems include heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, and blood clots in the legs.
- Hernia recurrence: A hernia can recur up to several years after repair. Recurrence is the most common complication of inguinal hernia repair, causing patients to undergo a second operation. Hernia recurrence occurs less often after a hernioplasty.
- Bleeding: Bleeding inside the incision is another complication of inguinal hernia repair. It can cause severe swelling and bluish discoloration of the skin around the incision. Surgery may be necessary to open the incision and stop the bleeding. Bleeding is unusual and occurs in less than two percent of patients.
- Wound infection: The risk of wound infection is less than two percent and is more likely to occur in older adults and people who undergo more complex hernia repair. The person may experience a fever, discharge from the incision, and redness, swelling, or tenderness around the incision. Post-operative infection requires antibiotics and, occasionally, another procedure requiring local anesthesia to make a small opening in the incision and drain the infection.
- Painful scar: Sometimes people experience sharp, tingling pain in a specific area near the incision after it has healed. The pain usually resolves with time. Medicine may be injected in the area if the pain continues.
- Injury to internal organs: Although extremely rare, injury to the intestine, bladder, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels leading to the legs, internal female organs, and vas deferens-the tube that carries sperms can occur during hernia surgery and may lead to more operations.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.