An informative visual from the practice of Dr. Rajarshi Mitra, Specialist Laparoscopic Surgeon & Proctologist in Abu Dhabi, featuring the inquiry 'How long can you live with an inguinal hernia without surgery?' The image illustrates a healthcare provider highlighting a bubble labeled 'Long-Term Care', signifying the consideration of conservative management for an inguinal hernia. The green background and inguinal hernia icon support the theme of patient education and long-term health management.


Patients with an inguinal hernia often wonder how long they can safely go without having surgery to repair it. While postponing repair is sometimes reasonable initially, living with an inguinal hernia indefinitely can lead to impaired quality of life and serious complications. In this article, I’ll discuss the risks and benefits of delaying hernia surgery over both the short- and long-term.

Living With a Hernia Short-Term

For patients with minimal hernia symptoms, it can be reasonable to monitor the hernia expectantly for a short time. Using over-the-counter pain medication, ice, and a supportive truss device may provide relief without surgery in the near future. But delaying too long runs the risk of sudden incarceration or strangulation requiring emergency surgery.

Small hernias that do not restrict activity may only need to be repaired within 5 years or so. However, research shows a higher long-term risk of complications when repair is delayed more than just a few months from the initial diagnosis. Postponing surgery should have an appropriate medical rationale.

Living With a Hernia Long-Term

Living for years with a known, symptomatic inguinal hernia is generally ill-advised. Why undergo daily discomfort and functional limitations when an elective repair would allow you to live normally? The hernia may gradually enlarge over time, leading to more impairments. Activities like bending, lifting, and exercise become more difficult.

The threat of potentially deadly complications also increases the longer a hernia remains unrepaired. Strangulation and bowel obstruction require emergency surgery and hospitalization. Hernias that extend into the scrotum put testicles and fertility at eventual risk as well.

Who Should Not Delay Hernia Surgery

Certain high-risk patients should never adopt a “wait and see” approach:

– Those with severe, constant pain or disability

– People whose jobs require heavy lifting/straining

– Those with recurrent hernias or prior complications

– Patients with significant heart/lung conditions

– Those with difficulty accessing emergency care

Putting off surgery indefinitely with the hope that the hernia will heal itself or stop growing is unrealistic. Repair should be scheduled before serious complications arise that could impact health and quality of life.

Summary of Key Points:

– Short delays for small hernias may be temporarily acceptable

– Postponing surgery beyond a few months has higher risks

– Living long-term with symptoms has negative impacts

– The threat of complications rises over time without repair

– High-risk patients should never delay hernia surgery

While I understand people’s desire to avoid surgery, repairing an inguinal hernia is typically very low risk and allows full activity. Please let me know if you have any other questions!


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  • Anal Fissure
  • Anal Fistula
  • Gallbladder
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Inguinal Hernia
  • Pilonidal Sinus
Google Rating
Based on 568 reviews
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