Bulge after hernia surgery – is it normal?

Bulge after hernia surgery

Hernia is a condition when an internal organ (such as an intestine) or a fatty tissue bulges/protrudes the tissue and muscle holding it in place. This typically happens due to weakening of the muscles caused by continuous stress in the area. Hernia doesn’t go away on it’s own and will need a surgery. The surgery involves putting back the tissue or organ in it’s place and strengthening the supporting muscle with sutures or with mesh like devices made from foreign inorganic substances.

Is swelling common after hernia surgery?

Swelling after inguinal hernia or umbilical hernia is very common. Most of the times, that doesn’t indicate a problem. Whenever there is an injury on any part of the body or if there’s been a surgery done, the area is filled with fluid that helps in healing process. The fluid is the supplier of nutrients the cells in the area will need to repair and heal. Eventually, the fluids are absorbed by the body and the swelling goes down. Depending on the type (and area) of hernia repaired, the swelling may vary and the time for the swelling or bulge to go way can range up to six months or above.

Along with swelling/bulging after the surgery, a few of drops of blood may get collected in the bulged region. This can change the colour of the swollen area to blue or black. This is normal and one need not panic about it. To make sure that everything is alright, the surgeon may be contacted and if needed, he/she may give you some medication. Typically, in case of corrected inguinal hernia, the collected blood can drop into the scrotum turning the scrotum area to blue or black. This should resolve in few days and the colour of the skin should become normal.

What is the swelling after hernia surgery doesn’t go away after few months?

As said, the swelling after hernia surgery is normal. You will need to see your gastroenterologist near you if the swelling doesn’t go away as that might indicate a recurrence or an infection. The chances of infection after hernia surgery are very less, typically around 1%. Rest of the times, it is just the normal bulge or swelling that you may experience. If the pain or swelling keeps getting worse by the day and if that is accompanied by reddening of the skin, it usually indicates an infection and you need to see your surgeon immediately.

Chances of recurrence of hernia are 20% and the odds of recurrence go down with the type of hernia. Recurrence of Umbilical, Epigastric and Incisional hernia is high while the recurrence of rest of the types of hernia is less than 10%. Simpler way to identify recurrence is, swelling/bulging of the area after many months after the surgery.  In cases of recurrence of hernia, your doctor may perform another surgery.


Swelling or bulging after hernia surgery at the incision site is pretty common and there is very little to worry about. Body secretes fluids to help the area heal. When the bulge or swelling doesn’t go away after few months or if there is a discolouration of skin that doesn’t go away, you will need to see your doctor again. Bulge or swelling that shows up after several months after the surgery can indicate a recurrence which needs to be treated again.

Dr. Karthik Gunasekaran