Activity restrictions after hernia surgery

First week

Rest, but don't stay in bed

First Month

No exertion

After one month

No restrictions

The purpose of restricting activity during your recovery from hernia surgery is to maximize comfort, minimize complications and ensure optimal long term results. We advise different levels of activity restriction during the first week and during the first month.

During the first week rest at home, do not work and do not drive. Do not stay in bed unless absolutely necessary. Staying bed can cause dangerous blood clots. Do not walk more than is necessary to take care of your basic needs: going to the dinner table, using the restroom and finding the clicker for the TV. Have someone else take care of basic chores such as making the bed or taking out the trash. You may feel well enough to do these things but it is better if you rest. Do not drive a car in the first week because early in your recovery you are an impaired driver. Your reflexes are slower and your ability to judge speed and distance are not 100% and therefore you are a danger to yourself and others on the road.

After one week if you are no longer taking pain medications you may drive. You may walk as much as you find comfortable and you may resume light duty work. This means do not lift more than 20 lbs. Do not go to the gym. Do not jog or use the stair master. And do not otherwise exert yourself. Sex is permissible after two weeks but let your partner do most of the work and do not traumatize the wound.

After four to six weeks you may resume normal activity without restriction. Your surgeon will tell you if it is 4 or 6 for you as an individual. When resuming a strenuous work out routine it is advisable to start slow and easy and work your way cautiously back up to your normal strain over the next month.

These recommendations are based on tradition and experience of Dr. Petersen. They have changed a little over the years. Studies have been done see if there is a consensus among surgeons. These studies have shown that recommendations vary widely between surgeons. The question of activity restrictions has never been scientifically studied and we caution patients who are impressed by early return to work claims.