Mr Charles Imber offers expert abdominal surgery. The operations that he performs can treat a variety of conditions that affect the organs inside the abdomen (pancreas, gallbladder, liver, spleen, small and large intestine) or the abdominal wall (hernias).

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Hernia repair failure

Not all hernia repairs are successful. Some fail soon after surgery, making a second procedure necessary, while others last for years before problems occur. Re-doing a repair is often more difficult than the original operation, particularly if there is a lot of tissue damage or an infection.

Signs of early hernia repair failure

A hernia repair can fail shortly after hernia surgery due to problems with healing or the technique used by the surgeon. Inexperienced surgeons have lower success rates than specialists in hernia repair.

All surgery carries risks and complications can arise in an apparently uncomplicated hernia repair:

The wound can become infected, and this infection can spread to the hernia repair mesh, if one was used.

A large blood clot or a haematoma can form around the repair. This may reduce during the couple of weeks after surgery and may not mean the repair has failed.

The repair is stitched incorrectly and this causes a second hernia to form next to the repair site. There is then a danger of infection.

Signs of a late hernia repair failure

The body wall can weaken with age and with increasing body weight and girth as the increasing size of the abdomen puts pressure on the repair site. Both of these factors make a second hernia more likely and they also increase the risk that a hernia will recur even though it was repaired successfully years before.

A hernia repair can also fail several months or years after surgery, such as when:

A new uncomplicated hernia forms at the site of the original repair due to a breakdown of the body wall. This is more common if the original repair was done using an open surgical technique. It can be treated by a second repair, usually done laparoscopically.

The hernia repair mesh used originally becomes infected. This may occur if a second hernia forms and becomes strangulated and infected. Once bacteria grow within the mesh structure, they are very difficult to get rid of and the mesh usually needs to be removed.

How can you avoid hernia repair failure?

If you have symptoms of a lump in your abdomen or groin, see a specialist who can tell you if you have a hernia and who can suggest the best form of treatment. Choosing a surgeon who is experienced in repairing hernias using laparoscopic surgery is the best way to avoid complications with a hernia repair. Success rates vary with different techniques, but a good surgeon who does frequent hernia repairs will generally have better success rates than a surgeon who only does half a dozen repairs each year.

Lifestyle after your hernia repair is also important so try to:

  • Stay active and avoid gaining weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is high in fibre and drink plenty of fluids so that you are never constipated.
  • Stop smoking, if you haven’t already, and see your doctor if you develop a severe cough after a cold.
  • Avoid heavy lifting as much as possible.


  • A lump in the abdomen or groin that appears close to the original hernia.
  • Fever, nausea, vomiting and generally feeling unwell due to infection of the repair mesh. The original surgery site will feel hot and sore.
  • Feeling bloated and being unable to pass stools: This is a danger sign of a bowel obstruction caused by a strangulated hernia.


  • Failed hernia repairs are best assessed by a specialist surgeon with experience in treating complex hernia cases.


  • Laparoscopic hernia repair using a surgical or biological mesh.
  • Open hernia repair using a surgical or biological mesh.
  • Reconstructive surgery using component separation techniques.

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