In open hernia repair surgery, a single incision is made in the groin or other site of hernia. If the hernia is bulging out of the abdominal wall (a direct hernia), the bulge is pushed back into place.

The weak spot in the muscle wall—where the hernia bulges through—traditionally has been repaired by sewing the edges of healthy muscle tissue together (herniorrhaphy). This is appropriate for smaller hernias that have been present since birth (indirect hernias) and for healthy tissues, where it is possible to use stitches without adding stress on the tissue. But the surgical approach varies depending on the area of muscle wall to be repaired and the surgeon’s preference.

Mesh patches of synthetic material are now being widely used to repair hernias (hernioplasty). This is especially true for large hernias and for hernias that reoccur. Patches are sewn over the weakened area in the abdominal (belly) wall after the hernia is pushed back into place. The patch decreases the tension on the weakened belly wall, reducing the risk that a hernia will recur.