At NYU Langone, surgical repair of many hernias in adults is not necessary. Your doctor may recommend watchful waiting if a hernia is small or causes no symptoms, or if you have other conditions that increase the risk for complications from surgery. With this approach, you visit your doctor once a year or if any symptoms, such as pain, worsen.
People age 70 or older and those being treated for other conditions may choose watchful waiting. This includes people receiving chemotherapy, as well as those who have stents or pacemakers. People who have had serious heart events or conditions, such as a heart attack or heart failure, may also opt for watchful waiting for a hernia.
Symptoms of a rare but serious condition, called a strangulated hernia, include sudden, severe abdominal pain and a tender, swollen, red, and hardened bulge in the abdomen or groin. If you experience these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.