UPDATE! Since writing this post, I have been contacted by several people asking about the operation. One of them offered to include a female perspective of the surgery, so that has been added too. Thanks Yvonne. I’ve also got some lingering problems which I’ve added to the end of my own piece.
Please feel free to jump to the section that’s relevant to you:
In June, 2015, I had the Lloyd Release Procedure to (hopefully) resolve a groin problem. As the time for surgery grew nearer, the lump in the back of my pants was bigger than anything at the front and I spent hours scouring the web for people who had actually had this procedure. While I did eventually find a couple of forum posters, it took a while to hunt them down, and I swore at the time that I would write up my experience post-surgery. So here we are.
Before we get into the details – if you are waiting for this operation, don’t panic. The surgery is really not that bad at all. The recovery is a little uncomfortable at times and took longer than I expected, but it is nothing to fear. If I had to have the surgery again, it really wouldn’t bother me at all.
The Groin Problem that Needed Surgery
The truth is, I don’t really know what caused my groin injury. In a space of a few weeks, quite a few things happened that may have caused it, but there wasn’t one particular event that triggered it. But what I do know is that all of a sudden, it felt like one of my testicles was swollen and ready to burst, the tubes leading into it were incredibly sore, and, at times, it felt like my testicle was facing the wrong way. This pain seemed to spread up higher into my groin until there was a stabbing pain somewhere to the right of my belly button and running all the way down to my scrotum. This went on for months, and after having anti-biotics, an ultrasound, and two appointments with NHS hernia specialists, I was told there was nothing they could do apart from pain killers. I wasn’t having any of that, so paid the money to go private. After seeing a urologist, I was referred to David Lloyd and within 5 minutes of seeing him, he had deduced that I needed the Lloyd release procedure as I most likely had some form of inguinal hernia.
The operation was going to be 3.5 grand private, and that little revelation hurt more than the hernia ever did! I intended to take Mr Lloyd’s diagnosis and go back to the NHS to get treatment, but then Mr Lloyd told me he did NHS referrals too. It was just a case of getting on the waiting list, or if I was lucky, getting my GP to go through some sort of fast referral scheme. I’d been going to my GP repeatedly complaining of the testicle pain for months, so I think they were glad to be rid of me, as they put me on the fast-track scheme straight-away. My appointment for the surgery was around 7 weeks after my initial consultation with Mr Lloyd.
The Day of the Lloyd Release Surgery at Nuffield Hospital, Leicester
On the day of the operation, I was nervous as hell. I’d made the mistake of referring to Dr Google in the weeks leading up to the op, and had filled my head with all sorts of horror stories about inguinal hernias, tumours, and, for me, the worst thing of all – catheters.
When my wife and I arrived at the hospital, there was a very short wait before we were guided up to my room for the day. And I have to say, it was pretty smart! I’ve paid good money to stay in hotels that were much, much worse. I think it took around 30 minutes before a nurse came around and gave me a gown and socks to wear (you have to wear those anti-thrombosis socks). Oh, and not forgetting the paper pants. Those really are a sight to behold. Then it was in to bed to wait for Mr Lloyd and the anaesthetist to pop round and tell me when they were going to carve me up. Sometime before midday, as it happens.
I must admit, I was far more nervous than I expected and I was peeing every 20 minutes without fail. Finally, the time came and they wheeled me down to the operating theatre. The worst thing about this was that the journey must have come at around my 17 minute post-pee mark, because by the time we were in the preparation area, I was dying for the toilet again. But too late, they were already at work putting me to sleep. What if I started peeing during the op? Would that mean they’d fit the dreaded catheter? Oh no..and relax, drifting off now.
The first thing I remember when waking up was coughing quite a lot. I’d had a general anaesthetic before and it hadn’t knocked me about, but this one seemed to have really given me a bad throat. Once I’d stopped coughing, I tried to concentrate on my groin, and I couldn’t really feel anything. I could tell it was swollen, but that was about it. I asked the nurse if it had been a hernia (as they weren’t sure) and she said yes. Back to sleep for a bit, then wheeled back upstairs to my room.
I eventually started to come around proper, and had a quick feel of the meat and two veg. Badly swollen, but not painful and it felt like the op had been a success. More importantly, no pipes, so no catheter. Phew. Then I had a look at my belly and saw where they had made the incisions for the camera and tools. Two small cuts either side of my belly button and it looked like they had also gone in through my belly button too. I wasn’t expecting that, and it was a bit sore but nothing too bad. I am a bit iffy about belly buttons and feet, so didn’t want to spend too long gawping at it.
After a while, I felt the urge to pee and that’s when it struck me that this might be make or break time. No pee could mean a catheter, so I cautiously tried to go and after some initial effort, a little dribble came out. Over the next hour or so, that process would repeat. Peeing was a very stuttered process for the first day or two.
I rested and felt fine to be honest. No pain apart from when trying to get out of bed, but even that wasn’t too bad…it was just a soreness that made me aware that I’d been cut. It is a sharp twinge that makes you stop moving that way instantly. The closest thing I can compare it to is having a bad back, where if you move and it starts the back pain, you stop moving that way immediately. So it isn’t that bad at all really.
Later in the day, Mr Lloyd came around to discuss the operation and confirm that I could go home. He told me that I had a small hernia, but the cause of my pain had been a ligament tear, which he had also fixed. I was still a little bit groggy, so didn’t think to ask how they had fixed that, and to this day I don’t know whether the ligament was stitched or replaced with a synthetic one. I guess it was stitched.
The journey home was the worst part of the entire experience. My step-dad came to pick me up and the first few miles were fine, but then I started to get bad motion sickness. I would have had to ask him to pull over, but this was Leicester, remember, where there is a bleeding traffic light every five yards, so plenty of time to catch my breath. Closing my eyes and breathing deep was the answer.
When I got home, I walked around gingerly for a bit, making sure that the dogs didn’t jump up me, then went to bed. Lying down was fine, but it was painful to lie on my side as I usually do, so I didn’t sleep too well for the first few nights.
The day after the op, I struggled out of bed and, as suggested, spent some time on a spin bike with no resistance. It was fine, no pain from the exercise at all. I was still very swollen around my scrotum and the right abdominal area, so I think the swelling helped. I didn’t have much energy though, so didn’t last too long.
For the first week, the only things that were painful were – getting in and out of bed, trying to put shoes and socks on, and going to the toilet was a bit tender. I was constipated for the first few days, thanks to the pain killers and I decided not to fight it. I took some stool softeners for when the time came, and that probably helped (as did the fact I ate nothing but vegetables for 3 days). Oh, sitting down for longer than 20 mins at a time was uncomfortable due to the pressure on the belly-button wound and eating while sitting down was tricky for me too. I decided to just eat standing up until the cut had healed further.
Walking was difficult but not impossible during the first week, and as long as I took it slow, I was able to get around. I went on 40 minute dog walks every day, but didn’t hold the dogs (that was left to my other half, just in case they bolted after squirrels). The pain here wasn’t in the groin, but the abdominal area, and even that wasn’t too bad. If you’ve ever done a lot of situps and felt like you strained your abs – it is that kind of feeling.
The one thing I hadn’t expected, but which happened during week #1 was severe bruising of my scrotum on the side of the operation. It didn’t hurt, but it looked like a thunderstorm was going on in my knackerbag. I’d heard of this happening with men who had a vasectomy, so I wasn’t too worried, but called the hospital to check it was normal and they said yes.
The only other thing to note was the rather disgusting removal of the dressings. The side ones were nothing more than plasters, with tiny thin scars left behind. But the belly button one has a wad of dressing in it, which is bloody, and in my case, stank to high heaven. It was a salty, coppery smell that could best be described as ‘a washed up body’. I didn’t look at my belly button for a while, just cleaned it in the shower, but I can bear it now!
2 weeks after the op and things started to take a turn for the worse. The swelling went down and my testicle felt…well, wrong. In fact, it felt just like it had before the op – as if the tubes were blocked, like the testicle was facing the wrong way, and there was a lot of tenderness in the tubes, particularly at the bottom and top. While at work, this turned into a constant throbbing with a slight burning sensation that I could feel in my back too. To me, it felt like an infection, so I went back to see the doctor. He said I had an infection of the tubes and that it was quite common after hernia surgery or any groin injury and gave me some anti-biotics.
Since being on the pills, the pain has subsided completely and now it feels just like a little bit of mild nerve pain, which is what they told me to expect. That should go away after 3-6 months. Don’t be worrying about that – it really is nothing more than an ongoing mild ache. Unlike the infection – that feels like you’ve been stung on the ball by a wasp and then kicked by a horse.
I now exercise quite intensely (spin bike) with no groin problems, though I can tell it isn’t as strong as it was. I’ve not lifted weights yet, as it says 20 weeks. I do feel weaker, so I can understand that. I never realised how much you use your core muscles for pretty much any sort of lifting and stretching. Oh, that’s just reminded me of one sharp pain I had that did make me wince…I was stretching to clean a cobweb off a ceiling light fitting. Stretching upwards is not recommended during the first few weeks – it burns!
If you are about to have the Lloyds Release procedure, don’t worry about it. The operation really isn’t bad at all and, if my experience is anything to go by, the pain afterwards isn’t bad either. I’ve certainly had worse playing sports, etc. You’re not going to be very mobile for a bit and don’t buy into that ‘you can drive after 24 hours’ line – sitting down gave me ball-ache and it was about a week before I felt anywhere near comfortable enough to put decent pressure on the pedals.Just keep an eye out for infection after the op. If you get any sort of pulsating feeling, heat, or feel a bit sick, it is probably best to see the doc.
Concerned about the mesh? Don’t be. I can’t really tell I have anything in me. At times, when I am scrunched up or not sitting properly, I can kind of feel that there’s some sort of sheet there, but it isn’t painful or uncomfortable at all. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can. I hope this article has been of some help.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 2016.
Unfortunately, I’ve had some problems since I originally wrote this post. After 6 months, I was more or less back to normal. But something wasn’t quite right…the right side of my groin felt tight and the nagging ache in the various tubes and cords that connect to my testicle became more bothersome. particularly when driving. I’ve seen urologists and had ultrasound scans since, and they all say there is no sign of infection or anything sinister and they suspect possible nerve damage. One GP even thinks it may be a disc problem in my back causing referred pain. I’ve been back training in the gym and notice my abductor in my right thigh doesn’t seem to respond as well as it used to and it aches went put under strain. I’m starting to wonder if there was another injury that has gone undetected. Going back to see Mr Lloyd in a couple of weeks to see if he knows what it might be – drawn a blank with the NHS who keep doing ultrasounds, finding nothing, and then suggesting pain relief as my only option. But the pain isn’t that bad, it is just that mechanically, something feels off.
The following information comes from Yvonne White, who contacted me prior to having her operation. This is her perspective, in her own words:
I had the Lloyd Release Procedure in July 2016, as a result of a painful groin problem which continually re-occurred. My research revealed that this would appear to be a predominantly male problem, but as I have proven it can also happen to females and I thought sharing my experience may help anyone else in my situation.
Injury and Diagnosis
One day after a long run and some gym work, I knelt down to do some stretching and had a sudden sharp excruciating pain in my left groin which also extended down the inside of my leg. Once I managed to get up, I found that I was unable to walk without (what felt like) dragging my leg. I rested for a week and slowly the pain subsided and therefore I thought the problem had resolved itself. I went for a run and within a few metres the pain was back to the extent I had to stop and I was back to enforced rest. I was concerned at the immediate re-occurrence of the pain and decided to go to have some physiotherapy. A torn muscle was diagnosed with the suggested taking of Ibruprofen and rest for 10 days. This I did and the pain disappeared so I went for another run. Disaster, the pain was even worse and I went back for more physiotherapy.
After two more months the pain had not subsided and any form of exercise was out of the question. My physiotherapist suggested that my problem required more investigation and I returned to my Doctor who sent me for an ultrasound. This showed that I had a hernia and I was referred to a Consultant. I did not realise it at the time, but this referral was to be the big breakthrough for me. The Consultant agreed that I had a hernia but also thought I had a Sportsperson’s Groin Injury and suspected I may need a Lloyd Release. He recommended that I be referred to Professor Lloyd. Unfortunately, the NHS waiting time was extremely long and as I had been unable to exercise for such a long period of time and was worried that the injury could not be definitely diagnosed, I decided to pay for a consultation. Within a short space of time of seeing Professor Lloyd, he confirmed that I needed a Lloyd Release and suspected I needed a Lap Release and Abductor Release. My options were either to have an operation with full recovery and back to an active life or no operation and a sedate way of life. Being a very active and fit person, the operation was the only way forward and my operation date was set for 2 weeks.
Operation at the Spires Hospital, Leicester
My operation was planned for the afternoon. Professor Lloyd came to see me before the operation and explained that the Release Procedure would be done via keyhole surgery performed under a full general anaesthetic and it would take less than one hour to perform. I would have an additional cut in my lower groin due to two ligaments being released. The operation time went by very quickly and the whole experience was seamless.
When I woke up, I was not in any pain and stayed in hospital overnight. The only issue was that my stomach was extremely swollen and it was difficult passing water.
The next day I had breakfast and a shower, then Professor Lloyd came to see me to discuss the operation. I did ask for photographs of the operation and Professor Lloyd went through them with me – very interesting!! He told me that once all the ligaments had been freed the area was covered with a 12cm x 15cm synthetic mesh. The three tiny wounds by my belly button had been sutures and infiltrated with local anaesthetic. I also had a cut at the top of my leg. I must admit the bruising that followed was amazing and I looked like I had done five rounds with Mike Tyson!!
He confirmed the stretching and exercise regime to be followed as soon as I got home to, most importantly, prevent the ligaments joining and to aid my recovery. He also prescribed some antibiotics for 10 days and then I was discharged. I must admit I did walk very slowly to the car as my lower groin area was a bit tender, but certainly nothing to complain about.
TIP: Make sure you take your compression shorts with you to wear after the operation and certainly a MUST for the journey home. Also, if you haven’t got one, make sure you invest in a cycle turbo-trainer as you will need this the day after the operation, not to mention ice packs.
As Professor Lloyd had stressed how important the stretching and exercise regime was,once home, I was very gingerly helped onto my turbo trainer (zero resistance setting) and then did some floor stretching. The exercise time was very short and gentle but at least I felt I had started the recovery process. The next day, eager to return to normal, I set myself a rigorous programme as follows:
- 3 separate 3 minute sessions of stretching (each side) – followed by ice pack and rest
- 2 separate sessions of zero resistance turbo bike training – 40 minutes each time – followed by ice pack and rest
- 1 session of walking – 40 minutes – followed by ice pack and rest
- 3 separate 3 minute sessions of stretching (each side) – followed by ice pack and rest
- 2 separate sessions of walking – 40 minutes each time – followed by ice pack and rest
- 1 session of zero resistance turbo bike training – 40 minutes – followed by ice pack and rest
I then alternated these days to prevent the exercise regime becoming monotonous and increased the training time and resistance on the turbo trainer as I became more flexible.
By week 3, I was stretching, turbo training, swimming breast stroke, and speed walking.
By week 4, I was stretching, turbo training, swimming 40 lengths, and running 30 minutes
By week 5, I was stretching, turbo training, swimming, running, and coastal walking.
By week 6, I felt normal!!
I must admit I did push myself and some days I did feel a little sore and perhaps that I may have overdone things. However, I gave myself a day off (except for stretching), felt much better, and resumed my regime.
If you feel that you may have a re-occurring groin strain and it does not improve, despite any form of treatment, ask to be referred to Professor Lloyd. If you do need an operation then, go for it (it is the best thing I did) and both the operation and rehabilitation process is nothing to worry about – just make sure you do your stretching etc and it will get you back to your normal fitness levels before you know it. Swimming (breast stroke) is also a must as I could not believe how much more flexible I felt after each session. The left side of my pubic bone was still swollen for some considerable time but didn’t cause me any discomfort. Have a look at the rehabilitation notes on the Lloyd Release website http://lloydrelease.com/rehab/ which are very informative.
After three months, I do get a few twinges in my groin from time to time, but think this is the mesh just settling down. I just manage the discomfort and adjust my routine – it certainly has not given me any cause for concern. The discomfort does not impact on my enjoyment of life or exercise.
It is very important to buy a cycle turbo trainer which is invaluable and (if you don’t have them) some compression shorts as they do give you confidence – you do get used to sleeping in them. Don’t forget to take them to wear on the way home from hospital. Also, invest in some ice packs – you will need them, probably more than you think. I did try frozen peas but the pack split and I wouldn’t recommend getting down on your knees trying to pick them up!!