In the past decade hernia surgery has been challenged by two new technologies: by laparoscopy, which has attempted to change the traditional open operative techniques, and by prosthetic mesh, which has achieved much lower recurrence rates. The demand by health care providers for increasingly efficient and cost-effective surgery has resulted in modifications to pathways of care to encourage more widespread adoption of day case, outpatient surgery, and local anaesthesia. In addition, the UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended strategies for bilateral and recurrent hernias. Here, we discuss these strategies and review some neglected aspects of hernia management such as trusses, antibiotic cover, return to work and activity, and emergency surgery. Many of the principles of management apply equally to inguinal and incisional hernias. We recommend that the more difficult and complex of the procedures be referred to specialists.