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Purpose. Absorbable meshes used in inguinal hernia repair are believed to result in less chronic pain than permanent meshes, but concerns remain whether absorbable meshes result in an increased risk of recurrence. The aim of this study was to present an overview of the advantages and limitations of fully absorbable meshes for the repair of inguinal hernias, focusing mainly on postoperative pain and recurrence. Methods. This systematic review with meta-analyses is based on searches in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, and Psychinfo. Included study designs were case series, cohort studies, randomized controlled trials (RCTs), and non-RCTs. Studies had to include adult patients undergoing an inguinal hernia repair with a fully absorbable mesh. Results. The meta-analyses showed no difference in recurrence rates (median 18 months follow-up) and chronic pain rates (1 year follow-up) between absorbable- and permanent meshes. Crude chronic pain rates for the RCTs were 2.1% for the absorbable meshes and 7.6% for the permanent meshes. For the absorbable meshes, medial hernias were more susceptible for recurrence compared with lateral hernias (P < .0005). None of the studies reported allergic reactions or other serious adverse events related to the absorbable mesh. Conclusions. Patients with an absorbable mesh seem to have less chronic pain following inguinal hernia surgery compared with permanent meshes, without increased risk of recurrence.