Umbilical Hernia


Umbilical hernias are a common problem. They manifest as a bulging in the belly button area. In some cases they are fairly minor and can go unnoticed. In others they are more severe and can cause the entire belly button to stick out. They are caused by a weakness in the abdominal wall where the umbilical cord used to pass through. This allows tissue from inside of the abdomen (usually just fat) to protrude outwards. The tissue can often be pushed back in (reduced) but in some cases the hernia cannot be manually put back (it is “incarcerated”). This rarely causes problems but can occasionally be painful. It is extremely rare for tissue in an umbilical hernia to require urgent surgical treatment.

Causes of an Umbilical Hernia

Some umbilical hernias are congenital (patients are born with them) but most occur later in life. Surgery done through the belly button (laparoscopic surgery) causes some but the majority are the result of pregnancy. Normally the tissue of the abdominal wall stretches to allow room for the enlarged uterus during pregnancy. This can exacerbate the underlying weakness of the umbilicus and result in a hernia.

Umbilical Hernia Procedure

Most umbilical hernias that are fixed are repaired by general surgeons. In some cases they are repaired by plastic surgeons at the time of a tummy tuck. Dr. Swail always prefers to repair umbilical hernias himself at the time of tummy tuck in patients who have them. The results will generally be better especially if the hernia is severe and the belly button is distorted. The opportunity to get a good correction of the belly button is often lost if previous surgery has damaged the blood supply.

In some cases health insurance will pay for the correction of the umbilical hernia and this can defray some of the cost of surgery but the tummy tuck itself will not be covered.

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