Umbilical Hernia Repair

Facts About Umbilical Hernia Repair

Umbilical hernias are relatively common. Their repair is a simple surgical procedure-usually same day or an overnight stay, performed in order to correct a weakness in the abdominal wall (more than likely present since birth) or to close an opening that has occurred near the umbilicus (navel/belly button) allowing contents of the abdomen to protrude and stick out from the naval.


Though not always necessary, repair to an umbilical hernia is often needed to either relieve an ongoing discomfort or to discourage any foreseen complications. If a person is not in pain, and complications are not anticipated physician and patient may opt not to have the hernia repaired.

Complications from an umbilical hernia may develop when daily activity causes pressure to be placed on the affected area and consequently pushing the contents of the abdomen either through or further through the torn opening. When this happens these contents may become twisted-again signaling with pain. If strangulation occurs the circulation of a section of intestine or other part of the abdomen that has pushed through may become cut off be either constriction or compression with severe pain as the result.


In infants, these congenital (present at birth) occurrences are more prevalent in the males. As far as race is concerned, African Americans are more than eight times as likely to be affected by an umbilical hernia as other races and the condition has a tendency to run in the family. When a hernia is present at birth it pushes the belly button out as the crying baby puts pressure on the abdomen.

In infants the condition is rarely treated with surgery as the hernia shrinks, closing on its own, usually before the time a child is 4 years old. For children umbilical hernia repair is needed only if the hernia is stuck and/or it involves the blood supply to the affected area or if it does not show signs of closing on its own.

In adults umbilical hernias do not generally heal on there own, but progressively become larger until they must eventually must be dealt with. They are most common in persons overweight who have weak abdominal muscles and in women who are pregnant (especially with big babies or carrying twins, etc.

Also, people are at risk of developing hernias that have liver disease or abdominal cavity fluid. In addition to navel deformity and the customary bulge of an umbilical hernia, signs and symptoms typically include pain at or near the affected area. As the bulge pushes out at or around the navel, it creates the ‘outie’ bellybutton. If a strangulation of the hernia develops and goes untreated the tissue affected can die from the lack of blood supply with infection generally following.

The surgical procedure in most instances for an umbilical or a nearby paraumbilical hernia (developing around the navel) is a simple one conducted under general anesthetic, while smaller hernias can be repaired under a local anesthetic with the patient awake and able to walk out on his own once everything is all over. In the case of a large hernia a mesh is used to complete the tension free repair acting as a bridge for new tissue to form, support the abdominal wall muscle and close the gap of the defect. As this heals the mesh is incorporated into the muscle layer as if it were always a part of it and nothing but the tuck in the outer layer of skin had to be cut.

Many patients opt for a plastic surgery closure technique which will leave the outside of the skin looking normal once all incision evidence has disappeared. There is rarely a time when the actual navel has to be removed or drastically altered.