Umbilical Hernia

An umbilical hernia is a weakness that develops in the abdominal wall through and around the belly button, called the umbilicus. A bulge or sac containing fat or intestine pushes out through that weakness, sometimes causing an “outie” belly button.

Umbilical Hernia, Hernia Repair, Hernia SurgeryMost patients with an umbilical hernia first notice a belly button bulge or discomfort. Over time the umbilical hernia can get larger and more uncomfortable as the sac gets pushed out from inside the abdomen. In an adult this problem will not go away or get better with time without treatment and may be caused by too much pressure on a weak section of the stomach muscles due one or any of the following reasons: being overweight, pregnancy, fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites), chronic cough, chronic constipation, and problems urinating because of an oversized prostate gland. An umbilical hernia can be diagnosed by your doctor or other healthcare provider by listening to your history and performing a good physical examination and they can advise you on the need for hernia surgery.


Repairing an Umbilical Hernia

To repair an umbilical hernia an experienced surgeon will make an incision near the site, and the bulging tissue will be gently pushed back into the abdomen. Sutures or mesh are used to close the muscle around the hernia repair.

For a suture-only hernia repair:

The sac is removed, then the tissue along the muscle edge is sewn together. The umbilicus is then fixed back to the muscle. This hernia surgery procedure is often used for small defects.

For an open mesh hernia repair:

The sac is removed then mesh is placed beneath the site. The mesh is attached using sutures sewn into the stronger tissue surrounding the site. The mesh extends 3 to 4 cm beyond the edges of the hernia repair and the umbilicus is fixed back to the muscle. Mesh is often used for large hernia repairs and reduces the risk that the problem will come back again. For all open repairs, the skin site is closed using sutures, staples, or surgical glue.

For a larger or more complex hernia surgery the surgeon will make several small punctures or incisions in the abdomen. Ports or trocars (hollow tubes) are inserted into the openings. Surgical tools and a lighted camera are placed into the ports. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide gas to make it easier for the surgeon to see the umbilical hernia. Mesh may be sutured or fixed with staples to the muscle around the site. The port openings are closed with sutures, surgical clips, or glue.

An open hernia repair is usually performed with sedation, to make you relaxed and sleepy, and local anesthesia, to numb the area of the hernia surgery. Most umbilical hernia repairs can be performed as an outpatient at an ambulatory surgery facility. When the umbilical hernia is repaired with an appropriate patch by an experienced surgeon, and with proper post-surgical follow-up and monitoring, you will be able to walk after the surgery and usually need about three weeks after surgery before restarting heavy physical activity.


Patient Testimonials:

… Although I am 64 years old, I had never had major surgery or general anesthesia. You certainly assuaged most of my concerns during my first visit when you explained everything in detail… I appreciate your kindness and your pleasant and concerned staff. If I ever have to have surgery again I would prefer to have you as my surgeon…
Joseph F.