We often see umbilical hernias in patients who come to see us for tummy tuck consultations. Umbilical hernias usually look like a bulge or a bump underneath or near your belly button. In many cases, they’re uncomplicated and we can treat them at the same time as we perform a tummy tuck. Here’s what you should know about tummy tucks and hernias.
What is an umbilical hernia?
An umbilical hernia is a small bump or lump near the belly button that’s common in babies but can also form in adulthood. An umbilical hernia is caused by a gap in the abdominal muscles, where the intestines or fatty tissue protrude from the abdomen. When we’re born, the umbilical cord passes through the umbilical ring (a tiny opening in the abdominal muscles). In childhood, this little abdominal gap usually closes by the time a kid is ready for kindergarten, but in some cases there’s a small space that’s left or doesn’t close completely.
How are umbilical hernias formed in adults?
You might have formed an umbilical hernia after pregnancy, weight changes, excess stomach fluid, other health issues, or an unusual strain on your abdomen from activities like lifting heavy objects or prolonged coughing. Pressure from these sources can cause the internal organs or uterus to push forward, exerting extra force on the abdomen. This can cause small defects in the fascia that result in a hernia poking through the abdominal muscles.
Umbilical hernias can be as simple as a painless bump, but they can grow as abdominal muscles become weaker or repeated straining occurs. Some people might notice swelling or discomfort because of a hernia that’s grown over time. In less common cases, the hernia can cause serious complications if the intestine is pushed forward through the abdominal opening and cut off from circulation. Many hernias we see in our clinic are more mild and aren’t causing major discomfort or concern.
Are umbilical hernias common?
Yes, we see umbilical hernias frequently in our tummy tuck consultations with surgical patients. These hernias are often a natural result of pregnancy or weight gain. Umbilical hernias are especially common among women who have delivered twins or given birth multiple times.
Can I get a tummy tuck if I have a hernia?
Yes. If you’re looking to get a tummy tuck and also have an umbilical hernia, we have good news. In many cases, we can actually treat umbilical hernias at the same time as we perform a tummy tuck surgery. As long as the hernia isn’t complicated or especially big, our surgeons can repair your hernia as part of the tummy tuck procedure in a single surgical session.
For some patients, we’ll discover that the hernia is more complex during the imaging and examination we do before your actual surgery. If this is the case, we might have to involve the aid of a general surgeon. We’re grateful to work out of North York General Hospital where we have access to several highly skilled general surgeons who are well-equipped for both abdominoplasty and hernia repair. So even if you’re dealing with a more complex umbilical hernia, we can help.
Ready to schedule your tummy tuck consultation? Give us a call to start a conversation today.