Umbilical

Definition

An umbilical hernia is a protusion directly at the belly-button or navel. A hernia around the belly-button is commonly know as a para-umbilical hernia.

Who commonly presents with it?

Umbilical herniae are commonly seen in newborn babies and young children. They are usually harmless and generally require no treatment and generally disappear as the child gets older.  Adults generally present with paraumbilical hernias and are more common in patients who are overweight and women especially after pregnancy.

How does it present?

Umbilical hernia in adults can present with pain and are made worse by heavy lifting, straining or coughing. They are often reducible but at times cannot be reduced but are not painful. In some cases the umbilicus can present with a very painful lump, which cannot be reduced. If there is a change in the overlying skin with redness or a purple discolouration, most likely there is 'unhappy' bowel or fat and surgical repair is undertaken as an emergency (incarcerated/ strangulated). This can happen with umbilical and paraumbilcal herniae as the actual defect is usually quite small.

What can be done?

An umbilical/ paraumbilical hernia in an adult if painful and irreducible is often offered repair. As they have a tendency to become bigger and more unsightly over time, surgery is recommended generally for all patients.
Surgery involves a small incision under or above the umbilicus (belly-button) with the majority of hernia requiring stitches only. In some case if the hernia is large a mesh is inserted to help reduce the risk of recurrence and strengthen the repair.
Surgery can be performed under a local or general anaesthesia and does not normally require overnight stay.
 
Your Surgeon will discuss all the options with you and together a decision will be made on which type of hernia repair will suit you best.

How long will your recovery take?

Recovery is very quick, with most patients being discharged the same day. Patients are encouraged to start mobilising immediately after surgery and refrain from lifting heavy objects for at least two weeks and heavy duty activity for a possible further month. A return to full regular activities is expected within 1 week.

What are the main risks of surgery?

Your surgeon will advise on any specific complications and risks. For all types of surgery there is always a risk of wound infection and a 1-2% risk of recurrence of the hernia.