An umbilical hernia is the outward bulging of a portion of the abdominal wall through the area surrounding the belly button. Umbilical hernias develop when the umbilical scar fails to heal at birth. Most umbilical hernias close in the first 12 to 18 months of life. Repair is rarely recommended until the child is 3 years old. In adults umbilical hernias are acquired and occur more commonly in females than men.

Typically umbilical hernias present as a small, soft, reducible bulge around the belly button. Pain is often not present without provocation but can be elicited with pressure and palpation. As time goes by these openings get larger and the risk of severe complications (incarceration, obstruction, strangulation) increase significantly. Also the overlying skin that is very thin can get damaged which increases the chances of postoperative infections.

An umbilical hernia will not heal by itself and does require surgery to be repaired. The right surgery for you will depend on the size of the hernia, whether this is the first time it is getting repaired, the condition of your tissues, and what your general health is like. Most patients will be able to go home the same day.

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