Umbilical Hernia Surgery

An umbilical hernia is a result of weakness in the muscles in or around your belly button. It causes the belly button to pop outwards and can happen at any age. Umbilical hernias are most common in women during and after pregnancy, and in people who are overweight.

An umbilical hernia is not dangerous in itself, but there is a risk that it will get trapped (incarcerated). This can cut off the blood supply to the contents of the hernia, causing life-threatening conditions such as gangrene or peritonitis (if this happens, the hernia is said to be strangulated). If it's not treated, your hernia is likely to get larger and become more uncomfortable. In most cases, a hernia repair operation is recommended.

The aim of a hernia repair operation is to push the contents of the bulge back into the abdomen and strengthen the abdominal wall. There are two main types of hernia repair operations - open and keyhole. In most cases, the operation is an open repair, which involves a small cut just below your belly button. Sometimes, if the hernia is a recurrence, keyhole surgery is recommended.

This procedure consists of two or three small cuts (1 to 2cm long) made in your lower abdomen. Your surgeon will insert a tube-like telescopic camera to view the hernia by looking at pictures it sends to a monitor. The hernia is repaired using specially designed surgical instruments passed through the other cuts. A synthetic mesh may be used to strengthen the wall of the abdomen. The skin cuts are closed with stitches.

The operation takes 30 to 45 minutes depending on the method used.

You will feel some discomfort in the abdomen area for a week or two. Don't strain or stretch the healing wound as this will increase swelling and slow your recovery. You are advised not to do any lifting or strenuous exercise for at least the first two weeks. Light exercise, like walking is recommended. Don't have a shower or bath for the first two days. When you do bathe, the dressing may come off. This is normal and it does not need to be replaced.

Dissolvable stitches will disappear on their own in seven to 10 days.

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