There is a natural weakness in the abdominal (stomach) wall behind the navel (tummy button) caused by the way babies develop in the womb. If the contents of the abdomen push through, this produces a lump called a hernia (see figure 1). An umbilical hernia appears directly at the navel. A paraumbilical hernia in the area around the navel. Your surgeon will be able to tell you what type of hernia you have.
A hernia can be dangerous because the intestines, (bowel) or other structures within the abdomen can get trapped and have their blood supply cut off (strangulated hernia).
Umbilical hernias in children
Umbilical hernias are often seen in newborn babies or younger children. In many cases these hernias close on their own as the child grows. Your GP will be able to advise you regarding treatment for your child’s umbilical hernia.
Umbilical hernias in adults
Adults usually present with paraumbilical hernias. These are common in women following childbirth or in overweight patients. Sometimes paraumbilical hernias appear as a lump with no pain or discomfort associated. However hernias can be very painful. Adult hernias do not close on their own and will require surgery.
What happens during hernia repair surgery?
Hernia repair can be done under local or general anaesthesia. Your surgeon will make a cut around your navel and remove the hernial sac. They will close the weak spot with strong stitches or a synthetic mesh. The procedure usually takes about thirty minutes. Most patients go home the day of surgery.
Going home after hernia repair surgery
Recovery from hernia repair is usually very quick. You will be mobile very soon after the procedure and will be encouraged to increase how much you walk around over the first few days post surgery. Many patients return to normal day to day activities within the first week.
You should not do any heavy lifting or strenuous activity for one month. Please discuss your return to work with your surgeon prior to discharge from the hospital. Occasionally the hernia may come back.
What complications can happen?
Every surgical procedure has a risk of complications. Be sure and discuss any concerns you might have about these risks with your surgeon.
General complications of any operation:
- Infection in a surgical wound
- Blood clots
- Unsightly scarring
Specific complications of hernia repair surgery:
- Developing a lump under the wound
- Injury to structures within the abdomen
- Removing the tummy button
Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon?
Feel free to call us about hernia repair on 0845 603 4346 or simply fill in a form to your right and we can call you back.