Umbilical hernia repair
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This treatment is to remove umbilical hernias.
What is an umbilical hernia?
There is a natural weakness in your abdominal wall where your navel (belly button) is, so weak spots or tears can develop here.
This can lead to the contents of the abdomen pushing through, producing a lump called a hernia.
What types of umbilical hernia are there?
There are two types of umbilical hernia. Your consultant will be able to confirm what type of hernia you have.
Located directly on the belly button, umbilical hernias are common in newborn babies or younger children. As your child grows, this hernia usually closes on its own. See your GP for advice on treating your child’s hernia.
This is a hernia around the belly button, which is usually found in adults. They're most common in those who are overweight or in women following childbirth, as their abdominal walls are weaker.
Paraumbilical hernias may appear as a lump with no pain or discomfort, but in many cases they can be very painful. Hernias in adults don't close on their own, so call us today to arrange a consultation about umbilical hernia repair surgery.
What are the benefits of umbilical hernia repair?
You should no longer have a hernia, which will prevent serious complications.
How long do the benefits last?
There's a small chance that the hernia can come back, even many years later, so you may need another operation if so. This all depends on:
- the size of the hernia
- the strength of your abdominal muscles
- whether you're overweight or have underlying medical problems
- the method your surgeon used to repair the hernia.
Is umbilical hernia repair right for me?
If you have a painful lump on or around your navel, it could be an umbilical hernia so it's best to get it checked and treated as soon as possible.
Left untreated, an umbilical hernia may trap your intestines, or cut off the blood supply to other areas within your abdomen (a strangulated hernia). This would require an urgent, larger operation with a higher risk of serious complications. An untreated strangulated hernia can be life threatening.
However, if you have an umbilical hernia while pregnant, it's usually better to wait until after your pregnancy before having the operation. A consultant will be able to advise the best course of action.
What happens during umbilical hernia repair?
Umbilical hernia repair takes around 30 minutes. It's usually performed under general anaesthetic, but various anaesthetic techniques can be used. You anaesthetist will discuss the options with you.
Before the procedure
There are a few things you can do in the lead up to the procedure to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible:
- Let your doctor know about any medication you take and follow their instructions
- If you smoke, stop smoking several weeks before the operation
- Try to maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly – but don't do anything that involves heavy lifting or makes your hernia painful
- In the week before the operation, don't shave or wax the area where a cut is likely to be made
- Try to have a bath or shower either the day before or on the day of the operation
- If you are diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control around the time of your procedure.
During the procedure
- Once you're under anaesthetic, your surgeon will make a cut near your navel
- They'll then free up the 'hernial sac', place the contents back inside your abdomen and remove the hernial sac
- Finally, they'll close the weak spot with strong stitches or a synthetic mesh, and then close your skin.
After the procedure
You'll be taken to the recovery room where you'll wake up if you had general anaesthetic. A nurse will be there to look after you. You may have a tube in your wound to drain away fluid that can sometimes collect.
Recovery from umbilical hernia repair
Most people make a good recovery and return to normal activities after around 3 weeks. You'll have some small scars that will heal after 4–6 weeks.
Once you're back in your room, the healthcare team will check on you to make sure you're recovering well. You'll either be given injections of local anaesthetic or medication to control the pain, which is important so that you can move about and cough freely.
Our team of specialist physiotherapists will provide expert treatment, rehabilitation and advice during your hospital stay and, if appropriate, follow-up as an outpatient to support your full recovery.
You should be able to go home the same day. If so, for the first 24 hours:
- you’ll need someone to take you home and stay with you overnight
- don’t drive, operate machinery, or do any potentially dangerous activities (like cooking) until you’ve fully recovered feeling, movement and co-ordination
- you shouldn’t sign legal documents or drink alcohol.
Managing your recovery at home
You should get plenty of rest for the first 24 hours, but then it’s important to stay active to avoid blood clots. Make sure you follow the instructions from our healthcare team on medication or special compression stockings.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you recover well:
- Gradually increase how much you walk over the first few days
- Regular exercise should help you return to normal activities
- Wait until about 2 days after your procedure before you shower, removing any dressings beforehand – it's okay to let the little pieces of tape (steri-strips) get wet and these will start to peel off around a week afterwards
- Don't bathe or use pools or hot tubs for two weeks after surgery.
Driving after umbilical hernia repair
Don't drive until you can control your vehicle and always check your insurance policy and with the healthcare team.
Time off work after umbilical hernia repair
You should be able to return to work after 2–4 weeks, depending on how much surgery you had and your type of work. Don't do any manual work for a while, and don't do any heavy lifting for a least 6 weeks.
Complications of umbilical hernia repair
As with any operation, there can sometimes be complications, such as:
- bleeding during or after the operation
- blood clot in your leg (deep-vein thrombosis or DVT)
- blood clot in your lung (pulmonary embolus)
- infection of the surgical site.
Specific complications of umbilical hernia repair include:
- developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) under your wound, which should settle within a few weeks
- injury to your bowel
- infection of the mesh
- removing your belly button, leaving a scar instead.
The healthcare team will do their best to minimise any risks. Make sure you discuss any concerns you have about these complications with your consultant.
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