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Belly Button Surgery

Belly button procedures are formally dubbed “umbilicoplasty,” a broadly used term to describe any altering of your belly button

The umbilicus, or belly button, is the scar that is left after cutting the umbilical cord that connects a person to his or her mother while in the womb. The shape of the belly button is mostly based on genetic factors – namely, the way in which the skin is attached to the muscle beneath – but also depends on how the doctor cuts the umbilical cord.

While the shape of a person’s belly button is determined at birth, it can change over time as a result of pregnancy, weight changes and other factors.

Belly button surgery can range from making an “outie” stand out less to creating a “T” or horizontally shaped navel. It is often performed as part of a combination procedure, usually with a tummy tuck or other abdominal surgery, such as a breast reconstruction involving the use of tummy tissue. But this is by no means always the case. Some people simply wish to change the appearance of their belly button. Few request the procedure to fix stretching and damage caused by a piercing. Others have no belly button at all: if it was surgically removed for medical reasons or isn’t present due to an abdominal condition at birth, a new belly button can be created. People whose belly buttons are misshapen as a result of having gained and then lost a significant amount of weight represent another group that is often interested in umbilicoplasty. Drastic weight loss can stretch the skin in the area around the belly button, changing its shape into a long, horizontal fold.

An “outie” can easily be converted to an “innie.” Or, if the belly button has widened, it can be narrowed and brought in to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance The tummy tuck procedure itself actually addresses the belly button and revises the overall appearance. It also commonly addresses any belly button hernias that may be present, which are actually quite common. Umbilicoplasty can also be performed in combination with liposuction to improve the shape and overall appearance of the lower body.

How Belly Button Surgery Is Performed

Umbilicoplasty takes about an hour and is typically performed under local anesthesia. Sedation is also an option. The surgeon makes a small incision in the area around the belly button and, depending on your desired results, either excises extra skin or hangs a small amount of abdominal skin over the top of the belly button.

If your belly button is distorted as a result of an umbilical hernia, this will be addressed during your umbilicoplasty procedure.

The incisions heal quickly and are usually hidden. The surgeon will choose whether to use dissolvable or non-dissolvable stitches, based on your unique situation.

While ensuring that the “dimpling” associated with an aesthetically pleasing belly button appears, the surgeon must also take into account the belly button’s size, shape, position, and potential scarring.

Who Is a Candidate?

If you are unsatisfied with the size and shape of your belly button or are unhappy with changes to its appearance as a result of pregnancy, weight gain or an umbilical hernia, you would likely benefit from umbilicoplasty.

However, your medical and surgical history does come into play, says Dr. Lin. For example, if you have a significant hernia in the belly button area, a shaping procedure is unlikely to improve the appearance of your belly button – in fact, it might make it worse.

To determine whether or not umbilicoplasty is a good option for you, you will need to meet with a plastic surgeon for an evaluation.

After the Surgery

Because belly button surgery is quite straightforward and relatively painless, you will be able to go home almost immediately following the procedure. In many cases dissolvable stitches are used, so there is no need to remove them. If non-dissolvable sutures are used, they will be removed 7 to 10 days after.

Because there is so little bruising, swelling, or discomfort associated with umbilicoplasty, most people are able to return to work and everyday activities the same day or the day after surgery. Healing begins immediately and is usually quick. Any scarring should fade within a few months.

Potential Risks

Umbilicoplasty is considered to be a very safe procedure. That being said, the most common risks include the following:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor scar formation
  • Asymmetries

It is, however, very important for you to describe exactly how you see your navel looking after the operation with a surgeon who regularly performs belly button surgery.

How long the results will last is difficult to predict, and depends upon you not losing or gaining too much weight. If you get too fat, for example, your navel could disappear altogether!

Your surgeon will discuss how long they expect the results to last with you, based on their own experience and the experience of their colleagues.