What Is Umbilical Hernia Repair Surgery?
Umbilical hernia repair surgery is a
procedure that fixes umbilical hernias. An umbilical hernia
is a bulge or pouch that forms in the abdomen. This type of bulge occurs when a
section of the intestine pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles,
near the belly button. It can develop in young children and adults.
In rare cases, adults with umbilical
hernias can develop a serious condition called strangulation. Strangulation
occurs when the blood flow to certain parts of the body is suddenly cut off.
Symptoms of strangulation include nausea, vomiting, and severe pain. The area
around the umbilical hernia might look blue, as if you have a bruise.
Call your doctor right away if you
suspect you have strangulation.
Why Is Umbilical Hernia Repair Surgery Done?
Umbilical hernias don’t always require
surgical repair. Umbilical hernia repair surgery is needed when the hernia:
- causes pain
- is larger than half an inch
- is large enough to cause disfigurement
Umbilical hernias are fairly common
among infants. The umbilical cord passes through an opening in the baby’s
abdominal muscles during pregnancy. The opening usually closes right after
birth. If it doesn’t close all the way, a weak spot can develop in the baby’s
abdominal wall. This makes them more susceptible to an umbilical hernia.
When an umbilical hernia develops at
birth, it may push the belly button out. Umbilical hernias in newborns will
almost always heal without surgery. However, your doctor may recommend surgery if:
- the hernia hasn’t gone away by age 3
- the hernia is causing pain or
restricted blood flow
Umbilical hernias in adults may occur
as a result of:
- fluid in the abdominal cavity
- previous abdominal surgery
- chronic peritoneal dialysis
They’re most common among adults who
are overweight and women who were recently pregnant. Women who have had
multiple pregnancies are at even greater risk for umbilical hernias.
Umbilical hernias in adults are less
likely to go away on their own. They usually grow larger over time and often
require surgical repair.
What Are the Risks of Umbilical Hernia
The risks of umbilical hernia repair
surgery are low. However, complications might occur if you have other serious
medical conditions. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about your
increased risk due to illness.
Other risks that are rare may include:
- allergic reaction to anesthesia
- blood clots
- injury to the small intestine
How Do I Prepare for Umbilical Hernia Repair
Umbilical hernia repair surgery is
usually performed under general anesthesia. This means that you’ll be asleep
and won’t experience any pain. Some small hernias can be repaired with a spinal
block instead. You’ll be awake for this, but the doctor will give you a local
anesthetic to numb the area.
You’ll likely need to stop taking
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen
several days before the surgery. This will reduce your risk of heavy bleeding
during the procedure.
Fasting for at least six hours before
surgery is also a standard requirement.
What Happens During Umbilical Hernia Repair
Umbilical hernia repair surgery is
performed in two different ways: open
hernia repair and laparoscopic hernia repair. During a
conventional open hernia repair,
the surgeon makes an incision below your belly button to access the hernia.
hernia repair is a less invasive procedure. The
surgeon makes several smaller incisions around the hernia site. They’ll insert
a thin, flexible tube with a light on the end into one of the incisions. This
instrument is called a laparoscope. It allows the surgeon to see inside your
abdominal cavity on a video screen.
Regardless of the type of surgery, the
procedure is the same. The surgeon will gently push the bulging intestine and
abdominal lining back through the hole in the abdominal wall. Then they’ll sew
the hole closed. Sometimes they’ll insert a synthetic mesh material into the
abdomen to strengthen the area.
How Long Does It Take to Recover from
Umbilical Hernia Repair Surgery?
You’ll be taken to a recovery room to
wake up after the procedure. Hospital staff will monitor your vital signs,
including your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Most umbilical hernia
repair surgeries are done on an outpatient basis. This means you’ll likely be
able to go home the same day.
Your doctor will give you pain
medications and instructions to keep your stitches dry. They’ll schedule a
follow-up appointment within a couple weeks to assess your healing. Most people
can return to their full range of activities within two to four weeks after
surgery. It’s possible for another umbilical hernia to develop in the future,
but this is fairly rare.