Umbilical Herniorrhaphy Overview
An umbilical herniorrhaphy is a surgical procedure to repair an umbilical hernia, which develops when a bulge or sac containing fat or intestine pushes through a weakness in the abdominal wall, near the belly button. Without repair, the gap may become larger, possibly trapping other tissues in the opening. Early symptoms of an umbilical hernia include a bulging belly button and discomfort at the site, both of which worsen over time. Ultimately, the hernia may become stuck, known as incarceration or strangulation. If this happens, you cannot flatten the bulge and will likely suffer intense pain, possibly accompanied by nausea and vomiting. An incarcerated hernia is a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.
Because a hernia does not repair itself, reparative surgery is necessary. This consists of an incision near the gap in the muscle wall to repair the gap, typically using surgical mesh. Options include open surgery, requiring a larger incision, or laparoscopic surgery, which uses several small incisions.
- Preparation: In a non-emergency procedure, patients should discontinue all blood thinning medications and supplements two weeks prior to surgery. These include NSAIDs, aspirin, vitamin E, and herbal supplements such as Gingko biloba. Smokers should avoid smoking from two weeks before until two weeks and after the surgery, to aid healing. Closely follow any additional recommendations by Dr. Vallecillos.
- Anesthesia: Umbilical hernia repair typically occurs under local anesthesia, although sedation is an option. Discuss your anesthesia concerns with Dr. Vallecillos during your preoperative consultation.
- Preoperative Consultation: This is the time to ask your questions and share your concerns with Dr. Vallecillos. List the medications and supplements you take, share your medical history, and discuss your pre- and post-operative care instructions.
After administration of the anesthetic, Dr. Vallecillos makes the incision in or below the navel and places a surgical mesh over the hernia site, strengthening the weakened area. This mesh, positioned within the muscle, scars into your tissue, preventing recurrence. In laparoscopic surgery, Dr. Vallecillos inserts a thin, lighted tube called a laparoscope. The attached camera allows him to see inside your abdomen to make the repair.
Umbilical Herniorrhaphy FAQs
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Umbilical hernias affect both children and adults, but children rarely require surgery. The procedure is more common for adults, especially when the condition causes pain and its size exceeds 1/2 inch, possibly causing disfigurement. Instances of incarceration or strangulation always require surgery.
What is the recovery time for umbilical herniorrhaphy?
Recovery time varies according to the size and difficulty of the repair. Some pain follows the procedure, for which Dr. Vallecillos prescribes pain medication. Patients typically require three to five days off work, and two to three weeks before resuming heavy physical activity.
Are there risks or side effects associated with the procedure?
Surgery comes with risks that include pain, bleeding, infection, scarring, and numbness at the site. With this procedure, you may also experience swelling and bruising, as well as hematoma. Intestinal damage is rare, though possible.
How long do the results last?
Hernias may recur, but in healthy people, the risk is low.