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.

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Procedure Walk-Through

  1. 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 after the surgery, to aid healing. Closely follow any additional recommendations by Dr. Vallecillos.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Umbilical Herniorrhaphy

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of umbilical herniorrhaphy?

Umbilical herniorrhaphy, a surgical procedure to repair umbilical hernias, offers numerous benefits including relief from discomfort and pain, prevention of serious complications like incarceration or strangulation, and improved physical appearance by resolving the navel bulge. This surgery enables individuals to engage more freely in physical activities without discomfort, significantly reduces the risk of hernia recurrence—especially when mesh is used—and often leads to minimal scarring with a short recovery period, allowing a swift return to daily activities. While the procedure is generally safe, it’s important to weigh the potential risks and consult with a healthcare provider to make an informed decision based on individual health conditions and the specific characteristics of the hernia.

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.

Am I a good candidate for Umbilical herniorrhaphy

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.

Other risks include contour deformities, and rippled skin, although this, again is extremely rare.