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What Can I Do if my Belly Button "Dies" As a Result of TT with Umbilical Hernia Repair?

I am 9 days post-op from a TT, umbilical hernia repair, BA and thigh lipo. I was just told at my follow-up that it looks like my belly button may be dying due to a decrease in the blood supply. I was too stunned to ask questions, but now I have a million. Can anything be done to save the dying umbilicus? What will it look like if it "dies". Is there any kind of revision that can be done after it heals. It looks black and odd shaped now. What should I expect?

Doctor Answers 11

Dying belly button from tummy tuck

Sometimes the belly button can die as a result of diminished blood supply. Don't panic, your PS can reconstruct a new one for you. For now, just let this heal and you might be amazed at how good it looks. Another scenario could be the belly button is still viable but has slipped beneath the skin and you just can't see it. This would need a revision as well.

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Belly button reconstruction is possible

Hello, Sorry to hear about your tummy tuck healing issue. Although rare this can happen for a variety of reasons. At this stage there is not much that can be done other than wait to allow the body to declare what is alive and what is not. I would keep a close watch to make sure the belly button does not end up creating an infection. If your belly button indeed does not survive a new belly button can be created. Although it will not be as good as your original belly button the reconstructed belly button can be quite good if done well. Hang in there and take some comfort in the fact that a solution exists. All the best, Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 115 reviews

Hernia repair and tummy tuck

Umbilical hernia repair and tummy tuck performed at the same time ahs a higher incidence of umbilical loss due to loss of some of its blood supply.  Commonly when the umbilicus looks dusky or necrosis occurs, the are usually heals pretty well. If it does not a neo-umbilicus can often be created.  Good luck.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Dying belly button after a tummy tuck

Sorry to hear about your complication in regards to your tummy button. At 9 days, however, the future is difficult to predict. It is possible that you will have only a superficial loss and it will heal with minimal scar. The treatment ultimately needed will be predicated on the extent of your belly button loss. For a total loss, which is rare, there are reconstructive procedures that can be performed. It's most important that you be patient at this time. The of the worst things a surgeon can do is to operate too soon. Operating on an immature wound usually results in a compromised result. This is very important for ya favorable long term result. In the meantime, stay hydrated, eat healthfully, and listen to your plastic surgeon regarding dressing changes and wound care. Good luck.

Umbilical issues after abdominoplasty

Even if the umbilicus dies, there is a good possibility that the resultant scar will end up looking like a belly button anyway. If it turns out that the tissue dies and resultant scar is not an acceptable one, there are options for creating a neo-umbilicus. Just be patient with your surgeon and address the issues as they develop. You might need to complete some dressing changes for a period of time, but will likely be fine in the end. 

William T. Stoeckel, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Dying Belly Button after Tummy Tuck and Hernia Repair.

Sorry to hear about the issue with your belly button.   Your surgeon's description is one way to look at the situation.  The other perspective is that your belly button is struggling to live.  The combination of tummy tuck and belly button hernia repair does have an increased risk of the skin of your belly button dying do to poor blood supply.  What I always recommend is remaining well hydrated, (drink lots of fluids and usually recommend electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade), keep the area warm (no ice packs) and if your surgeon is in agreement, applying a cream called nitropaste which may help dilate the blood vessels and improve the blood flow through the skin.  This may help minimize how much skin dies or potentially prevent any from dying.     
If it does die, you have to remember what your belly button was first made of..... scar tissue.  If it does die, it will form new scar tissue and can usually be made to look natural again. 
Good Luck
Dr M

Loss of Umbilical Blood Supply after Tummy Tuck and Umbilical Hernia Repair?

I'm sorry to hear about the complication you are experiencing. At this point, however there is not much that can be done but allow time to see how much of the umbilicus survives and what the resulting appearance of the area is. Occasionally, the  loss of tissue is superficial and the resulting umbilical  appearance is quite acceptable. Sometimes, umbilical reconstruction may be necessary down the line. I would suggest that you continue to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

Best wishes.

Problem with umbilicus

Although there is a risk of injury to the unmusical bold supply during tummy tuck with hernia repair, at this point it is too early to determine how much injury. I would suggest you wait till the swelling, subsided and your plastic surgeon will be able to determine if anything needs to be done. In many occasion the umbilicus is dusky and looks like its necrotic after hernia repair,but eventually it recovers or most of it survive.

Moneer Jaibaji, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Umbilical reconstruction...

The umbilicus often has decreased blood supply when a hernia is fixed in conjunction with a tummy tuck. The good news is that even though it looks bad now, it will most likely improve. If you have complete loss, the umbilicus can be reconstructed. There is little to do to improve the situation now - it is "wait and see" time. Good Luck!

Brian Klink, MD
Vacaville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

Tummy Tuck

Most plastic surgeons use permanent sutures to tighten the abdominal wall, and some of those sutures are immediately adjacent to your new umbilicus. Umbilical stalk skin necrosis means that the barrier between these permanent sutures and the outside world may be breached, creating the possibility of internal suture infection. Antibacterial ointment will not only reduce the likelihood of an infection, but will also promote the healing of the umbilical stalk if some of the stalk is still viable (i.e. it has enough blood flow to survive).

The blood flow to the umbilical stalk and the blood flow to the abdominoplasty skin flap are completely different. So umbilical stalk necrosis does not mean you are at high risk for abdominoplasty skin flap necrosis. If the skin of your lower abdomen just above your suprapubic abdominoplasty scar is pink and you are ten to fourteen days postop, then there is no need to worry about skin flap necrosis.

The best course of action is local wound care as mentioned above and frequent visits to your plastic surgeon. Regarding the long–term appearance of your new umbilicus: the sutures through the skin adjacent to your bellybutton will create permanent suture marks if they are not removed soon. Ask your surgeon if that can be done in order to avoid a pattern of dot-like scars around your new umbilicus which will make it look like a surgical bellybutton, not a natural belly button. It is possible to place umbilical skin sutures so that they pass through the dermis only (and not the epidermis) on the abdominoplasty skin flap side of the umbilical closure.

You may ultimately require some form of revisional surgery once the bellybutton wound has healed, but in most cases a definitive secondary procedure cannot be done for at least 6 months or so. So you will need to be patient, take good care of the wound, and see your doctor frequently as this issue evolves.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.