Tummy tuck - What is the best way to "pack" or keep the navel open?

What is the best method to keeping my naval open and when should l start packing it?

Doctor Answers 10

"Packing" the belly button to keep it open after Tummy Tuck

This is a very good question as the belly button does tend to constrict and tighten with time. A tip that I have used is to keep it open with an ear plug. The type of ear plugs that you use to muffle sound when you are sleeping are ideal. 

I do advise some of my patients to gently insert an ear plug at night and make sure they do remove it in the morning. I also encourage them to massage the umbilicus to stretch the scar and keep it from tightening up.

London Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 147 reviews

Keeping the navel open after a tummy tuck

A navel needs too be kept open for 2 reasons: A non healing wound or a scar that is contracting.
  1. Non healing wound: Use a Q-tip dipped in hydrogen peroxide to clean the wound twice a day. Then wrap a small marble coated with antibiotic ointment in the belly button. This is to prevent the belly button from closing up as it heals.
  2. A scar that is contracting: Get your doctor to inject steroid into the scar to prevent the contracting process. Then apply the marble trick
As an aside, I don't like the round belly button scar. It is more prone to contract. Check out the web reference below for some talk on belly button scar design. I like the "inverted u" design because it looks better and is much less prone to contracting.

Ricardo L. Rodriguez, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Treatment of the Umbilicus after Abdominoplasty

Thanks for your question. Some surgeons ask patients to pack the navel with objects like a marble to help the shape of the scar.  In that case, the wound is closed and healed before the marble is used. If there is any open wound, however, packing is used to help the wound heal in well. Generally speaking, in this latter case, the key is keeping the wound clean and moist. Moist wounds heal roughly twice as quickly as dry wounds. The old adage that wounds need air, it turns out, is wrong in most all cases.
Dr. Pyle

Jeremy Pyle, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Navel stays open if properly done during surgery

The surgeon keeps the navel open by properly doing the naval repair.   Cut well , sew well, do well is how it gos.   Packing etc etc is rarely if ever needed unless there is an infection or some other unplanned issue.  My Best,  Dr C

George Commons, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Ways to keep the bellybutton open

If your bellybutton is developing some thickening and scarring and contracting injecting it with steroid can soften the scar.  Occasionally I have recommended patients use earplugs which you can buy at the pharmacy to help keep it open. Be sure you check with your surgeon about these options. I would be careful about wearing that ear plugs continuously because they can put excess pressure on the skin.

Terrence Murphy, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Packing the Belly Button

During a tummy tuck the belly button is treated so that it remains alive. Toward the end of the procedure the belly button in positioned in the abdominal skin. It should remain alive and not have the tendency tos shrink. If it is shrinking or has shrunk then the circulation was poor therefore if the belly button is healthy then it does not need packing. Dr.ES

How to pack an open navel

The best way to pack an open navel is to use Xeroform gauze beginning immediately after surgery. 

William J. Welsh, MD
Nebo Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Best way to keep Belly button open after Tummy Tuck?

If your belly button has healed well and is starting to close due to scarring I would recommend injections of kenalog by your PSa dnthen placement of s silicone belly button ball to mould you belly button post-operatively. Good Luck!!

Jonathan Weiler, MD
Baton Rouge Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

The marble trick after tummy tuck

Once healing is complete some do experience a contraction of the BB scar (though there are ways to prevent this during the procedure) and a narrowing of the BB opening. An effective method to keep the BB open is placement of a marble taped into place to apply pressure and mold the scar keeping the BB open. If you have the issue as your surgeon when you can try.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews


Hi MzJuicy.  I have never needed to pack the navel in order to keep it open after a tummy tuck.  I suggest you follow your surgeons's instructions.

Lewis Ladocsi, MD, FACS
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 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.