Can my Belly Button Be Saved? (photo)

I've 22 m/o twins. My belly grew to 50" and I am 5'10" & gained 40lbs, slowly. I've no stretch marks, I look 7 mo. preg. I have a 5" diastasis my insurance has approved to repair & a repeat & new hernia. My surgeon who'll work with my Plastic Srg. told me that belly button may not be saved. I've had arthroscopic surgery thru it & my umbilical H repair. Never much of an innie. Skin's thin now. Will I look like an alien or can it be saved? I'm 160lb- 45" tummy now. -broken stitch in pic is lump.

Doctor Answers 10

Belly button

For some reason, there is inflammation of the skin in and around your belly button.  This may have caused your surgeon to tell you he or she may not be able to salvage it.  However, I think that risk is quite small.  You may have been told that by your surgeon just in case there is a problem with it.  Good luck!

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Can My Belly Button Be Saved? (photo)

Although uncertain whether or not your belly button can be saved, your major problem, the weak, bulging abdominal wall, must be the focus of your concern.  If you lose the umbilicus (belly button), a new one can be reconstructed.  Nobody can predict the future with certainty, so your surgeon is informing you appropriately of potential complications.   To have two highly qualified surgeons such as a board certified general surgeon and a board certified plastic surgeon managing your difficulty, especially in view of their reduced fee for service reimbursement by your third party payer, is quite a privelege.

Steve Laverson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Saving the Belly Button at the Time of Hernia Repair

If your general surgeon needs to put a mesh  on the inside of your abdominal wall (in the peritoneum) at the time of hernia repair and  tummy tuck, there is a very high liklihood your belly button will not have enough blood supply to be kept. A mesh that is placed on top of the muscle lining (called fascia) is less likely to interfere with blood supply.  If you are in good health and not planning on future pregnancies, the forces that crearted the hernia are not likely to recur so the approach outside of the peritoneum should be safe.  Discuss this with your general surgeon as well as plastic surgeon.

Mary Lee Peters, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 114 reviews

Preserving belly button during tummy tuck

The photos showed a significantly scarred belly button with previous hernia repair underneath. In all likelihood the blood supply to your existing belly button has be compromised. Given your condition, I would still go ahead with repair of your diastasis and recurrent hernia knowing that your belly button may not be saved. You can still rebuild it later once everything is healed. Most of the time the loss of belly button may be partial and can still heal over time with satisfactory outcome. It's critical that you talk to your plastic surgeon first to discuss your expectation and possible options.

Best Wishes,

Stewart Wang, MD FACS, Wang Plastic Surgery

Stewart Wang, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Yes, full belly button rejuvenation is possible


Thank you for the photos and question.  The most powerful way to rejuvenate a belly button is through a tummy tuck.  During this process the belly button is repaired and brought out through new skin.  Doing so allows the belly button shape, position, and appearance to be improved. A less expensive but not as thorough a rejuvenation of the belly button can be achieved through an umbilicoplasty.

All the best,

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Can my Belly Button Be Saved?

When a standard TT is done, the navel is left attached by its stalk to the abdominal wall. It retains its blood supply from vessels right underneath. When an umbilical hernia is repaired, that blood supply is compromised and can lead to loss of the navel skin. Sometimes we accept that risk, but with a recurrence and a navel that is already so scarred it might be a better plan to not save it. You would probably get a better looking navel from an umbilicoplasty 6 months down the line. It can usually be done under local anesthesia in the office. 

Thanks you for your question, and for the useful photos. Best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Belly button can be reconstructed after loss

Thank you for your question. You need to proceed with your abdominal wall reconstruction and follow the advice of your surgeon. If the belly button is lost, and it may well be, the belly button can be reconstructed later.

Can my Belly Button Be Saved

You do have a lot of inflammation around the umbilicus.  Give it some time to settle down and I would think it will be okay. 

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Can My Belly Button Be Saved During My Recurrent Hernia Repair And FTT?

I believe you should have a good chance of saving your belly button (umbilicus) at the time of FTT and recurrent hernia repair.  Board Certified general surgeons, just like Board Certified plastic surgeons, give very complete informed consent to include the potential danger of the loss of the umbilicus.  I have done more than ten repairs of this nature working with multiple general surgeons, and we have never lost the blood supply to the umbilicus.

The umbilicus is how your mother fed you when you were inside of her, and the umbilical cord of which the umbilicus is a remnant went directly to your liver.  There are one artery and two veins from the liver to the base of the umbilicus, and well placed mesh should not interfere with this blood supply. 


Belly button rejuvenation is a key component of tummy tucks I perform

It appears that your belly button is very typical of a mother who has given birth to twins. I have had many good experiences with doing tummy tucks on mothers who have had twins.  I typically save the belly button with the stalk and it remains connected to the rest of your body during this process.  I close any remaining belly button hernias if there are any present.  Then, I tether the stalk of the belly button down so as to create a tethering effect around the surrounding skin.  Also, localized limited liposuction can be done to create an "inny" appearance to the belly button.  The goal here is to return your body to the way it might have looked before your pregnancy and to have it appear natural so that nobody can tell that you had a tummy tuck by giving you a natural looking belly button.  



Richard H. Lee, MD
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
5.0 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.