Options for Dead Belly Button

I had a Mommy Makeover on 4/19/12- BA under muscle, TT with MR and incisional and umbilical hernia repair. My PS works with a general surgeon who performed the hernia repairs. My belly button was initially black and crusty, but is now just hard and black. I saw the PS again yesterday and he said it is dead. I'm now scheduled to go back to surgery to have the dead removed and a new BB created. From what I have seen, these procedures don't create a very natural looking BB. Is this my only option?

Doctor Answers 9

Dead belly button

This is a fairly common occurrence and is best treated with conservative care. The deadline tissue may be derided and allowed to heal secondarily.  The result is often very acceptable.  It is  may be hard to wait it out but is usually the way to go. 

Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 65 reviews

This is rare, but revision is likely in the future.

Umbilical necrosis is a relatively rare complication of abdominoplasty surgery.This situation arises when the blood supply to the umbilical stalk is compromised.This causes the umbilicus to become discolored and gradually turn black.This is often accompanied by drainage from the wound.
Early surgical intervention is rarely indicated to treat this condition.In the vast majority of cases, dressing changes and antibiotics are indicated.In some cases, a secondary umbilicoplasty is indicated at a later date.
It’s important that you maintain close contact with your plastic surgeon until your wound has healed.At some point, secondary revisional surgery may be necessary.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Scarring around the umbilicus after a TT

Delayed healing of the umbilicus is not uncommon at all.  All that is required is dressing changes and keeping the area clean and it should heal fine. Because the umbilicus has to get its blood supply up through the stalk there are several points where this blood supply can become constricted.  Swelling will also contribute to the problems.  All you can do is wait it out, follow instructions and let it heal.  If it does not heal right a minor scar revision may be indicated.

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

Dead Belly Button

Please speak with your plastic surgeon about this.  I suspect that he/she will be able to create a new belly button for you.

Jonathan Ross Berman, M.D. , F.A.C.S.

Jonathan Berman, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

What To Do About A Belly Button That Has Died

All four previous responders in your Real Self team of experts have agreed 100%.  Although everyone feels your personal plastic surgeon should make the final decision, I too have to agree, less is more in this situation.  As long as there is no infection, I would leave the natural process of wound healing and scarring to take effect.  Use topical antibiotics, and I bet you will be happily surprised with the outcome. 


Options for dead belly button

Thank you for the question. No, this is not the only option. Probably waiting and leaving it is a better option. The belly button is a scar tissue and letting heal as a scar tissue is a good option. The results are usually good. Cleaning it daily with a Q tip and apply stile dressing is a good treatment regiment. 

Moneer Jaibaji, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Watching a dead bellybutton.


I'm sorry to hear that you're having any issues.  Losing blood supply to the belly button is certainly a possibility when a hernia is repaired at the same time.

As long as there is no sign of infection this is something that I might treat conservatively with a topical antibody cream.  Often, the surrounding tissue will grow underneath the dead tissue and the dead tissue will fall out on its own.  If there a sign of infection your surgeon would want to take the dead tissue away sooner.  This is something that you may be able to do under a local anesthesia.

You may wish to discuss these options with your plastic surgeon.  While this situation seems scary often the area heels in with a small scar that will look similar to a small natural bellybutton.


Good luck to you.

Adam Tattelbaum, MD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 104 reviews

Belly Button Dead; Treatment Options?

I'm sorry to hear about the complication you are experiencing.

Although your plastic surgeon is in the best position to advise you, in my practice I would probably treat this complication nonsurgically at this point.  Given that you are only one month out of your procedure,   a significant amount of inflammation/swelling remains and tissue laxity is not optimal.  You may want to ask your plastic surgeon about the option of waiting and/or exactly what procedures is planned.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Belly button necrosis

I have had that happen to me once in my career so what I am telling you is based on a single experience, not a study of a large number of patients.  My thought was that the belly button is basically a scar left over from the umbilical cord by which we were attached to our mothers.  Since it was already a scar, I just treated my single case conservatively - keeping it clean and putting antibiotic ointment on it.  It healed up like all wounds do and actually looked just fine.  I don't know what procedure your doctors are planning to do, but doing nothing at all worked for me.

Edwin C. Pound, III, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 24 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.