Pain and Smelly Discharge 3 Years After Several Surgeries

I have had 6 surgeries: C-section, Tubal ligation, Umbilical hernia repair, major abdominoplasty, and Liposuction, which were done 8 1/2 - 9 years ago; and Lapiscopic surgery which was done 3 years ago. Since the Lapiscopic surgery, I still experience pain and smelly discharge directly behind my navel. Is it possible that there may be something terribly wrong that the last surgeon may have missed or maybe caused? Please help!

Doctor Answers 12

Possibly stitch retained

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Pain and smelly discharge may be related to non-absorbable sutures that have worked their way into the site of the umbilicus entry site for the laproscope. I have seen this a few times in the past. I woulds suggest that you go see your surgeon to check this out. That person may want to get a CT to evaluate other potential sources of the problem. Good luck.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Go see your surgeon

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You should not have "smelly discharge" three years after surgery. The likelihood of of something "terribly wrong." is very low, since it has been three years and you are otherwise fine. However, there may be a low-grade injection or foreign body and retained suture at the base of your umbilicus which may be causing chronic irritation. You need to go see your surgeon and have a thorough examination to determine what is going on. Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD

Pain and "Smelly" Discharge means probable infection....See your surgeon

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You likely have an infection of one of the sutures used to close your tummy either during the tummy tuck or the more recent operation. This needs to be evaulated and that suture removed to fix the problem. See your surgeon ASAP.


Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD


John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Pungent Painful Problem in the Belly Button

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If discharge and pain from the belly button begins sometime after a surgical procedure involving an incision, you have a wound healing problem until proven otherwise. It is possible that there is a retained suture eroding through the skin which is contaminated with skin bacteria and other bugs that may live in the moist environment of your umbilicus. Until this foreign body is located and removed, the pain and drainage will continue.

You should return to your surgeon, either the plastic surgeon or the one who performed the most recent laparoscopy, to have them examine you and investigate the problem.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Umbilical discharge

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I can't believe that you are walking around with a malodorous discharge from your belly button for THREE years. This fact makes it likely that the problem is relatively contained and localized to your umbilical area, otherwise you would be very sick. The most likely cause is a non absorbable suture (stitch), left in from the hernia repair or LAPAROSCOPIC surgery or mesh material, which is sometimes placed to repair an umbilical hernia. See your hernia surgeon if he/she is still practicing. If not, try to obtain a copy of your operative record from the hospital or facility at which you had the hernia surgery and see another hernia surgeon or board certified plastic surgeon. Good luck!

See your surgeon

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Pain and a foul smelling discharge are not normal. There are multiple possible reasons for this, and your surgeon can help to make that diagnosis. It could be any number of things, but you'll need a proper evaluation and workup.

Edward S. Lee, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Go see your treating surgeon!

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Pain and a smelly discharge is abnormal, especially after three years following a laproscopic surgery. After an adequeate examination, the work up to determine the cause will require some form of imaging, such as an MRI scan. There are numerous potential causes ranging from very simple to medically complex. This is why you need to return to your treating surgeon.

Thanks for your question!

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Smelly Belly Button Drainage MUST be investigated

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Drainage 3 years after surgery is abnormal. Smelly drainage is more worrisome implying bacterial involvement.  You really should go back and see the last (laparoscopic) surgeon. The most likely cause would be exposed suture or permanent material used in hernia repair.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Foreign body is likely

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Given the number of surgeries, it is likely that there are some permanent material left behind which may be causing your signs and symptoms. If mesh was used in repair of the hernia, that may also be the culprit. Consult with your general or plastic surgeon to evaluate the problem. Good luck.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 88 reviews


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This could be a sign of wound healing problem, such as a chronic infection.  It is not normal for the drainage and odor.  You shoud have this evaluated and treated.

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.