Recently Saw a Doctor Concerning a Tummy Tuck. He Told Me That He Feels That I Can Not Keep my Belly Button?

I recently saw a doctor concerning a tummy tuck. He told me that, because I had a repaired hernia prior, he feels that I can not keep my belly button.He said the belly button could die and become dangerous, a risk not worth taking. Is this common and why? It might be silly but it was hard to hear.

Doctor Answers 13

Sometimes the belly button has to go when doing a tummy tuck

Thanks for your question. When patients have had previous hernia repairs, the belly button may have been detached from its blood supply from the abdominal wall. Plastic surgeons rely on the blood supply from the abdominal wall when doing a "full" tummy tuck. There is a risk of the belly button dying after a standard tummy tuck in these patients. Your surgeon is being cautious and what you are being advised is not unusual at all. Another option, though, is to do the procedure as you normally would, see if the belly button survives and, if it doesn't, remove it at a later time (usually a week or two later). This way there is chance your belly button could survive - however it does mean you are potentially having two surgeries. Talk with your PS more about this, or get a second opinion, if you have concerns. I hope this helps.

Sydney Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Hernia - Keeping the Belly Button

Umbilical (belly button) hernias are extremely common.  They are often small and easily and safely repaired at the time of a tummy tuck.  Larger hernias, recurrent hernias, and hernias previously repaired with mesh, could all be factors to complicate the issue.  Even in these situations judicious dissection of the hernia from the umbilicus will usually allow preservation of it.  I like to approach this situation with the goal of keeping the umbilicus, and determine at the time of surgery whether the blood supply after the hernia repair warrants preserving the umbilicus.  I can't remember the last time, if ever, I wasn't able to preserve the umbilicus.

Douglas J. Mackenzie, MD
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Tummy Tuck After Hernia Repair

Seek another opinion. Even in the "worst case scenario" (in which your belly button doesn't have a good blood supply, and dies), it could be removed at that time, if it does indeed die. No need to throw it away just in case that could happen. As long as you are okay with the risk of having to do an additional surgery, should be fine to approach it that way.

Good luck!

Matthew Concannon, MD
Columbia Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Keeping your belly button during an abdominoplasty.

Plastic surgeons have to warn you about potential side effects of surgery.  Previous umbilical hernia surgery can put your belly button at increased risk, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to sacrifice your umbilicus.  If your doctor is concerned about the viability of your belly button due to possible compromised blood supply, he or she can enhance the blood supply by performing a "delay procedure."  This involves making a circumferential incision around the belly button 2 or 3 weeks prior to the planned abdominoplasty.  This incision forces the blood supply to flow through the umbilical stalk making it more resilient during the abdominoplasty.  A delay procedure is  well recognized by all plastic surgeons, though not commonly used.  I have utilized this a number of times prior to an abdominoplasty when I questioned the blood supply to the umbilical stalk.  And, it has proven successful in all cases.  I suggest you ask your doctor about this technique which will help assure the viability of your belly button.

Gilbert Lee, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Recently Saw a Doctor Concerning a Tummy Tuck. He Told Me That He Feels That I Can Not Keep my Belly Button?

Yes, there is always a risk when we do a tummy tuck.  There will be a necrosis basically that of the belly button, but that is not a very common complication.  This is a very rare complication, so if the doctor does not feel like he can keep the belly button, I think it is a good idea to consult with another surgeon.

S. Ozan Sozer, MD
El Paso Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

Umbilical survival after a hernia repair - keeping the umbilicus

The previous hernia repair could compromise the blood supply to the umbilicus but this may not be readily apparent at the time of surgery.  Worst case scenario the umbilicus dies and leaves a scar.  The umbilicus is nothing but a scar.  

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

Recently Saw a Doctor Concerning a Tummy Tuck. He Told Me That He Feels That I Can Not Keep my Belly Button?

I have never had to sacrifice a belly button in a tummy tuck except in an extremely overweight patient. I would seek a second opinion.

Kurtis Martin, MD
Cincinnati Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 74 reviews

Tummy tuck and umbilical hernia repair

Thanks for your inquiry and great question.  If you are having a tummy tuck and a simultaneous umbilical hernia repair, I agree in many case the belly button could and woud die.  If the hernia repair was done in the past, the belly button could still be threatened depending on how the general surgeon did the procedure.   If possible have your plastic surgeon review th operative notes of the general surgeon.  The plastic surgeon you saw is accurate there is more risk for the belly button dying or struggling with a blood supply after surgery than if no hernia repair was performed.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 201 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Belly Buton

Loss of the belly button after any tummy tuck is a potential risk but should be very rare especially if proper surgical techniques are used. Without a photo or exam it is difficult to be more specific in your instance. Even with having a prior hernia repair it should be possible to do a safe and predictable tummy tuck on someone like yourself provided you are healthy and don't smoke. Find a board certified plastic surgeon in your area with an expertise in body contouring who has a lot of experience for another opinion. Good luck!

M. Dean Vistnes, MD
Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Tummy tuck after hernia repair

I have done many hernia repairs with tummy tucks as well as many tummy tucks on patients who have had a hernias repaired without ever losing a belly button. It would be very unlikely for you to be unable to have a tummy tuck and preserve your belly button unless the entire stalk had been severed, and that is not done with a typical hernia repair. I think you'll benefit from getting another consultation with a board certified, experienced plastic surgeon.

Gregory J. Stagnone, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 40 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.