Risks if Umbilical Hernia Not Fixed?

I have a small umbilical hernia and I'm wondering, are there any risks if I don't get it fixed? Also, if I choose not to do the repair, can I train my belly button to go in on its own?


Doctor Answers 8

Stages of a hernia and the risks: Why repair it?

You may want to try core strengthening exercises but sometimes any strain can make hernia worse.

There are three stages of a hernia:

  1. Reducible: contents slide in and out of hernia. Pain comes and goes.
  2. Incarcerated: contents get stuck in hernia and often cause constant ache
  3. Strangulated: contents are constricted and blood supply is compromised causing tissue death and possible bowel rupture.

Because hernias may progress from 1 to 2 to 3, we repair them at an early stage. However, some hernias may never progress.

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 79 reviews

Umbilical Hernia: To operate of not to operate?

How "small" is small?

A hernia becomes dangeous when it is big enough to allow ANY contents to become STUCK in it (ie become INCARCERATED) or worse yet, become stuck and twisted so that blood stops flowing to the organs/tissues in the hernia (ie STRANGULATED).

A large hernia is painful and tiring but things almost never get stuck in and can be pushed back in the belly (REDUCED). A REAL SMALL hernia is a small opening which does not allow things to pooch out. All the in between opening pose a danger at some point in the future.

Just like holes in your home's wall do not seal themselves. neither do hernias. They require a surgical repair. The technique used depends on YOUR particular anatomy and your surgeon's preference.

Good Luck

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis, TN

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 105 reviews

Umbilical hernia

There is no exercise that I know of that will train the belly button to go in on its on. Most general surgeons will tell you to have the umbilical hernia fixed to avoid tissue such as omentum and small bowel, which would require emergency surgery, getting stuck in the hernia. Most patients will require more then a local anesthetic to have an umbilical hernia fixed.

Sharon Theresa McLaughlin MD
Long Island City Plastic Surgeon

Do I need to have my hernia fixed with my tummy tuck?

In general there are few reasons not to treat both at the same time. There are no exercises to 'train' your belly button to 'go in' on its own.

Good luck!

Bryan Correa, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Umbilical hernia

Your problem is very common, especially in women who have given birth.  The umbilical hernia results from a small hole in the fascia - the tough fibrous tissue that makes up your abdominal wall - in the area of the belly button.  A small piece of the underlying fat that exists within the abdominal cavity, overlying the intestines, protrudes through this hole.  In most cases, this does not create anything more than the protrusion visible in your photograph; in a few, however, this protruding tissue can become stuck ("incarcerated") within the hole, and its blood supply strangulated and cut off.  This results in a great deal of pain, and requires emergent surgery to correct.  In order to prevent such an occurrence, elective repair of the hernia is generally recommended.  Unfortunately, there are no exercises or non-operative treatments that can rectify this structural problem.

Joshua D. Zuckerman, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Umbilical Hernias Should Be Repaired

Umbilical hernias result from defects in the lining of the abdominal wall.  When these defects are of sufficient size the intra-abdominal contents can pass through them.  In some cases the abdominal contents can get caught in this position and develops compromised blood supply.  This situation potentially represents a life threatening condition.  For this reason it’s generally recommended that umbilical hernias be repaired before this type of complication can occur.

Unfortunately, there are no exercises or non-surgical methods for correcting this problem.  Correction of umbilical hernias always requires surgical intervention.

If you have an umbilical hernia, consultation with a surgeon is appropriate.  This surgeon should be able to make an appropriate recommendation.

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

Umbilical hernia

Thank you for your question and photograph.  I am not aware of any non-surgical method to correct an umbilical hernia.  The main concern with any hernia is if the intestines get trapped in the hernia and cannot be reduced back into the abdomen.  I would check with your general surgeon to asses your risk of future problems.  Generally speaking, these types of hernias can be repaired very easily, sometimes under local anesthesia.  Good Luck!

Matthew H. Steele, MD
Sioux City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Minimal risk with untreated umbilical hernia

There is the remote chance that some tissue could get trapped in your hernia which coulc create a medical condition.  This is very unlikely.

Fixing an umbilical hernia is simple in most cases and can be done with local anesthesia.

If you train your umbilicus to turn in, let me know.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 34 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.