Most umbilical hernias in babies close on their own by 18 months. Your doctor may even be able to push the bulge back into the abdomen during a physical exam. Don't try this on your own, however. Although some people claim a hernia can be fixed by taping a coin down over the bulge, this "fix" doesn't help and germs may accumulate under the tape, causing infection.
For children, surgery is typically reserved for umbilical hernias that:
- Are painful
- Are bigger than 1.5 centimeters in diameter (slightly larger than a 1/2 inch)
- Don't decrease in size after six to 12 months
- Don't disappear by age 3
- Become trapped or block the intestines
For adults, surgery is typically recommended to avoid possible complications — especially if the umbilical hernia gets bigger or becomes painful.
During surgery, a small incision is made at the base of the bellybutton. The herniated tissue is returned to the abdominal cavity, and the opening in the abdominal wall is stitched closed. In adults, surgeons often use mesh to help strengthen the abdominal wall. Recurrences are unlikely.
May. 09, 2012
- Hernias of the abdominal wall. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal_disorders/acute_abdomen_and_surgical_gastroenterology/hernias_of_the_abdominal_wall.html#v890814. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Brandt ML. Pediatric hernias. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:27.
- Brooks DC. Overview of abdominal wall hernias. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Palazzi DL, et al. Care of the umbilicus and management of umbilical disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Salameh JR. Primary and unusual abdominal wall hernias. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2008;88:45.
- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 24, 2012.