Most umbilical hernias in babies close on their own by age 1 or 2. 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)
- Are large and don't decrease in size over the first two years
- Don't disappear by age 4
- 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.
April 24, 2015
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- Kelly KB, et al. Pediatric abdominal wall defects. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2013;93:1255.
- Brooks DC. Overview of abdominal wall hernias. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Palazzi DL, et al. Care of the umbilicus and management of umbilical disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Earle DB, et al. Repair of umbilical and epigastric hernias. Surgical Clinics of North America. 2013;93:1057.
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- Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 12, 2015.
- Hassan AMA, et al. Outcome of sublay mesh repair in non-complicated umbilical hernia with liver cirrhosis and ascites. International Journal of Surgery. 2014;12:181.
- Cameron JL, et al. In: Current Surgical Therapy. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 15, 2015.