What is an umbilical hernia? An umbilical hernia occurs when parts of your intestines or fatty tissue pushes through a weak spot in the abdominal wall - in this case, near the navel - and gets trapped between your skin and abdominal wall, creating a painful bulge. Some patients are predisposed to umbilical hernias, such as newborns and infants, but they can affect adults as well.
Why get surgical treatment for an umbilical hernia? An umbilical hernia will not self-correct or disappear on its own. If left untreated, it can result in life-threatening complications. For example, constriction of the ‘trapped’ (incarcerated) portion of your intestines may cut blood flow to the affected region, which may lead to necrosis. You will most likely develop painful symptoms and discomfort in the area, especially when bending over, coughing, or lifting heavy objects.
All surgeries, whether they be big or small, carry risks. For an umbilical hernia repair these typically include:
Risks of Surgery
You may need to take antibiotics before surgery. Routine blood work is usually not needed but may be ordered prior to surgery based on the patient's age and the presence of any existing medical problems.
Before your surgery, a nurse or doctor will plan the site, clean the affected area, and consult with you for any questions you may have. General anesthesia will then be administered under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and your surgeon.
The procedure itself may take one to two hours to perform, depending on the complexity of the condition. Typically, your doctor will give you a heads up on how long the procedure should last.
There are numerous ways to surgically treat and repair an umbilical hernia. At Clinique Michel Gagner, we perform the repair laparoscopically. That means you will be put under general anesthesia, your abdomen will be inflated, surgical instruments will be inserted through small incisions, and the surgery will be performed through the use of a laparoscope - a small camera that live streams to a television, which the surgeon uses to spatially map your abdomen and gives them a close-up view of your hernia.
The surgeon will use their instruments to carefully repair the hernia using a synthetic mesh. The intestines are pulled back through the abdominal wall and put properly in place in the abdomen.
Recovery time for an umbilical hernia repair will vary, but you should feel back to normal within a few weeks. Residual pain may last up to a week after surgery. Be sure to keep the incision area clean and dry to avoid the possibility of infection. Itchiness or soreness is common, however let your doctor know if you experience swelling or excessive pain.
You will need to arrange for a ride home the day of your surgery and we recommend someone stay with you for the first 24 hours at home. When you leave the facility after surgery, we will want you to go home and rest. Avoid making any other plans on the day of your surgery. Starting the following day, you can increase your activity as you feel up to it.
You will likely be given a prescription for pain medication following your surgery. The recovery nurse will discuss a pain control plan following surgery specific to you and your needs including activities like ice applied over incisions and a medication regimen. Oftentimes we will recommend taking Tylenol and Advil (same as Motrin, Ibuprofen) or Aleve in addition to the narcotic pain medication.
Did you know we have a support group?
Your questions and concerns have most likely been asked and answered in our support group. Moderated by our dietitian's, nurses, and staff. We provide you with reliable patient education and resources to help you throughout this life-changing process.