A hernia occurs when an organ protrudes through the skin. An umbilical hernia occurs when an abdominal organ protrudes through the skin surrounding the belly button. An umbilical hernia generally looks like a soft rounded protrusion around the belly button. Most umbilical hernias are painless. In children, umbilical hernias often disappear on their own.
Remarkable Care for Kids
- Focused expertise: Rush University Children's Hospital has experienced pediatric surgeons focused exclusively on performing procedures adapted for younger patients.
Umbilical hernia: what you should know
- Umbilical hernias are common in infants. They occur when the muscle around the umbilical cord does not fully close after birth.
- Most umbilical hernias in children will close on their own before the child turns 5 or 6.
- In children, an umbilical hernia is likely to go away on its own but may need surgical repair if it does not close before the child is 5 or 6 years old.
- In adults, umbilical hernias most often occur after pregnancy and in people who are overweight.
- Doctors often recommend surgical repair for umbilical hernias in adults.
How can I get help for an umbilical hernia?
In infants, umbilical hernias usually disappear on their own.
But whether you or your child has an umbilical hernia, you should call a doctor in the following cases:
- The hernia is painful or swollen.
- The hernia does not get smaller when you are lying on your back.
- You cannot push the hernia back in while you are lying on your back.
- Your child’s hernia has not closed after five or six years.
- The hernia is discolored, which may be a sign that no blood is circulating in the area. This is a serious problem that requires immediate surgery.
Care for umbilical hernia at Rush
Surgeons at Rush have expertise in repairing umbilical hernias in both children and adults. Whenever possible, they use laparoscopic techniques that involve smaller incisions, which can lead to less pain and shorter recovery time.
During surgery, the surgeon will push the hernia back into the abdomen and use stitches to close the hole it leaves behind.