Belly Button Surgery: Improving the Look and Shape

Thomas P. Sterry, MD

Every once in a while, a patient will come into my NYC office asking for cosmetic surgery of the belly button. (The media tries to make this out to be a fad, but I don’t really see it that way.) Plastic surgeons who perform a lot of tummy tuck procedures are all fairly well trained to handle these kinds of problems, so I thought patients should know that we may be able to help them out. I’m going to present a few belly button photos below to help the reader understand what can be done and why.

Sometimes these umbilical issues are truly reconstructive cases, occasionally the patient has an umbilical hernia and fixing that is essential to the cosmetic outcome. At other times the case is purely aesthetic in nature. For those patients, I can typically perform the procedure under local anesthetic in my office.

Belly Button “Removed” by Previous Surgery

This patient came in to see me because her belly button had been completely obliterated by emergency surgery about 18 months prior to meeting her. She also had some reconstructive work done, but was still left without an umbilicus. I did my best to create a brand new belly button where none was present before. (For details about scar revision, see this blog post.) Again, this woman was very happy with the result.

scar revision and new belly button creation

This patient had both a scar revision and the creation of a new belly button performed at the same time.

Umbilical Hernia

This patient is a male who had a large umbilical hernia for quite some time and finally decided to have it repaired. I assisted the general surgeon, and frankly prevented him from creating a very large incision above the belly button (as we were all trained to perform the operation that way). The other surgeon resisted but agreed with my plan to create our repair by limiting our incision to the umbilical rim. I then trimmed some of the excess skin and closed as best I could in an attempt to reconstruct the patient’s belly button. Again, the outcome is quite acceptable from a cosmetic standpoint.

Cosmetic belly button surgery and hernia repair

Cosmetic belly button and hernia repair.

Flattened Belly Button After Pregnancy

This is a woman who came in to see me stating that she “hated” her belly button ever since she had children because it had become so “flat” and “wide”. Frankly, I thought she was being a little excessive when I spoke to her, but after hearing what she wanted, I knew I could deliver a good result. Using local anesthetic in my office OR, I basically moved her tissues around and tried to create a more narrow and deeper umbilicus. She was very happy with her outcome – so much so that I again thought she was a little over the top with her exclamations.

Umbilicoplasty pictures

Umbilicoplasty is the name we give the procedure to improve the appearance of the belly button (umbilicus).

So, while many of my surgical colleagues tease me about my “obsession” with the umbilicus, I think it’s worth the trouble. After all, in many of my operations, the only scar that is visible to the outside world is that belly button incision. I have to make it look good!

If you are interested in improving the look of your midsection, including reshaping your belly button, we’re happy to discuss your options. Feel free to request a consultation using our online form or call us at (212) 249-4020 to schedule an appointment.

12 Responses to Belly Button Surgery: Improving the Look and Shape

  • J says:

    I had an umbilical hernia repair not so long ago which has left me with a 5-6cm horizontal scar about 1-2 cm above the umbilicus. I was wondering if it would be possible to move this scar into the umbilicus so that it is not so obvious!
    Thank you

    • So sorry to hear about that scar. Frankly, I was trained in general surgery before plastic surgery and I never understood why we needed to make the incisions we did…
      In any case, it may be difficult to move that scar without something like a tummy tuck – which might defeat the whole purpose because it would require quite a long scar below your pant line.
      If you want to send a photo to [email protected] I would be happy to have a look and confirm for you.

  • isha naramg says:

    I had to go through operation because of hernia..the stitch marks are right below my belly button..I want to get rid of this scar…please suggest me the right solution for looks very ugly

  • Miro says:

    Hello I had an emergency umbilical hernia surgery when younger and it has left me without any belly button and also left me with a scar similar to the first patient you posted but an horizontal scar instead of vertical. Are you able to fix it as you did his?

  • Veronica says:

    Hi I wanted to see if you could help me wit a bad scar in my stomach wen I had my gold bladder removed left me wit a bad scar

  • Shannon says:

    I had a bad tummy tuck done which left me with a big circle scar around my belly button. Also I’m left with a very high lower scar. Is there anything you can do to fix this?

    • That depends on a few things. How large is the circle scar around the umbilicus and how high is the lower tummy incision? Sometimes we can improve both of those problems, but sometimes the bell is already rung and we can’t do very much at all. Why don’t you send some photos to “[email protected]” and we can have a look.

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