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Scottish Hernia Centre

Glasgow’s Premier Private Health Centre

Ross Hall Hospital

221 Crookston Road

Glasgow G12 0PJ

Phone: (0141) 810-3151

Email: info@scottishhernia.com

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Scottish Hernia Centre

Glasgow’s Premier Private Hernia Centre

Ross Hall Hospital  Call 0141 810-3151

www.scottishhernia.com

Umbilical Hernia: Scottish Hernia Centre

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umbilical herniaAn umbilical hernia is a small hole in the abdominal wall at the umbilicus (belly button).

An umbilical hernia occurs when part of the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles. It appears as a soft swelling in the area of the umbilicus (belly button).


This type of hernia can occur in infants and adults. It is often most visible when the child cries or strains, as the pressure pushes the abdominal contents or fluid through the hole causing it to bulge. .


Occasionally, the protruding abdominal tissue becomes trapped (incarcerated) and can no longer be pushed back into the abdominal cavity. This reduces the blood supply to the section of trapped intestine and can lead to tissue death. Emergency surgery may be required. You may also need emergency surgery if you develop signs and symptoms of bowel obstruction. These include abdominal cramps, bloating and vomiting.

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Who is likely to get an umbilical hernia?

Umbilical hernia may occur in children and adults. They often develop in pregnant women or women who had had children in the past. Increasing weight however is the most common reason for the development of an umbilical hernia.

Rarer causes include fluid in the abdomen (ascities). Treatment for adults typically is surgery, especially if the hernia enlarges and causes pain. Hernias rarely go away without treatment.

What are the symptoms of an umbilical hernia?

Most umbilical hernias have no symptoms. The development of pain in an umbilical hernia is a cause for concern as it suggest the the hernia has become incarcerated or trapped. This can progress and may require emergency surgery.


Mostly, people are concerned about the appearance. For children, it is usually the parents and grandparents who are concerned.

The hernia may get tight when coughing or lifting objects. Incarceration (abdominal contents getting stuck in the hernia) can occur and will very rapidly lead to severe pain. An emergency operation is usually necessary in these circumstances.

How are umbilical hernias treated?

Small umbilical hernias can be observed, especially in children as many will close by the age of 5 years. In adults, umbilical hernias will not close and may get bigger. This is especially so if increasing weight is the cause and a persons weight continues to rise. In adults, consideration should be given to closing these hernias if they are causing pain or discomfort or they are increasing in size.

Surgery is usually performed as a day case under general anaesthetic. A synthetic mesh is used to reinforce the repair in most patients as this reduced the risk of the hernia coming back. Most operations are performed as an open mesh repair. However, larger and recurrent umbilical hernias are often best treated with a laparoscopic or keyhole repair.

What are the surgery options for an umbilical  hernia?

Umbilical  hernia surgery is usually performed as a day case, without the need for an overnight stay in hospital. General anaesthesia is usually used although local anaesthetic can be used for small open hernias.


Surgery is generally performed through a small 2-5 cm incision just below the umbilicus. The procedure involves freeing up the hernia from the umbilicus and returning the contents of the hernia (usually fatty tissue) back to the abdomen.

The weakness within the abdomen is then repaired. This repair is usually reinforced with by a mesh made of a synthetic material that does not irritate the body.


Laparoscopic surgery, also known as "keyhole" or "minimally invasive" surgery, may also be used.

Are there non-surgical options to treat an umbilical hernia?

In adults, the hernia is very unlikely to go away on its own. It may stay unchanged and give rise to similar symptoms that you are currently getting. If left alone, you run the risk that it may get bigger and cause increasing discomfort.

There is a small chance that the contents of the hernia could become strangulated. This would require emergency and somewhat more complex surgery with a longer stay in hospital if it occurred.

What can I expect after umbilical hernia surgery?

If the operation is a day case, most people go home once they have recovered from the anaesthetic. Anyone who has a general anaesthetic will need to arrange for a friend or relative to drive them home and stay with them for the next 24 hours.

A general anaesthetic can temporarily affect co-ordination and reasoning skills, so people are advised to avoid driving, drinking alcohol or signing legal documents for 24 hours. Before discharge, you will be advised about caring for stitches and bathing. An appointment for clinic review will also be made (usually around six weeks later).


Once home, painkillers may be taken as advised by the doctor or nurses.

Whether recovering from open or laparoscopic surgery, it will be necessary to take it easy for the first two or three days. You will be given specific advice about resuming normal activities. In general you should be able to move around freely but should avoid strenuous exercise and lifting for at least the first few weeks. Most people continue to experience some discomfort for a few weeks after surgery, but this will gradually settle.


In experienced hands, the long-term success rate for surgery is high with a less than 5% risk of the hernia coming back again.

What are the side-effects or complications of surgery?

Side-effects of surgery:

Side-effects are the unwanted but usually temporary effects of a successful procedure. Examples include feeling sick as a result of the general anaesthetic or painkillers.


Complications of umbilical hernia surgery:

Complications are unexpected problems that can occur during or after the operation. However, most people undergo umbilical hernia without difficulty. As with any surgery, there is a very small risk of developing an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic. Other rarely encountered problems include excessive bleeding, infection or developing a blood clot within the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis). To help prevent this, most people are given compression stockings to wear during the operation.

They may also be given a drug to thin the blood and reduce the risk of clots.


Specific complications of an umbilical hernia repair are uncommon but can include accidental damage to internal organs, which could require a larger incision to repair. There is also a risk of abdominal bruising, although this usually settles without treatment.


The chance of complications depends on the exact type of operation you are having and other factors such as your general health. There is a small risk of infection in the mesh which can be difficult to eradicate if it occurs. The umbilicus may not have a similar appearance after surgery compared to the appearance before the operation.

Can I undergo umbilical hernia surgery at the Scottish Hernia Centre?

Yes. Richard Molloy undertakes  both open and laparoscopic umbilical  hernia surgery at the Scottish Hernia Centre, based at Ross Hall hospital Glasgow.



BMI Ross Hall Glasgow is Scotland’s premier private hospital, where highly trained nursing and medical staff work within a state of the art hospital enabling our surgeons to safely treat even the most complex hernia.

What can I do to avoid an umbilical hernia?

In most instances, there is no specific reason why an individual develops an umbilical hernia. For some, pregnancy and advancing age or increasing weight may be a factor. Lifestyle measures may help to prevent an umbilical hernia from developing.


Perhaps the most important of these is to use lifting equipment for heavy loads, and using safe lifting and carrying techniques, to avoid excessive or repeated straining.

Other measures that may help include the following:


  • Maintaining muscle strength by taking regular daily exercise
  • Avoiding constipation by eating a healthy high-fibre diet that contains plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grain cereals, such as wholemeal bread and brown rice
  • Stop smoking
  • Losing weight if overweight