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Yes, Cosmetic Belly Button Surgery is a “Thing”

I bet you didn’t even know that cometic belly surgery was a “thing”. But it is, and it is very popular. Cosmetic belly button surgery, or umbilicoplasty, can improve the appearance of your belly button and the overall appearance of your torso or abdomen.  If you are unhappy with the appearance of your belly button, there is a relatively simple procedure that can help. Your eyes are naturally drawn to the belly button, so you will be surprised how an improved belly button can help the overall appearance of your entire abdomen.

There are many reasons why you may wish to change your belly button.  Perhaps you have never liked the way your belly button looked, or maybe it has changed over time.  Umbilcoplasty may help achieve any of the following desired outcomes:

  • Changing an “outie” into an “innie”
  • Reducing extra skin and/or wrinkles surrounding the navel
  • Reconstructing the belly button (after an injury or surgery)
  • Getting rid of or reducing the appearance of piercing or surgical scars
  • Making the overall size of the navel smaller
  • Improving navel appearance after an umbilical hernia repair
  • Improving the overall appearance of the torso

Why do I have an “outie”?

One of the most common reasons that people come for cosmetic belly button surgery is to turn their “outie” into and “innie”.  “Outie” belly buttons are common. Despite the common belief that “outies” are the result of the way the doctor ties the umbilical cord, “outies” are the result of small umbilical hernias. An umbilical hernia is a small hole in the abdominal wall where the umbilical cord goes through. These holes generally close on their own, but if they do not, a small ball of fat or intestine can push through the opening and give you an “outie”. This can be very large, or very small. Small hernias often close up over time, with 80% closing by the age of 2 years.

Some people have an “innie”, but it pops out during pregnancy. This is because there is a tiny hernia that enlarges when the baby is growing and the abdominal pressure rises. This stretches the small pea-sized opening into a larger opening, and the belly button becomes an “outie”. Sometimes the body repairs itself after pregnancy and the belly button goes back to normal but not always. Additional pregnancies will make the opening bigger and less likely to close in its own.

Fixing an “outie”

There are three key parts of belly button surgery to fix and “outie”.

  1. Repair the hernia
  2. Remove the loose skin
  3. Tack the skin down to make an “Innie”

First, an incision is made and the hernia will be repaired. This means that sutures are placed in the opening to close the hole. Generally, these holes are small and easy fixed with a few stitches. Larger holes may require a piece of mesh to patch it. After the hernia is repaired, the belly button can be made into an “innie”. However, there is extra skin from when the belly button was pooching out. This extra skin needs to be removed and then tacked down internally to re-create the “innie” belly button. This is done with several carefully placed internal stitches.

Removing Old Piercing holes

The second most common reason people ask for cosmetic belly button surgery is to remove old belly button piercings. I call this the “Brittney Spears Effect”.  Many women got belly button piercings years ago and are simply “over it”.  Also, the piercings can stretch out with weight changes and pregnancies, making the piercing hole appear to be much higher than originally intended. It is a simple procedure to remove these piercing holes. The result is a small scar but this tends to be minimally visible.

Removing the little “Hood”

Many people also want a belly button surgery to remove a hood of skin that is hanging over the belly button. This can make the belly button appear “closed”. Removing that hang of skin will make the belly button look rounder and more open. It is a common way to rejuvenate a belly button that some people describe as “sad looking”.  Since this just involves removing some skin, and not doing any deeper repairs, the recovery is very rapid.

How do I know if I need a Belly Button Surgery or a Tummy Tuck?

It is important to know if a belly button surgery is really what you need. If your issue is purely with your belly button, then cosmetic belly button surgery may be right for you. This would include complaints of things like an “outie, “a piercing hole, or a small hood of skin over the belly button. However, if your complaints are the belly button AND the skin around the belly button, then you may require a tummy tuck. If you have a lot of stretchmarks around the belly button, or a lot of loose skin around the belly button, then your issue is with the abdomen and NOT with the belly button specifically. In this case, you would require a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck will address the loose skin of the abdomen AND it also includes belly button surgery. So, belly button surgery is part of a tummy tuck, BUT a tummy tuck is NOT part of a belly button surgery. Your board-certified plastic surgeon will be able to tell you which procedure is best for you.

The Process of Umbilicoplasty (Belly Button Surgery) in New York City

Umbilicoplasty, or cosmetic belly button surgery, in New York City is a minor cosmetic procedure. All of these types of procedures will inevitably be different as each individual patient will have varying desires. In most belly button surgeries, however, a small incision will be made discreetly within the belly button. This will allow access to fix whatever needs to be fixed. This may include removal of extra skin, removal of extra fat, removal of piercing scar, or repair of a hernia. This can usually all be done under local anesthesia.

Recovering from Umbilicoplasty

Recovery from umbilicoplasty shouldn’t take long, and it’s not common to experience a lot of pain or discomfort unless you had additional procedures performed at the same time. Most patients recover almost completely in the 24-hour period following their umbilicoplasty surgery. For others, it may take up to one to two weeks to fully feel like yourself again. 

Have questions about the procedure? To learn more about umbilicoplasty (belly button surgery) in New York City and to schedule your consultation with Dr. Schulman today, give our office a call at (212) 289-1851, or click here.