Don’t let paraumbilical & umbilical hernias get in the way of your life
What are paraumbilical and umbilical hernias?
Your abdominal cavity contains your intestines and other structures. These are protected by your abdominal wall, which is made up of four layers.
Weak spots can develop in the layer of muscle, resulting in the contents of your abdomen, along with the inner layer, pushing through your abdominal wall. This produces a lump called a hernia. Paraumbilical and umbilical hernias are common as there is a natural weakness in the wall of your abdomen at your umbilicus. This can be caused by the way babies develop in the womb.
What are the benefits of surgery?
A benefit of having surgery is that you should no longer have the hernia. Surgery should prevent the serious complications that a hernia can cause and allow you to return to normal activities.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
In children under the age of about four, umbilical hernias tend to close. However, for older children and adults, surgery is recommended as it is the only dependable way to cure the condition.
What does the procedure involve?
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, but various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes about 30 minutes. Your surgeon will make a cut near your umbilicus. They will free up the ‘hernial sac’, place the contents back inside your abdomen and remove the hernial sac. Your surgeon will close the weak spot with strong stitches or a synthetic mesh and close your skin.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedure, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Unsightly scarring of your skin
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
Specific complications of this operation
- Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or fluid (seroma) under your wound
- Injury to structures within your abdomen
- Removing your umbilicus (belly button)
How soon will I recover?
If there are no complications during the surgery, you should be able to go home the same day. You will need to gradually increase how much you walk around over the first few days. You should be able to return to work after 2 to 4 weeks, depending on how much surgery you need and your type of work. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. However, the hernia can come back.
A hernia near your umbilicus is a common condition caused by a weakness in your abdominal wall. If left untreated, a hernia near your umbilicus can cause serious complications. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.
Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)
Illustrator: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com