Umbilical Hernias

What is an umbilical hernia?

An umbilical hernia is a tear in the abdominal wall causing a bulge near the belly button (umbilicus). Some people are born with umbilical hernias. Other people get them as adults because of obesity, childbirth, or straining of the abdominal wall.

What are the symptoms?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Presence of a “bulge” that is often tender to touch near the belly button
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

Why should I get my hernia repaired?

At present, the only treatment for a hernia is surgery. In addition to causing pain, they can trap, wrap around, or “strangle” part of the intestine, reducing the blood supply to the intestines. If left untreated, this would lead to severe pain, nausea, vomiting, and bowel obstruction and would require emergency surgery.

How is it diagnosed?

Doctors use a physical exam and may use imaging studies, such as an ultrasound or a CT scan, to make a diagnosis.

What is the surgical treatment?

Most umbilical hernias require surgery. Our surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive surgical techniques using small incisions. This method allows for:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Less postoperative pain
  • A shorter hospital stay

Doctors reduce the hernia, placing the contents of the abdomen back into their proper place. They use sutures, mesh, or both to reinforce and repair the abdominal wall.

What can I expect after surgery?

Depending on the complexity of the hernia, patients may go home the day of surgery or require a short hospital stay.

When you go home:

  • Wear a binder around your abdomen for support and pain control
  • You may have a pressure dressing over your incisions for two weeks
  • Take pain relievers as prescribed by your surgeon
  • If you had general anesthesia, no driving for 24 hours 
  • Return to driving and work within a week if you are off pain medication and follow the lifting restriction
  • Heavy lifting and strenuous activities should be avoided for the length of time recommended by the surgeon
  • Follow up with the surgeon in two to three weeks to plan a return to normal activities
  • You and your surgeon will discuss any specific recovery instructions

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN general surgery services.

For follow-up questions related to your hernia care, contact the Comprehensive’s Hernia Center’s Clinical Coordinator, Jennifer Somers at (412) 578-4215 or at