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Increasing numbers of people want their belly buttons (or umbilicus) to be perfectly shaped. Cosmetic surgeons have developed an operation called an umbilicoplasty which can achieve this. Mostly, the surgery will involve making an “outie” (where the belly button sticks out) into an “innie” (where the belly button is inside a hole) or making an “innie” a little less obvious by lessening the size of the hole. Normally belly button surgery may be performed on a patient who is undergoing a tummy tuck but some people want to alter the size and shape of their navels with an umbilicoplasty procedure on its own. It can be performed using local anaesthesia to numb the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy, so that you remain awake but feel very little discomfort. Recovery generally takes a week or so; but you can usually return to light activities the day after your operation. Private costs for a belly button surgery procedure can range from £800 - £1,500.
The umbilicus or belly button is the scar from the umbilical cord that fed you while you were in your mother's womb. It is the way in which your skin is attached to the underlying muscle.
When the midwife or doctor cuts the cord at birth, the scar, which is left, is usually inside a hole. This is often referred to as an “innie” type of belly button. If your belly button sticks out, it is, quite logically, called an “outie”. Many people seem to prefer an "innie" instead of an "outie."
Whether you have an “outie” or an “innie” is caused by how the scar is attached to the muscle under the skin, how loose your skin is, and how tight your tummy muscles are. If you are unfortunate to suffer from a hernia, this can cause a change of the shape of your belly button, as can scars left by earlier surgery or from wearing jewellery such as belly button rings.
You will no doubt have noticed that it is currently very fashionable for women to wear cropped tops and hipster trousers in order to reveal their navels. A study published in the U.S. in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals that one third of young women who are at college in America now have pierced belly buttons. The fashion would seem to be as popular in this country too.
Men often expose their navels when they are doing sports and exercise and male body builders value a nicely shaped belly button to complement the rest of their perfect physique.
Thus, cosmetic surgeons in America have developed an operation called an umbilicoplasty. Increasing numbers of people want their belly buttons to be perfectly shaped and this operation can achieve this. Mostly, the surgery will involve making an “outie” into an “innie” or making an “innie” a little less obvious by lessening the size of the hole.
However, as with any cosmetic surgery, some people have rather different reasons for wanting to have their navels re-shaped. They may include:
Many people combine belly button sculpture with a tummy tuck but according to 2005 statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), over 2,100 umbilicoplasties (without a tummy tuck) were performed in 2005 in the U.S.. (Note: ASAPS appear to have stopped reporting on statistics for belly button surgery after 2005).
No official figures are yet available for the U.K., but there are a few surgeons who are starting to offer this procedure here.
If you're considering an umbilicoplasty, the following information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure. It can't answer all your questions, since a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask a surgeon about anything you don't understand.
Your first discussion with a surgeon should clearly set out your expectations and whether the operation can give you the results you desire.
Careful discussions regarding the reasons for wanting an umbilicoplasty or belly button surgery and your suitability for this type of operation are very important at this stage. Make sure that you obtain as much information as necessary to enable you to make a fully informed choice and make sure you receive satisfactory answers to all your questions.
Your surgeon may suggest that a more complicated procedure, such as liposuction or a tummy tuck needs to be combined with belly button surgery in order to achieve the results that you desire. This obviously needs careful consideration as these procedures are more serious and carry a greater risk.
A medical history should also be taken to make sure that there are no reasons why you shouldn’t have this operation. You would normally be asked to sign a consent form which means that you have understood the potential benefits and risks associated with any such surgery.
Photographs may also be taken by the practitioner as a "before and after" comparison at a later date.
The surgeon may also wish to write to your G.P. giving details of the operation so that if there are any problems associated with surgery in the short or long-term; your doctor is aware of the procedure and can help you to recover.
Belly button surgery can be performed using local anaesthesia to numb the area around the belly button, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy, so that you remain awake but feel very little discomfort
A general anaesthetic may be recommended or offered by your surgeon, but please take into account that this carries more potential risks – this should be clearly explained by the surgeon before you make any decisions about the anaesthetic.
If you make a decision to go ahead with an umbilicoplasty, the actual procedure may take place in an outpatient surgical clinic or a hospital setting.
The surgery will usually take no longer than one hour for a surgeon to perform – but it can be longer if an umbilical hernia needs to be repaired or removed.
Different techniques are used to reshape your belly button depending upon the surgeon and the type of new shape you require.
The surgeon will try and cut your skin inside the belly button to make the scars less visible after the operation.
A light dressing may be applied immediately following the operation, but no surgical drains are required.
Stitches are usually dissolvable and do not need a return visit to be removed.
Depending on the nature of your operation, you may be released from hospital after only a few hours.
Umbilicoplasty recovery generally takes a week or so; but you can usually return to light activities the day after your operation.
Side Effects and Risks
Pain following an umbilicoplasty is usually mild and can be easily controlled with painkillers suggested by your surgeon.
Bruising and swelling after belly button surgery is usually quite light and short-lived.
Like all surgical procedures, there is always a possibility of risks or side effects and, although rare, these can include infection, a reaction to the anaesthesia, blood or fluid collection underneath the skin, numbness and an irregular or a “lop-sided” appearance of the belly button (which may require further surgery to correct).
Scars are usually hidden within the belly button, but excessive scar formation can occasionally occur where the scars broaden and thicken.
It is very important that you follow the advice of your surgeon carefully after an umbilicoplasty.
Post-surgery advice may include:
There are few absolute medical reasons why you should not undergo belly button surgery as long as you are in good general health and have realistic expectations of this procedure.
If you have experienced healing problems with any past surgical treatments or if you are prone to keloid (red, angry, raised) scars, your surgeon may not recommend an abdominoplasty or may caution you that scars could be very visible and permanent.
Who Can Do It
Only fully trained and qualified surgeons should perform a belly button operation.
For more information about practitioner training, qualifications and relevant medical organisations please view the information contained within the Legislation section of the Consulting Room.
It is highly unlikely that anyone considering an umbilicoplasty operation would be able to access this free of charge on the National Health Service.
However certain regions do make special cases and we would always recommend that you visit your General Practitioner before embarking upon any cosmetic surgery procedure.
As well as their advice and guidance they may also be able to refer you to a local NHS Hospital for a consultation.
The NHS has set out the following guidelines on how to get cosmetic surgery through the NHS:
"To qualify for surgery on the NHS you must meet specific criteria as set out by your local health authority. The NHS will not pay for surgery for cosmetic reasons alone. Reconstructive and cosmetic surgery to correct, or improve, congenital abnormalities and injuries will usually be carried out free of charge.
NHS reconstructive surgery is performed by plastic surgeons who have had extensive training and belong to the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Surgeons who carry out cosmetic surgery through the NHS also belong to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.
To receive cosmetic surgery from the NHS, you will normally need a referral from your GP. You will have a consultation with a plastic surgeon and an assessment by a psychiatrist, or psychologist. It will then be decided whether there is enough social, psychological, or physical benefit to be gained to justify surgery."
Private prices for a belly button surgery procedure can range from £800 - £1,500.
Normally belly button surgery may be performed on a patient who is undergoing a tummy tuck.
Nevertheless with current fashion and belly buttons on show much more, some women want to alter the size and shape of their navels with an umbilicoplasty procedure.
This operation on its own and in the hands of an experienced surgeon is one of the lower risk cosmetic surgery procedures available.
It is, however, very important for you to describe exactly how you see your navel looking after the operation with a surgeon who regularly performs belly button surgery.
How long the results will last is difficult to predict, and depends upon you not losing or gaining too much weight. If you get too fat, for example, your navel could disappear altogether!
Your surgeon will discuss how long they expect the results to last with you, based on their own experience and the experience of their colleagues.
Before and After Pictures
Results vary enormously depending upon both the patient and the skill of the individual surgeon, so outcomes for cosmetic surgery procedures will always be more variable than those for less invasive non-surgical treatments.
We currently do not have any before and after images for Umbilicoplasty (Belly Button Surgery).