The belly button, or umbilicus, makes an important contribution to an attractive abdomen. Ideally the umbilicus should be slightly taller than it is wide, with just a small amount of skin hooding over the top. This is the skin that a piercing would go through.
Weight gain and loss, pregnancy, and previous surgery can all affect the appearance of the umbilicus. The biggest complaint I hear from patients is “My belly button looks sad.” There are surgical treatments that can help make the belly button more attractive.
The treatment options depend on what is causing the deformity:
- Rectus diastasis (stretching of the abdominal muscles). Rectus diastasis occurs when the rectus muscles spread apart. This commonly occurs with pregnancy. In this instance, the belly button often appears shallow, and stretched out. Fixing this problem requires realignment of the abdominal muscles, as is done with a full abdominoplasty. Check out my previous post on abdominoplasty for more information.
- Scarring from previous surgery is another frequent cause of an unattractive umbilicus. If you’ve had any sort of laparoscopic surgery (e.g. appendix or gallbladder removal), or if you ever had an umbilical hernia, you will have a scar at the top of your belly button. The treatment here is excision of the excess skin that overhangs the scar- an umbilicoplasty.
- Excess fat will also cause the belly button to look less attractive. If you are at or close to your ideal weight, liposuction may help spot-reduce fat around the belly button.
- Excess skin is another common culprit of an unattractive belly button. This occurs after significant weight loss and after pregnancy. The treatment in this case is usually a full abdominoplasty.
And what if your belly button is an “outie”? Outie belly buttons are actually caused by a small hernia. The fascia, or tough connective tissue, that covers your abdomen has a small hole in it, allowing intra-abdominal fat to herniate out. In this case I recommend seeing a general surgeon to repair the hernia. Fortunately repair is often covered by insurance.
Do you have a belly-button related question? Or have you ever thought about changing the appearance of your belly button? We’d love to hear from you!
Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.