Outside In: Belly Button Surgery On the Rise

It’s not uncommon to hear about plastic surgery, because plenty of people get work done. Breast augmentations, tummy tucks and even lip reductions are popular plastic surgery procedures in the United States, but now patients are looking to have plastic surgery on their belly buttons.

Umbilicoplasty is the New Plastic Surgery on the Rise
There is an increasing trend of patients who want to have umbilicoplasty surgery, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Despite its growth in popularity, the ASPS does not track how belly button surgeries are performed each year, but some of the organization’s members report performing the procedure three to four times a week- if not more in some warm weather regions.

Dr. Jack Peterson, M.D. is a plastic surgeon and a member of the ASPS. Although he has not seen requests for belly button procedures in his Topeka, Kansas, office, he is not surprised at the new trend.

“Plastic surgery procedures have increased significantly over the last few years in both number and kinds of procedures being performed, so it’s no surprise people are now looking to augment their belly buttons,” Peterson said.

Killing Two Birds with One Surgery – Combining Belly Button Procedures with Other Surgeries
There were over 1.7 million plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States in 2016, according to the ASPS annual report, Plastic Surgery Statistics. Of this 1.7 million procedures, 127,633 of these procedures were abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, procedures. During the tummy tuck, it is not uncommon for patients to have a new belly button created as part of the procedure.

“Many patients have their natural belly buttons removed during the abdominoplasty when excess fat and skin are removed,” Peterson said.

In this instance, the patient is given a new, cosmetic belly button to have a natural looking midsection. Some patients who have experienced significant weight loss are also seeking a new look for their navels because they want to show off their new shape and have the belly button procedure done as part of body lift surgery.

Body lift surgery is often performed on patients after they have experienced significant weight loss to reduce excess skin.

“It’s not uncommon for patients to want to reveal their new figures after reaching their goal weight, and for some patients, this means wearing two-piece swimsuits or work out gear that shows their new shape,” Peterson said.

Other Reasons for Umbilicoplasty
While the tummy tuck and body lift procedures often include a new or restructured navel component, the ASPS reports that the belly button procedure is now being done as a standalone surgery for patients who are just not happy with their belly button’s appearance.

One of the most common complaints patients have is that they have an “outie” belly button which occurs when more umbilical cord is left after being cut. Some patients with outies also develop hernias which can leave the navel damaged. Other patients seek the procedure to correct damage or scarring caused to their belly button by navel piercings.

“Scar tissue is a common occurrence because of body piercings, and can leave the area not only scarred, but also misshapen,” Peterson said.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, but over time, the body begins to push out the piercing. This leaves behind scarring. 

Pregnancy can also change the shape and appearance of the belly button as the skin of the midsection stretches to accommodate a growing baby. After giving birth, some patients have excess skin or wrinkles near the belly button that they want to remove.

Patients looking to have the umbilicoplasty procedure are seeking surgeons with a specific look in mind- an oval with a slight overhang, according to the ASPS. If there are no surgical reasons behind the procedure, like a body lift or hernia, the umbilicoplasty is performed under local anesthesia in the office. Patients have no down time and can show off their new navels in about seven to 10 days.