Q: Dr. Eppley, I am interested in an umbilicoplasty procedure. I hate the look of my bellybutton as it sticks out and want a prettier bellybutton that turns in like most people. How is the procedure done and was is the approximate cost of turning an ‘outie’ into an ‘innie’. Thank you.
A: The bellybutton or umbilicus is the residual attachment of the umbilical cord. It forms a visible depression in a very constant and central location on the abdomen. Underneath it lies the midline union of the paired vertical rectus muscles which will also have a depression or concavity in it, making it a structural point of potential weakness and the potential for a hernia. Most commonly the navel appears as a depression or innie which occurs in about 90% of people. In the minority (10%) an outie belly button is present which can either just be from extra skin left over from the umbilical cord or exists because the skin at the base of the belly button is pushed outward from a protruding hernia.
Differentiating the type of outie bellybutton is important as that determines how it is done and the cost of the surgical techniques to do it. An outie that is just a stump of skin (no hernia) can be done in the office under local anesthesia. The stump of skin is removed and the edges sewn down to create the innie look at a cost of $1500. If the outie has a palpable hernia, it will need to be repaired in the outpatient operating room under IV sedation. The umbilical hernia needs to be repaired at the same time with a total cost of between $2500 to $3000.
How do you know if your outie has a hernia? Push inward and see if you can feel a ring or hole underneath. Also an outie that is just a stump of skin can not be displaced inward. (the stump gets pushed in but the stump keeps its shape) The outie that can easily be pushed inward through the inner ring or hole has a hernia.
Dr. Barry Eppley