What Is Umbilicoplasty? The Rise of Belly Button Surgery

From butt lifts to nose jobs, cosmetic surgeons can change almost any part of the body with a nip and tuck.

But whether it's transforming “innies” into “outies,” removing fat during a tummy tuck or neatening the navel skin, umbilicoplasty—or belly button surgery—is an increasingly popular trend, surgeons say. 

It can also be used to reverse damage caused by pregnancy, weight gain or piercings, as well as to repair an umbilical hernia—where tissue inside the body has caused the belly button to protrude.

In general, these procedures aren't medically necessary but are carried out to neaten up the appearance of the midriff. 

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has not released data specifically on belly button surgery, but plastic surgery information website RealSelf told Newsweek that there had been a 12 percent increase in inquiries about belly button surgery compared to this time last year.

GettyImages-103107873 Umbilicoplasty alters the appearance of the navel area. Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images

“Inquiries about belly buttons have seen a significant increase,” said Dr. David Shafer, a board-certified plastic surgeon and contributor to RealSelf.

“Over the last several years with the use of cell phone cameras and selfies, people are becoming more aware of their body and overall appearance,” he added.

One RealSelf user wrote that they pierced their own belly button at the age of 15, and the area became infected.

“I had pretty bad anxiety back then so I would repeatedly scratch this scar off all the time. So needless to say the scar tissue had gotten really thick and raised and not pleasant looking.

“It is a relatively small scar that many people would not bother with but it has always been something that has really bothered me and decided it was time to do this for myself and put myself at ease.”

On average, belly button surgery costs around $2,000 and can take around two hours to complete, but Shafer urged those who are considering it to be aware of the health risks.

“Umbilicoplasty is real surgery and care should be taken in picking out the right surgeons,” he said.

“Risks for any surgery are bruising and swelling. Also healing is different for all patients, so patients should review any concerns ahead of time such as family or self history of keloids or hypertrophic scarring.”

He added: “It can't be emphasized enough to make sure a patient goes to a plastic surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery."

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