It’s a tiny little body part that can make a world of difference, according to the plastic surgeons who’ve seen a major uptick in requests for belly button surgery just this year. Earlier this week, CBS reported that women who have “outie” belly buttons have been requesting “innies,” leading president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons Dr. David H. Song to note that “there’s a lot of belly button surgery going on.”
“I do a fair amount of them. A lot of patients are paying way more attention to their belly buttons than ever before. People are getting more in shape and starting to pay attention to themselves. And showing off the midriff is in style,” Song said.
What is the ideal belly button, anyway? Last year, surgeons from Singapore literally figured out what exactly the ideal belly button was using a computerized tool called the “Aesthetic Analyzer.” After looking at 37 Playboy Magazine playmates, they found that the most beautiful belly button is essentially small, vertically oriented, and has a very tiny flap or hood. What most people want, says Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Adam Rubinstein, is to be in the “range of normal. That means that most people want an innie even though an outie isn’t abnormal, and they want it proportional to their overall abdominal region.” So, even though we might not think of a belly button as an urgent issue, they are in fact one of the most quickly growing demands in plastic surgery today.
What Is A Belly Button, Anyway?
Belly buttons are pretty peculiar, as it turns out. Essentially, your belly button is your first scar, where the umbilical cord (the tissue that connects a fetus to a pregnant mother’s womb) detaches and falls off. The belly button itself “has nothing to do with how the umbilical cord was cut or clamped,” says Daniel McGee, M.D., a pediatrician at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. “Most outies are nothing more than extra scar tissue. The rest are caused by an umbilical hernia, when the stomach muscles don’t fuse together properly after the cord stump falls off, causing abdominal tissues to poke through.”
There’s a few reasons that you may have one of those “unattractive” outies:
Genetics. Some doctors say that genes determine whether you end up an inner or an outie: There’s nothing you can do about it.
Post-care birth. Another theory is that if the umbilical area is cleaned up in alcohol after birthing, the cord might dry up completely and leave an outie.
When pregnant, your rapidly expanding uterus might push the abdomen forward. So, if you have an innie, your navel might begin to protrude during the second trimester if you have a little bun in the oven. After birth, the belly button should return to normal in a few months, but it doesn’t always.
Umbilical hernia. If tissue from the abdomen pops out into the belly button, it will push the navel into an outie: “What I often see is a patient comes in with an outie and it’s actually a small umbilical hernia,” said Dr. Scot Glasberg. “You go in and fix the hernia and then you tack it down to the tissues underneath to try to make it an innie. That’s the most common scenario,” he said.
Belly button piercings. If you’ve had a baby when you don’t have your belly button ring in, it may look strange to have the hole several inches away from your new and protruding belly button ring. Even if you’re happy with the shape of the belly button, plastic surgeons have seen more and more women who want to correct their belly button to reverse the damage caused by the piercing.
Tack On An Umbilicoplasty to Your Tummy Tuck
One particularly common, and expedient, way to fix your belly button is to add on an umbilicoplasty (belly button surgery) to a tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck. For example, Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Polsen offers mommy makeover packages that include different surgical and cosmetic procedures tailored to each patient: Think breast lift, tummy tuck, and liposuction, but now, you can add on an umbilicoplasty if that’s a post-pregnancy concern. For some cosmetic features, like the belly button, there just isn’t any way to correct the aesthetic appearance with simply diet and workout: “Pregnancy and childbirth can have a drastic effect on the body, both physically and emotionally. Many areas of the body are stretched and stressed out of place, and those without great skin elasticity have trouble bouncing back.”
Whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to change or a result of pregnancy or weight gain, it’s easier than ever to take advantage of this new trend in plastic surgery. Depending on the surgery needed, recovery times and costs will vary. If it’s just a cosmetic procedure, Glasberg says that the general cost would run anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 and with a full tummy tuck, it might range from $8,000 to $12,000. Without the hernia, the surgery takes about an hour or two with just a local anesthetic. Hernia situations are slightly more complicated, but rarely involve recovery times longer than a couple weeks.
It’s extraordinary to see the depth of possibilities when it comes to achieving your dream body: Something as tiny as a belly button can now be adapted and changed. If you have questions about this procedure or whether it’s right for you, leave your questions and comments in the section below, anytime! We’d love to see them.
Dr. Charles Polsen is a surgeon who is well known for performing body contouring procedures such as a tummy tuck and Mommy Makeover. Dr. Polsen operates in the Houston area of Texas, where his patients can hit the beach year round!
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