Paediatric umbilical hernia repair

Hernia surgery for young children

Umbilical hernias are common in babies and young children, but can be easily fixed with a straightforward procedure

About umbilical hernias

As your baby's belly button heals, the ring of muscle where the umbilical cord used to be may not completely close over. A hernia will sometimes appear as a protruding lump at their belly button. This may be especially noticeable when your baby is coughing, crying or straining.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Umbilical hernias usually disappear on their own as your baby's tummy muscles continue to develop. If the hernia is especially large or doesn't go away by the age of two, your consultant may recommend a procedure to repair it. This will prevent potential complications as your child gets older. The procedure is done under general anaesthetic, meaning your child will be asleep. Your surgeon will make a small cut at your child's belly button and push the protruding tissue forming the hernia back into place. They will also close any weak spots or gaps in your child's tummy muscles with stitches. The procedure usually takes around 30 minutes.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have. Because the procedure will be done under general anaesthetic, they'll let you know how long your child should avoid eating and drinking before surgery. Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    Your child should be able to return home on the same day as their surgery. Sometimes very young children are cared for in hospital overnight. There is likely to be some bruising and swelling or tenderness in the area for about a week following the procedure. Your consultant may recommend pain relief medication, including paracetamol or ibuprofen, to help keep your child comfortable. Your consultant will also let you know when your child can get back to their usual routine including school or nursery.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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