Tummy tuck after a umbilical hernia repair using mesh
You’ll be pleased to know that it is possible (and relatively common) to have a tummy tuck after receiving mesh repair surgery for an umbilical hernia. If you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck, there is no reason that your plastic surgeon would consider past hernia surgery to be a contraindication to a tummy tuck.
However, there are some risks to be aware of before considering this type of surgery. Having a tummy tuck after umbilical hernia surgery can negatively impact how the belly button heals. This could potentially lead to necrosis of the belly button.
Why does this happen? Well, depending on the details of your hernia repair surgery, there’s a chance that your surgeon may have separated the belly button from the abdominal wall in order to repair the hernia. In this scenario, your belly button is no longer able to receive blood from your abdominal muscles and, instead, gets its blood from the surrounding skin.
When you get a tummy tuck, your surgeon may incise the skin surrounding your belly button — the same skin that supplies your belly button with blood. With no muscle or skin left to supply blood to the belly button, the cells that make up your belly button may die.
This may sound severe, but rest assured that the risk is relatively small when the operation is performed by a skilled surgeon. Remember that many board-certified plastic surgeons are also general surgeons and are just as adept at fixing hernias as they are at performing tummy tucks.
Make sure that your tummy tuck surgeon receives the operative notes from your umbilical hernia surgery so that they can get a thorough understanding of the operation and the hernia repair techniques (e.g., open repair or laparoscopic repair) employed by your previous surgeon.
Your past umbilical hernia repair surgery will probably not limit your options for abdominoplasty (otherwise known as a tummy tuck). This is because the two procedures effectively involve different parts of the body.
As you may be aware, hernias have a high recurrence rate. To minimize this risk and strengthen the repair, many surgeons choose to use surgical mesh — particularly when dealing with relatively large hernias. During your operation, your surgeon would have placed the mesh in the abdominal wall in order to reinforce the weak spot and fix the hernia defect.
While a tummy tuck does involve your abdomen, it takes place at a more superficial level. A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure that is used to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen to create a thinner and firmer stomach.
The tissue that is removed is located above the muscles of the abdominal wall. Therefore, past surgery involving the abdominal wall (umbilical hernia repair, in your case) should not contraindicate a tummy tuck.
In saying this, umbilical hernia surgery can interfere with how the belly button heals post tummy tuck. It’s very important that your tummy tuck surgeon is able to see the operative record from your umbilical hernia repair in order to minimize the risk of complications.
In my experience, many patients who have undergone surgical repair for an umbilical hernia are able to achieve fantastic results with a tummy tuck, although — as with many other types of cosmetic surgery — the outcome does largely depend upon the skill of your surgeon. As such, I strongly recommend taking the time to find a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience with tummy tucks and body contouring procedures.
An umbilical hernia repair with mesh should not limit your options for a tummy tuck. Just make sure to tell your plastic surgeon that you have had this procedure previously so he/she knows what to expect when performing the tummy tuck.
Dr. Gary Breslow has 16 Tummytuck before & afters: