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The umbilical hernia


The navel is a natural weak point in the abdominal wall. A gap develops here when there is increased internal pressure in the abdominal cavity, and an umbilical hernia can form. In the process, the peritoneum and sometimes pieces of the large and/or small intestine push through the hernial orifice. However, 98% of all umbilical hernias are congenital and are already discovered in babies.


Acquired umbilical hernias often occur in women aged 40 to 50 who have gone through several pregnancies and/or have weak connective tissue. Other risk factors are obesity or pregnancies that stretch the umbilical region considerably for a longer period of time, but severe weight loss can also be responsible for umbilical hernias. Heavy coughing, intense physical exertion, abdominal dropsy, asthma, prostate disease and smoking can all promote umbilical hernias.


The umbilical hernia in babies

98% of umbilical hernias are congenital and are usually diagnosed at baby age. But acquired umbilical hernias can also occur in babies. Especially in premature babies who cough and cry a lot due to pneumonia, the abdominal wall in the umbilical region can break. Mostly, umbilical hernias in babies are harmless and heal on their own in most cases during the first year of life. Nevertheless, the umbilical hernia should be shown to a doctor. If the umbilical hernia is larger than one centimetre or the baby is in pain, an operation may be necessary.



If organs are trapped in the hernia, this is a life-threatening situation and the baby must be operated on immediately. This manifests itself in cramping pain, fever, vomiting, constipation and the area at the navel may become red. In this case, go to the emergency with the baby immediately!

The umbilical hernia during pregnancy

During pregnancy, umbilical hernias can develop more easily due to the pressure of the baby in the abdomen. If only a small umbilical hernia forms during pregnancy, it often recedes on its own after the pregnancy and does not need to be treated. After the birth, it is important to exercise the muscles in the abdomen again. This can promote the independent regression of an umbilical hernia.

Symptoms of an umbilical hernia

Mostly umbilical hernias cause little pain

  • Protrusion at the navel, between 1 to 5 cm in size
  • Usually only mild pain that occurs when lifting, pressing or coughing
  • If trapped, colicky pain and pressure-sensitive abdomen

CAUTION: If you have fever, vomiting, nausea and pain, it could be an incarcerated hernia. Sometimes the hernia turns bluish in colour if it is incarcerated. Call us immediately or go to the nearest hospital emergency ward!

Surgery for an umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia that has formed during pregnancy can regress on its own. Otherwise, umbilical hernias in adults must be expected to enlarge slowly but steadily. An operation is necessary if the umbilical hernia causes pain or discomfort.


The surgeon adapts the surgical procedure used to the size of the fracture and the physical strain on the patient in everyday life. Small fractures can sometimes even be operated on an outpatient basis.


Here you can find out more about the surgical techniques with or without mesh and the aftercare.

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