28/01/2010 14:31 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

U: What Is An Umbilical Hernia?

An umbilical hernia is a common condition that can happen to anyone of any age. It occurs when there is a weakness in the muscles that surround, or are close to, the belly button. This causes the belly button to pop out.

It is particularly common in children under two and is not a particular cause for concern. In most cases, the umbilical hernia will go away by itself and no treatment is needed.

However, if the hernia shows no sign of getting better, the individual will eventually need an operation to correct it as it may begin to feel uncomfortable or, in rare cases, can cause secondary problems. However, children will not normally undergo this procedure until they are of school age.

The operation to repair an umbilical hernia is normally done under general anaesthetic, and takes around 20-30 minutes. During this time, the bulge will be pushed back into the abdominal area, and the wall of the abdomen will be strengthened.

In children, this usually involves making a small incision just above or below the belly button, so that the surgeon can access the abdominal area sufficiently. Stitches will be used to strengthen the original weak spot and prevent a hernia form occurring again. In adults, this procedure can sometimes be done via keyhole surgery.

While it is a minor procedure, both children and adults can experience some pain and discomfort. However, with care and plenty of rest, most patients feel back to their usual self within two weeks.

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