The quest for the “perfect” belly button!

Belly button surgery is one of the relatively “hot” surgeries in recent years. The procedure is called umbilicoplasty which is a cosmetic surgery procedure to help create a more attractive belly button. This can be accomplished by itself such as creation of an “innie” from an “outie” but is more frequently done at the time of a tummy tuck. In my opinion, the belly button is the most important cosmetic part of a good tummy tuck. The lower tummy tuck scar is hidden well too low for the patient to routinely “show it off”, but the belly button is easily flaunted. Patients are very concerned about their belly button and want as natural an appearance as possible.

Many patients have been unhappy with their belly button’s for all of the lives. For some, the belly button was distorted from pregnancy, weight gain or even umbilical hernias.

There is actually little written to date on the perfect belly button. There are a handful of techniques described and used by plastic surgeons to achieve this. A formal study done at the University of Missouri (by a friend of mine) about a decade ago looked at the characteristics of the perfect belly button. They photographed belly buttons of volunteer college students and had the photos judged. Attractive belly buttons were more vertically oriented, occasionally a “T” shape created by an overlying small “hood” was considered attractive as well. I would add to this, the absence of surrounding stretch marks, minimal fat, no hair (on a female) and smooth surrounding skin without visible scarring. Most of these seem fairly intuitive.

To try to achieve the perfect belly button surgically, I have modified my technique over the years and have been happy with a modification of an inverted “U” incision pattern. This helps to prevent narrowing of the scar, hide it on the inside of the belly button where it is not as visible and creates a very nice vertical belly button with a small overlying hood.

An umbilicoplasty is routine in a full abdominoplasty which also involves tightening of the abdominal muscles, and removal of redundant skin, stretch marks and fat. Often this is combined with liposuction for greater definition of the abdomen.

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