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Umbilical Hernia and Pregnancy: What Should You Consider?

It is estimated that up to a quarter of all women of childbearing age have an umbilical hernia, knowingly or unknowingly. At the end of pregnancy, there are enormous pressure conditions on the abdominal walls, which is why the risk of developing an umbilical hernia also increases with each subsequent pregnancy.

For many women with an umbilical hernia, the question arises: Should I have my umbilical hernia surgically repaired? And if yes, then when? Before a planned pregnancy, during pregnancy, or perhaps afterward.

Data from the USA have shown that 56-73% of women who were already operated on for an umbilical hernia before pregnancy experience a recurrence of the hernia (recurrence) within 10 years. Additional risk factors include obesity, smoking, and each subsequent pregnancy.

Therefore, it is recommended, whenever possible, to undergo surgery only after completing family planning.

If surgery is necessary due to pain before or between pregnancies, it is recommended to perform a simple suture repair of the hernia defect. This is usually done on an outpatient basis and can also be performed under local anesthesia if desired. The use of a plastic mesh for repair leads to significantly increased abdominal wall pain during pregnancy and should therefore be postponed until family planning is completed. Plastic meshes are especially necessary when the rectus abdominis muscles have separated (rectus diastasis) after pregnancy. That can also be performed minimally invasively through small incisions on the abdomen in most cases.

The risk of complications from an umbilical hernia during pregnancy is very low. Surgery during an existing pregnancy should therefore be avoided and is only necessary in the rarest of cases.

In my practice, I am happy to advise you without time pressure and in a pleasant atmosphere. If surgery is advisable, we will work together to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Since every patient is different, there is no surgical method that is equally suitable for everyone.

I look forward to your visit!

OA Dr. med. univ. Matthias Hofmann is a specialist in general surgery and visceral surgery, specializing in hernia surgery.