During a tummy tuck, your surgeon will not only remove excess fat and skin from your abdomen but also perform any necessary repairs to the muscles of your abdominal wall. These repairs are often necessary if you have experienced a past injury that separated the muscles or if a pregnancy has torn the muscles apart and left them unable to knit themselves back together. It is not uncommon for plastic surgeons to find and fix hernias while inspecting the abdominal wall during a tummy tuck. While this is a common occurrence and plastic surgeons do fix hernias all the time, they may not do it every time.
A hernia occurs when an internal organ from the stomach cavity pokes through the abdominal wall. This usually occurs if there is a small hole in the abdominal muscles or if there is a weak spot in the muscles that allows the organ to create a hole and squeeze through it. Hernias are often quite painful, but some people experience mild hernias and remain completely pain-free and unaware of them. These asymptomatic hernias can exist undetected for years and may be discovered and subsequently repaired during a tummy tuck. Known hernias can also be repaired but may require some advanced planning.
Can You Get a Tummy Tuck with a Hernia?
Yes. Because your surgeon can repair a hernia during your tummy tuck, there is no reason that a hernia would prevent your tummy tuck surgery in most cases. It could be cause for delay, however. If you are unaware that you have a hernia, it is likely a mild one that your plastic surgeon can easily fix. This happens frequently, so you need not worry that finding a hernia during your tummy tuck will alarm or unnerve your surgeon in any way.
If you are aware of your hernia prior to your tummy tuck surgery, however, it’s something you should discuss with your surgeon. Your surgeon can then closely examine you and, if necessary, take images of your hernia. This will allow him or her to formulate a plan for repairing your hernia before your tummy tuck surgery begins. If your hernia is severe, your plastic surgeon may wish to schedule your tummy tuck at a time when a general or abdominal surgeon can assist with your hernia repair.
Can a Hernia Be Repaired During a Tummy Tuck?
Hernia repair is actually quite similar to parts of a tummy tuck, which is why performing a hernia repair and tummy tuck together is so commonplace. To repair a hernia, a doctor makes an incision in the abdomen to access the abdominal wall. They then push the protruding organ back into place and close the defect in the abdominal wall with sutures, strengthening it if necessary. At this point, the general surgeon is done and can close the incision.
A plastic surgeon, however, will complete the hernia repair and then proceed to remove excess skin and fat around the belly to complete the tummy tuck as planned. With the unwanted tissue removed, the plastic surgeon will smooth the remaining skin over the abdomen and suture it in place as low on the abdomen as possible so you can easily hide the scar under panties or bikini bottoms.
Umbilical Hernia Repair with Mini Tummy Tuck
Not all hernias are the same. Many people experience umbilical hernias, which are protrusions of the intestines that occur near the belly button. Umbilical hernias can be repaired during a tummy tuck procedure, but they may also be repairable during a mini tummy tuck.
Patients who desire a tummy tuck to deal with belly fat located only below the navel can often elect to have a mini rather than a full tummy tuck. Although it requires a smaller incision and slightly shorter recovery time, the disadvantage of a mini tummy tuck is that it generally eliminates the surgeon’s ability to fully access and repair defects in the abdominal wall muscles. Because umbilical hernias are so close to the belly button, however, a surgeon can usually repair them even during a mini tummy tuck procedure.
Will Insurance Pay for a Tummy Tuck with Hernia Repair?
If you plan to combine your hernia repair with a tummy tuck, be prepared to pay for a large portion, if not all, of the surgery on your own. Insurance companies view tummy tuck as elective cosmetic procedures and generally don’t pay for them. Some will pay for the hernia repair portion of the surgery only, while others may refuse to pay at all.
Mia Aesthetics does not work with any insurance companies, although we do work with several financing companies to help make your surgery more affordable. If there is a possibility that your insurance may cover the hernia repair portion of your surgery, you will need to pay for your surgery yourself and then work out a reimbursement plan with your insurer. We recommend having all of these plans in place prior to scheduling your surgery.