Like many moms who've had multiple C-sections, Lori Jones of Houston just wanted to wear a two-piece bathing suit again. She saved her money, did tons of research and went to several consultations before settling on a surgeon she was comfortable with. But when she came out of surgery and was able to remove her surgical dressing after several weeks, she was surprised to discover her belly button was missing.
If you've never had a tummy tuck, you might be a little fuzzy about the details.
During the procedure (officially called abdominoplasty, by the way), the surgeon removes excess fat and skin to create a tighter, flatter abdomen. They cut a C-section-like incision first, then make a vertical cut from the top of the lateral incision toward the belly button, and around it, to create a flap. At this point, your belly button is basically temporarily removed. They raise the flap up to the rib cage or sternum and fix separated muscles (known as diastasis recti) if necessary. Then they pull the skin back down, trim the excess skin and then sew your belly button back into place.
It is common during a tummy tuck for the surgeon to need to remove the belly button and then sew it back on before finishing up. However, due to her multiple C-sections, Jones reportedly had an umbilical hernia and a lot of scar tissue that made it too difficult for the surgeon to put her belly button back in its original spot.
An umbilical hernia is when part of the intestine protrudes into the umbilical opening, causing the belly button to stick out like a little soft bulge. Although it's more typical in babies and young children and is usually painless for little ones, according to the Mayo Clinic, when it affects adults—mostly women—it can cause pain or abdominal discomfort and can only be fixed with surgery.
While the tummy tuck turned out great, she says, Jones claims that the doctor didn't warn her before the surgery about the possibility that she could lose her belly button.
Dr. Younan Nowzaradan—a world renowned plastic surgeon who has been featured on TLC's "My 600 Pound Life," which follows morbidly obese patients who undergo gastric bypass surgeries—says otherwise. Nowzaradan said he told Jones both before and after surgery that with the scar from her previous incisions, there was no way to save the area.
The doctor said he could recreate a belly button for Jones after she's healed enough to undergo surgery again in six months, but she's not having it. The 45-year-old mom has contacted an attorney and it looks like she'll have to settle up in court over her missing belly button.