Everything You Need to Know About Having Your Umbilical Hernia Repair with Mesh

When I decided to have umbilical hernia repair with mesh, it was a difficult decision. For starters, I wanted to avoid surgery if at all possible. Also, if I had to have surgery, I was worried the use of mesh might result in some sort of crazy issues, and I’d be part of one of those class-action lawsuits I see commercials for on daytime TV.

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In life, there are some times where you belatedly realize the importance of what just happened. For me, having my umbilical hernia repaired was one of those things.

I hadn’t anticipated greatness or a life-changing event when I entered the hospital for surgery.

I didn’t foresee this one event would put me on track to get rid of pain and regain control of my aching, weak body.

But, it did.

And, within a couple of weeks post-op, I knew it.

Here’s everything you need to know about having an umbilical hernia repair with mesh so you can decide if this procedure is right for you.

If you’ve got umbilical hernia-related questions, download your FREE copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair now!

What Is an Umbilical Hernia?

umbilical hernia

An umbilical hernia is when your intestines start to come through your abdominal wall near the belly button area. Plainly stated, it’s when you have an “outie” where you used to have an “innie.” The bulge can be sensitive and sometimes painful.

While there are several types of hernias, umbilical hernias only happen near the belly button. According to the Mayo Clinic, they are common in babies and can often heal on their own. However, with anyone aged 4 or older, umbilical hernia repair often requires surgery.

What Causes an Umbilical Hernia?

Maybe you’re wondering, What on earth could happen to make my intestines start to come through my abdominal wall?! 

Great question. There are many things that can cause a weakening in the abdominals. Obesity, pregnancy (especially multiple pregnancies), and abdominal surgeries can cause a weakening or thinning of the abdominal wall.

Once this thinning happens, it makes it much easier holes to start to appear.

Does Mesh Have to Be Used?

When I met with my surgeon to try to decide if I wanted to have my umbilical hernia repaired, one of my first questions was about whether the mesh is essential.

After years of watching commercials about class-action lawsuits for people who have had surgeries with mesh, I was worried. Surely mesh was dangerous if law firms were paying to run commercials asking people to step forward and share about their bad experiences.

And, from what my doctor explained, it sure could be a problem.

If surgical mesh isn’t handled properly, it can become contaminated with bacteria. Then, obviously, when it’s inserted into the body, bad things happen.

However, if you trust your surgeon and the area where their surgeries are performed, you really don’t need to worry about anyone contaminating your mesh.

Plus, the benefits of using mesh greatly outweigh the potential disadvantages.

Why Many Doctors Use Mesh

Most umbilical hernia repairs use mesh. In some cases, it doesn’t have to be used, but in many, it’s essential for the surgery’s success.

My doctor explained umbilical hernia repair with mesh to me like this:  

umbilical hernia repair with meshImagine you have a pair of jeans that you wear all the time. Because of the use, the material at the knees may start to thin. You may even find one day that there is a rip at the knee.

Because that material has thinned so much, there’s not really any good material in that area to hold a stitch. You’d have to really reach far and gather material for stitches to hold, but that would look really odd and those jeans wouldn’t feel right on your leg anymore.

However, you could put a patch beneath the rip. That patch would give you solid material to work with, and the knee of your jeans would feel pretty much like it used to.

Truthfully, there’s still no 100% guarantee the patch is going to totally work and fix things because sometimes patches fail. In most cases, though, they work.

When You Might Have Problems with Your Mesh

Although most people don’t have any issues with their mesh, some folks do. Often, this is because of the body’s reaction to the foreign object (the mesh) that has been inserted.

When this happens, the body will start to fight and destroy the mesh. It will do everything possible to break up and remove the mesh from your body.

To you, this might feel like the area with the mesh is painful and/or warm to the touch. If you notice pain or heat around your surgical incision or near the area impacted by your surgery, call your doctor immediately.

Would I Recommend Umbilical Hernia Repair with Mesh?

The Wednesday after Christmas, my mailman and I got to chat when he brought me a package. (God Bless Amazon Prime.) He told me he was going to have surgery the following day to have his umbilical hernia repaired, so he wouldn’t be bringing my mail for a while.

I smiled and said, “It’ll change your life!

How Hernia Repair Changed My Life

I had a small umbilical hernia from my first pregnancy. It was extremely painful while I was pregnant, but after delivery, it really didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t even think about it being there, let alone think about fixing it.

However, after my second child, it became really obvious that I had a gaping hole in my gut about 3 fingertips wide and 3 fingertips long. I could very easily notice when my intestines were falling out, and I could put them back in by lying on my back and carefully pressing them back into my abdominal cavity.

If you can’t tell by my italics, it horrified me to be so closely dealing with organs that are supposed to be internal and protected.

In addition to the general nastiness of having to put my intestines back in my body, the hernia caused my core to be pretty worthless. I suffered from back pain and was unable to hold chiropractic adjustments, my pubic bone kept shifting out of place, and no matter what strengthening exercises I tried, things just weren’t getting fixed.

When my second child began weaning, I consulted a doctor and got scheduled for surgery.

The Results Were Amazing!

The first few days after my umbilical hernia repair with mesh were definitely challenging. However, after a couple of days, my body started feeling better and I was even able to decrease my pain meds.

Related: The 3 Do’s And Don’ts After Umbilical Hernia Surgery You Need To Know

After about a month, I really started noticing a difference. Consistently, I started feeling better. My adjustments started holding better. I could move without pain regularly! It was amazing. I almost felt foolish for not having it fixed sooner.

This is kind of silly, but my big goal was to be able to vacuum my own house.

Up until my umbilical hernia surgery, I was physically unable to even run the vacuum on my hardwood floors. Literally, I had to pay someone to clean my house because 20 minutes of effort on my part led to hours in bed and tears shed.

So, I knew using the vacuum was going to be my test. If I could run the vacuum and not have to rest for the remainder of the day, then this surgery would accomplish my biggest goal—getting to live an average life without pain or restriction.

The first day I vacuumed my house, I cried with joy. I was delighted to finally be able to accomplish this simple task that had been causing my body so much pain and my spirit so much grief.

It’s Up to You…

Living with an umbilical hernia is like using a laundry basket with a hole cut out of the middle. Sure, you can still kind of carry your clothes, and if you walk really slowly, you can gather what you drop and put it back in the basket.

It’s fine; you can get by. However, if you could have a laundry basket with no hole?

Well, that’s a whole different story.

If you’ve got umbilical hernia-related questions, download your FREE copy of The Beginner’s Guide to Umbilical Hernia Repair now!

Have you had umbilical hernia surgery with mesh? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! After going through umbilical hernia repair, I recovered and used simple exercises to rebuild my abs so they're stronger than ever. Let me help you do the same.


  1. Robert Tomas on September 11, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    I’m always searching for great tips and data like the one in this article.

    • Sarah Stockett on September 11, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you, Robert!

  2. Jacques on November 15, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Sarah,

    It’s been a few years since your surgery. I was wondering how your total recovery went? I need to get mine done but I’m hear about these 100,00 law suits about the mesh.

    • Sarah Stockett on November 17, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Jacques,

      I had my surgery June 2017 so, yes, it has been a little while. Like you, I was really worried about all the mesh-related lawsuits I had heard about (mostly in commercials I saw on daytime TV). I talked to my doctor about it, and he said there are very few instances where a person’s body rejects the mesh and has issues. Those lawsuits are mostly against places that didn’t follow the directions when they used the mesh. Really, it comes down to whether you think your medical professional will do his or her best to keep the mesh sterile before it enters your body.

      So far, I have not had any issues. There have certainly been times where I felt a pull too near my incision area and got worried. However, I backed off and didn’t have any pain or issues the following day. Overall, I have never thought my repair was anything less than excellent.

      Thanks for asking such a very thoughtful question. 🙂

  3. Dian on August 28, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    My umbilical hernia began after I had my gall bladder removed in 2009. It is large, but I rarely have any trouble with it. It will periodically hurt for a few minutes, but I can lean back in the recliner or lay down in my bed and let it go back in place. That will relieve the pain. I’ve struggled for years now, trying to talk myself into having the repair. I’m overweight and keep thinking I’ll get the weight off, then have it done…..but that has never happened in the past. But….now I’m finally at a place where I’m losing weight. I have 50 pounds off, but still have 90 more to go. I’m wondering if I should wait until I get closer to my goal before having the surgery. Do you have any recommendations on that issue?


    • Sarah Stockett on August 30, 2021 at 11:09 am

      Hi Dian,

      Thanks for sharing your story. Overall, I’d say whenever you’re ready to have the surgery is the right time to have it. For me personally, I didn’t realize how badly my umbilical hernia was causing my body pain and keeping me less active than I wanted to be until after I had my repair. I, too, had tried to lose weight before my surgery. (I don’t think I did.)

      Then, once I healed from surgery, I felt good and was motivated to restrengthen my abs. I started working out, lost weight, and got to feel like my old self again.

      Best wishes,

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