In recent years, however, there’s been a big increase in requests for surgery on a tiny part of the body that, until now, seemed like an afterthought.
While the question of the naval was once as simple as “innie” or “outie,” plastic surgeons told ABC News their patients are requesting a very specific aesthetic when it comes to the depression on their midriff.
“Oval, with a bit of a hood on the top,” Dr. Norman Rowe of Rowe Plastic Surgery in New York City said.
And if going as far as having surgery on the belly button feels a bit nit-picky, Rowe contends that’s really up to “who is picking the nit.” In other words, he said, what may be no big deal to one person may be a very big deal to another.
“For a person in a warm-weather climate, whose belly button is often exposed, it’s as important to have that area be attractive as it might be to another to fix the tip of their nose.”
While there’s no data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) on exactly how many belly button makeovers are taking place, Dr. David H. Song, Regional Chief of Plastic Surgery at Medstar Georgetown and past president of the ASPS told ABC News belly buttons are a “part of the conversation in plastic surgery in a way they have never been before. It’s definitely on the minds of people right now.”
Dr. Matthew Schulman, NYC Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon, said he’s doing three to four belly buttons per week, twice as many as he was doing just a few years ago. In California, Dr. Brent Moelleken, also told ABC News the requests for belly button makeovers has “more than doubled” in the past three years.
Dr. Rowe said the procedure, which is technically called umbilicoplasty, is a relatively simple one. “It had always been done as part of a tummy tuck, but now people are coming in for it as its own procedure.” Rowe said his patients come in to turn an outie to an innie, to remove skin from a previous piercing, reduce the size of the belly button or to change the shape.
“You can have it done now and be ready for Memorial Day,” he said.
Schulman agreed there’s almost no downtime to the procedure and said changing the shape from round to oval may make the abdomen appear slimmer overall. And while there’s plenty that can be done to make a belly button more pleasing, there’s one thing he can’t do.
“I get a request once in a while to turn an innie to an outie,” he said. “It can’t be done.”