The standard treatment for an umbilical hernia in adults is surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. In babies who are younger than 18 months, however, the umbilical hernia is often left to heal on its own.
Children who develop an umbilical hernia are usually observed, but surgery may be necessary in certain cases, explains Mayo Clinic. For instance, if a hernia is painful or larger than 1.5 centimeters in diameter, a doctor typically recommends surgery. Surgical removal of a hernia in children may also occur if the hernia doesn't decrease in size after six to 12 months, if the child has the hernia after the age of 3, or if the hernia blocks the intestines.
During hernia surgery, a small cut is made near the base of the belly button, claims Mayo Clinic. The tissue that has herniated is pushed back into the abdominal cavity, and the opening of the abdominal wall is closed. In adults, a doctor typically uses surgical mesh to lend strength to the abdominal wall. Once the surgery is completed, the recurrence of the hernia is rare.
Complications from hernias are rare in both children and adults, according to Mayo Clinic. When complications occur, they often cause pain and may lead to tissue damage. If the tissue is cut off from the blood supply for too long, death of the tissue may occur.