Belly button makeovers: Doctors help shape the ‘perfect’ navel

By Joan Raymond-TODAY contributor


Considering that the human belly button is really nothing more than a scar from a cut umbilical cord, it seems a little strange to waste time gazing at your navel. That’s easy to say if you like the looks of that little “innie,” which is hopefully centered between your hips.

But for many people, a misshapen, misaligned, protruding or even missing belly button is a source of embarrassment. Fortunately, there’s a fix, and a new study published in ASJ, the journal of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, is providing doctors a road map to create what may be the “perfect” belly button.

Before and after belly button surgery

American Society for Aesthetic P
Before and after umbilicoplasty, or belly button surgery.

Using a computerized tool called the “Aesthetic Analyzer,” surgeons from Singapore tried to determine the optimal position of the belly button both vertically and horizontally, as well as its length and its shape. Pictures of Playboy playmates (37 to be exact) served as the source of “beauty.”

What they found was the beautiful belly button has a vertical ratio of 46:54, a midline horizontal position, a length that is 5 percent of the length from the xiphoid process (the lower part of the breastbone) to the lower limit of the vulvar cleft, and an oval shape with no hooding (29.8 percent) or superior hooding (21.6 percent).

In English, that means essentially the beautiful belly button is small, vertically oriented, and has a tiny flap or “hood,” explains Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Adam Rubinstein. “Using Playboy playmates is kind of an arbitrary sample. Just because these women are considered beautiful doesn’t mean they have beautiful belly buttons,” he says.

What people really want is to be in the “range of normal,” says Rubinstein. That means that most people want an “innie” even though an “outie” isn’t abnormal, and they want it proportional to their overall abdominal region. And there are some people who simply want a belly button.

“Adults can lose their belly buttons after a tummy tuck, for example, if the surgeon doesn’t create one, and sometimes they lose it just through another type of stomach surgery,” Rubinstein says. “Sometimes the belly buttons that are created are just really bad looking.” Weight gain, pregnancy and umbilical hernias can also make the belly button less than appealing. The procedure used to create a belly button is called an umbilicoplasty and it only takes about 30 minutes to about an hour to perform.

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