Retracted, round, protruding: what the navel says about your health

For some it is a subject of fear (omphalophobia, that is, fear of one’s own and other people’s belly buttons – a real phobia), for others it is a reason to get a piercing and add a fashion accessory to your appearance in a crop top…

Whatever feelings you feel towards your own navel, one thing is important – it is a clear and undeniable reminder that you were once in your mother’s womb, and then parted with it.

The navel is a scar on the front wall of the peritoneum, formed after the remnants of the umbilical cord, which was cut after your birth, fell off. This stump gradually, within a week or two after birth, dries up and falls off, leaving behind a small wrinkled depression, a round “button”, or a scar of some other shape, depth and diameter.

Types of navels

Retracted, round, protruding: what the navel says about your health

There are many different variations, but the main types of belly buttons are:

1. Retracted

Occurs in most people. The depth of the depression depends on the amount of fatty tissue on the abdomen and can range from half a centimeter to 2.5–3 centimeters.

2. Protruding

This happens when the umbilical cord scar for some reason does not retract inward, but protrudes above the surface of the abdomen.

3. Narrow vertical and narrow horizontal

These types of belly button look like a slit or fold in the skin of the abdomen.

4. Round

Such a navel usually does not protrude, but is pressed into the stomach, and resembles a symmetrical “button”, not covered by folds of skin.

5. “Light Bulb”

Such a navel has an oval shape with a slightly overhanging “hood” at the top, and tapers towards the bottom, just like a light bulb.

Be that as it may, no two scars will ever be exactly alike, so even identical twins have different belly buttons. You can rest assured that your belly button, no matter what it looks like, is completely unique. But if for some reason you don’t like the appearance of your navel, it can be corrected with plastic surgery.

Navel and health

Probably the most well-known disease associated with the navel is an umbilical hernia. We are talking about a protrusion in the navel area, which occurs due to divergence or weakening of the abdominal wall muscles in this place. Inside this protrusion are the abdominal organs.

A hernia most often occurs in the navel area, as this is the weakest point of the abdominal wall.

To get rid of an umbilical hernia, surgery is necessary.

In addition, owners of retracted navels face a specific problem – dust, dirt, fabric fibers from clothing, dead skin cells, and other debris usually accumulate in such natural recesses, sweat and water get there.

All this, with poor hygiene, promotes the growth of yeast and bacteria, and can lead to inflammation of the skin in the umbilical fossa, the appearance of an itchy rash, and the formation of pellets that can be difficult to remove.

In severe cases, umbilical pellets turn into “umbilical stones” – hardened accumulations of all kinds of debris trapped in the umbilical fossa. Such stones have to be removed through a surgical procedure.

The navel can also tell you something about internal diseases. So, at the end of the 19th century, Sister Mary Joseph Dempsey, a nun who devoted her life to caring for patients in a hospital in Minnesota, noticed something interesting. At that time, cancer of the abdominal cavity and pelvic organs was detected much later than now, when the process had already spread and metastases appeared.

Sister Mary noticed that some patients with advanced cancer develop a specific dense nodule on the navel, which is different in color from the surrounding skin. It was later discovered that this lump, named after Sister Mary Joseph Dempsey, indicated the spread of cancer to the navel tissue. This symptom is now rare because cancer is usually diagnosed at an earlier stage.

The navel can also signal liver problems.

The fact is that in the skin surrounding the navel there are superficial veins through which blood enters the hepatic portal vein or portal vein of the liver – a large vessel through which blood from the abdominal organs enters the liver.

If the pressure in the portal vein increases, as occurs in liver diseases such as alcoholic cirrhosis, the superficial veins that radiate in all directions around the navel become swollen, distended, and visible through the skin. The resulting picture resembles the head of the gorgon Medusa surrounded by snakes. Therefore, in medicine, this symptom of liver disease is called caput medusae, or “head of Medusa.”

Leave a Comment