Umbilical (belly button) hernia repair can be performed open or laparoscopically, depending on the size of your hernia and other factors. Both approaches can usually be done as a day case. Pain is minimal due to the use of local anaesthetic and nerve blocks. A mesh (medical grade plastic sheet) is often placed in the tissue layers over the hernia repair to decrease the risk of the hernia coming back.
The decision to recommend surgical repair of umbilical hernias comes down to assessment of the risk of complication (strangulation of fat or bowel in the hernia) and your symptoms. Umbilical hernia repair is usually a very straightforward operation that is very safe. Therefore, if you are experiencing significant symptoms, it is best to have them repaired. Asymptomatic umbilical hernias generally do not need to be repaired.
Umbilical hernia repair has all the usual small risks of surgery (anaesthetic, bleeding, infection) but also some unique risks. Infection of the mesh, if placed, is a very rare but potentially serious problem. All hernia repairs have a risk of hernia recurrence long term. Depending on various patient factors, this is between 2 and 5%.