The navel is a protruding, flat or hollowed scar left after the umbilical cord detaches.
Ductus venosus
The navel (clinically known as the umbilicus, colloquially known as the belly button, or tummy button) is a protruding, flat, or hollowed area on the abdomen at the attachment site of the umbilical cord. All placental mammals including humans have a navel.
The umbilicus is used to visually separate the abdomen into quadrants.
The umbilicus is a prominent scar on the abdomen, with its position being relatively consistent among humans. The skin around the waist at the level of the umbilicus is supplied by the tenth thoracic spinal nerve (T10 dermatome). The umbilicus itself typically lies at a vertical level corresponding to the junction between the L3 and L4 vertebrae, with a normal variation among people between the L3 and L5 vertebrae.
Parts of the adult navel include the "umbilical cord remnant" or "umbilical tip", which is the scar left by the detachment of the umbilical cord. This is located in the centre of the navel, sometimes described as the button. Attached round the umbilical cord remnant, is the "umbilical collar", formed by the dense fibrous umbilical ring. Surrounding this is the periumbilical skin. Directly behind the navel is a thick fibrous cord formed from the umbilical cord, called the urachus, which originates from the bladder.
- Outie: A navel consisting of the umbilical tip protruding past the periumbilical skin is an outie, essentially any navel which is not concave. A study taken of 1008 individuals aged at least 19 years old found that 49% have outies.
- Round shaped: Round navels are completely circular with no hooding.
- Vertical shaped: Some navels present in the form of a more elongate hollow parallel with the linea alba.
- Oval: This form consists of three variants; superior hooding, inferior hooding, no hooding.
- T-shaped: As the name states, the scar is in the shape of a T, and may have superior hooding to various extent.
- Horizontal: The scar is least visible as the natural lines of the tendinous intersection fold over the scar.
- Swirly/Spiral: A rare form in which the umbilical scar literally forms a swirl shape.
- Distorted: Any navel which does not fit well into any of the other categories.
Both Carlson twins have a swirly navel
Outies are sometimes mistaken for umbilical hernias, however, they are a completely different shape with no health concern, unlike an umbilical hernia. The navel (specifically abdominal wall) would be considered an umbilical hernia if the protrusion was 5 centimeters or more. The total diameter of an umbilical hernia is usually . Navels that are concave are nicknamed "innies". While the shape of the human navel may be affected by long term changes to diet and exercise, unexpected change in shape may be the result of ascites.
In addition to change in shape being a possible side effect from ascites and umbilical hernias, the navel can be involved in umbilical sinus or fistula, which in rare cases can lead to menstrual or fecal discharge from the navel. Menstrual discharge from the umbilicus is a rare disorder associated with umbilical endometriosis.
- Omphalitis, an inflammatory condition of the umbilicus in the newborn, usually caused by a bacterial infection.
- Omphalophobia is the fear of belly buttons. People suffering from Omphalophobia are terrified of belly buttons- their own or, in some cases, those of the others. They do not like touching their navel (or even other people touching it). Sometimes the mere sight of the belly button is enough to make them feel disgusted or terrified.
To minimize scarring, the navel is a recommended site of incision for various surgeries, including transgastric appendicectomy, gall bladder surgery, and the umbilicoplasty procedure itself.
Fashion, society and culture
The public exposure of the male and female midriff and bare navel was considered taboo at times in the past in Western cultures, being considered immodest or indecent. Female navel exposure was banned in some jurisdictions but community perceptions have changed to this now being acceptable. The crop top is a shirt that often exposes the belly button, and has become more common among young men and women. Exposure of the male navel has rarely been stigmatised and has become particularly popular in recent years due to the strong resurgence of the male crop top and male navel piercing The navel and midriff are often also displayed in bikinis or when low-rise jeans are worn.
The Japanese have long had a special regard for the navel. During the early Jōmon period in northern Japan, three small balls indicating the breasts and navel were pasted onto flat clay objects to represent the female body. The navel was exaggerated in size, informed by the belief that the navel symbolized the center where life began.
Buddhism refers to the chakra of the navel as the manipura. In qigong, the navel is seen as the main energy centre, or dantian. In Hinduism, the Kundalini energy is sometimes described as being located at the navel.
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