I avoided sex because of my gross, never-ending belly button but I'll get intimate after £6,000 operation

The plastic surgery procedure, known as umbilicoplasty, changes the size and shape of your navel by removing or stretching the surrounding skin.

It’s popular with new mums left with an “outie” postpartum; carrying a baby puts pressure on the area which then “pops” out in their final trimester.

And Meghan Markle is no exception – as photos of the pregnant Duchess last month showed.

Dr Esho, from E4’s Body Fixer’s, said demand for the £2,000 operation is likely to have risen because of social media.

“I associate this rise with the trends in fashion where people are now more comfortable showing their stomachs particularly in pictures shared on social media," he explained.

"Therefore, as a culture we are more aware of this region and how we would like it to look.”

Other factors include weight loss, to treat a hernia or simply because they don’t like the appearance.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), the fourth most popular procedure last years was a tummy tuck, which belly button surgery is sometimes included in.

Here, two women reveal why they went under the knife and tweaked their belly buttons.

Kara Hawley said her belly button had stretched so much during four pregnancies and gaining and losing weight that it looked “gross”.

The 38-year-old, from Vancouver, Canada, was so self-conscious of her tum she didn’t want her ex-partner to see her naked or to be intimate with him.

She told Fabulous Digital: “I felt super self-conscious in regards to my body and the hang on my belly button and stomach.  I would not ever get naked. I would always have a shirt on.

“I avoided intimacy at any chance I could. I would make the excuse that I was tired or had cramps.

“Because of this and other issues the relationship did break down.”

Kara hid her “saggy stomach” under baggy clothes – and had refused to wear a bathing suit or go swimming with her children for 16 years.

She decided to go under the knife last month in Guadalajara, Mexico, to have umbilicoplasty, a tummy tuck and breast implants, and has been left with a “cute belly button instead of a never-ending hole”.

Kara, who works as a personal trainer and paid £6,600 for the operation, went from a size 12 and a 34A to a size 8-10 and a 34DD. Kara said she worked two extra jobs for four months to save for the operation.

“I wanted belly button surgery because of how big mine had become. The doctor cut four inches of it off,” she said.

“I love my new belly button. I feel amazing. I wish I got it earlier because I haven’t enjoyed the pool with my kids in over 10 years. I hated seeing my body in a bathing suit.

“This will change my life for the better. I can wear fitted clothes and a bathing suit without feeling self-conscious. Eventually, when I find the right person, I think intimacy will come easy.”

Kara, whose children are aged from nine to 17, described the pain of the surgery as “tolerable”, adding: “I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

And she added she’s already bought new swimsuits “because I really want to go swimming with my kids. I also bought crop tops too!”

What is umbilicoplasty?

Umbilicoplasty, sometimes referred to as "belly button surgery", is a plastic surgery procedure to modify the appearance of one's navel.

It may be performed as part of a tummy tuckor lower body lift operation, or it may be performed alone.

Candidates typically choose the surgery because they dislike how their navel looks. They may have a protruding or inverted navel, which they may wish to change. Their navel may be as it was from birth, or it may have changed due to unrelated surgery, such as a Caesarean section.

Another fairly common reason is because of dramatic weight loss or pregnancy, which can change the shape of a belly button. Some may have experienced weight gain, weight loss, or pregnancy, causing changes to the shape of the navel.

Cosmetic surgeons concede that women between 35–45 years of age opting for tummy-tucks and liposuctions immediately following childbirth constitute nearly 25% of their practice.

The procedure can cost anywhere between £2,000-6,000.

Meanwhile, married Preciosa Bell, 34, a personal trainer from Atlanta, Georgia, saw her belly button change from an “innie” to an “innie-outie” after giving birth to her second child six years ago.

The mum-of-two had developed an umbilical hernia, when fatty tissue or part of the bowel pokes through the abdomen, which is very common and something that Meghan could experience.

Preciosa, who competes in bikini fitness contests, said she was “aware” her belly button had “changed” after having her daughter, but said she went under the knife because she was worried about continuing to weight-lift.

She paid £1,000 – and her insurance company paid the rest – to have the hernia fixed as she was told her “small intestine could pop out and cause a strangulation blockage”.

The operation lasted about an hour under a general anaesthetic and Preciosa said afterwards it “hurt like hell”, taking about six weeks for it to heal.

She told Fabulous Digital: “I asked for the 'senior most' physician in the office of three doctors I was referred to. I wanted the one with the most experience.

“He hid the scar up under the 'smiley face' so I'm very happy,” Preciosa, who shares photos of her fitness training on Instagram, said.

“It seems a lot of women with children (this came after my second child and daughter) who lift weights get them.”

Preciosa, who has two children, including a 17-year-old son, with her husband Tom, said there was no alternative to the surgery if she wanted to carry on weightlifting.

She added that it took her four days to show off her new belly button, and it was bruised.

Although she admitted: “I was more conscious of it, and it took some getting used to.”

Meanwhile, a plastic surgery addict with heart-shaped nipples was left with boobs that resembled ‘tennis balls plopped in a sock’ after botched operation.

And, can you guess which of these women forked out £59,000 on their face and which spent £10 as cosmetic regimes compete?

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