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RESEARCH

The Average Size and Position of the Umbilicus in Young
Men and Women
Deborah Yu, MD,* Wendy M. Novicoff, PhD,† and Thomas J. Gampper, MD*

Craig et al4 described the ideal woman umbilicus based on
Introduction: Abdominoplasty was the third most common cosmetic surgical
a panel's review of photographs. Their results suggested that a small
procedure in 2012. The umbilicus is transposed within the abdominal skin flap
T- or vertical-shaped umbilicus that had a superior hood or shelf was
during this procedure. Few studies address the size and location of the umbilicus
the most aesthetically appealing.4
with precise measurements as well as those that do report on a heterogeneous
The goal of our study was to determine the average size and po-
population. The goal of our study was to determine the average size and position
sition of the umbilicus in men and women in young subjects. The data
of the ideal umbilicus by limiting the study to young men and women of normal
will serve to aid in umbilical transposition during abdominoplasty as
body habitus.
well as any other abdominal wall reconstruction procedures.
Methods: Subjects were recruited in a University of Virginia Institutional
Review Board–approved study. Demographics of the subjects were recorded.
Each subject's umbilicus was assessed for height, width, and position relative SUBJECTS AND METHODS
to existing landmarks. This study was approved by the University of Virginia Institu-
Results: Eighty subjects met the inclusion criteria: 43 women and 37 men. Most tional Review Board for Health Sciences Research (IRB HSR). Sub-
of the subjects were white (72.5%). The mean ± SD BMI was 22.4 ± 2.5 kg/m2. jects were recruited using IRB HSR–approved flyers and the IRB
The mean ± SD height and width of the umbilicus was 2.1 ± 0.6 cm and HSR clinical trials website. Participants were screened for the exclusion
2.3 ± 0.7 cm, respectively. The umbilicus was located at a mean ± SD of criteria before the study: no history of scars on the abdomen (striae,
−0.7 ± 1.3 cm in relation to the iliac crest (crest at zero). There were differences operative scars, etc.), no history of pregnancy, and no weight loss of
seen in the position between men and women. There were no statistical differ- more than 10 pounds. Each subject's age, sex, race, height, and weight
ences in measurements between the races. were recorded. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated for each subject.
Conclusion: Our study serves as a guide for umbilical positioning with mean Each subject's umbilicus was assessed for height, width, and overall
measurements for men and women, and categorized by sex and race. shape. The following measurements were also taken to denote the
Key Words: umbilicus, size of umbilicus, position of umbilicus, abdominoplasty, position of the umbilicus in relation to existing landmarks: transverse
abdominal wall reconstruction distance of the umbilicus to the right and left iliac crests, umbilicus po-
sition relative to the iliac crest level (iliac crest was zero), umbilicus to
(Ann Plast Surg 2016;76: 346–348) xiphoid, and umbilicus to pubis. Photographs of the participants with
no identifying factors were taken at the visit with the subjects' consent.
All measurements were taken by 1 of 2 investigators. All photographs
I n 2012, abdominoplasty ranked as the third most common cosmetic
surgical procedure, with 156,508 procedures performed that year.1
As part of the abdominoplasty procedure, the umbilicus is transposed
were taken by one investigator.

within the abdominal skin flap. Despite the prevalence of this proce- Statistics
dure, few studies address the size, shape, and location of the umbilicus. Descriptives and frequencies were calculated for all variables.
Baroudi2 described in his 1975 paper that a normal navel resem- Univariate correlations were computed to examine relationships be-
bled a round, depressed scar and measured 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter. tween variables. Two-sample independent t tests were used to com-
These characteristics were not based on any objective data taken from pare differences in means between groups. All data were analyzed
subjects. Three years later, in 1978, Dubou and Ousterhout3 reported using SPSS version 21 (IBM, Armonk, NY). For this study, α was set
their measurements of umbilical position from 100 nonobese patients a priori at 0.05.
(no BMI reported). Of the 100 subjects, 36 were men and 64 were
women, ranging in age from 18 to 69 years.3 No surgical or pregnancy RESULTS
histories were noted. They reported that 96% of their subjects' umbili-
cuses were at the height of the iliac crest, with the mean distance from Eighty subjects met the inclusion criteria. There were 43 women
the umbilicus to the xiphoid of 15.5 cm (range, 11–20 cm) and from and 37 men. Most [72.5% (58/80)] of the subjects were white. The
the umbilicus to the pubis of 15.03 cm (range, 10–18 cm).3 The mean remaining 22 subjects encompassed 3 African Americans (3.8%),
distance was 0.1 cm below the iliac crest (range, 2.5 cm below to 17 Asians (21.3%), and 2 Hispanics (2.5%). The mean ± SD age was
2 cm above).3 22.4 ± 4.8 years, with a range from 18 to 39 years. The mean ± SD
BMI for all subjects was 22.4 ± 2.5 kg/m2, with a range from 17.4 to
29.9 kg/m2. There were a variety of umbilical shapes noted by the inves-
tigators, including, crescent, round, triangular, and oval (vertical, trans-
Received October 21, 2014, and accepted for publication, after revision, December verse, or oblique). The mean ± SD height of the umbilicus was
27, 2014. 2.1 ± 0.6 cm, with a range of 1.3 to 3.7 cm; and the mean ± SD width
From the *Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, and †Departments of Pub- was 2.3 ± 0.7 cm (range, 1.0–4.0 cm). The umbilicus was located at a
lic Health Sciences and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Virginia Health Sys-
tem, Charlottesville, VA.
mean ± SD of −0.7 ± 1.3 cm in relation to the iliac crest (crest,zero;
Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared. range, 5 cm below to 3 cm above; Table 1).
Reprints: Thomas J. Gampper, MD, Department of Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, The mean ± SD distance from the right iliac crest to the umbili-
University of Virginia Health System, PO Box 800376, Charlottesville, VA cus center for all subjects was 14.5 ± 1.4 cm, and the distance from the
22908. E-mail: Tjg6f@hscmail.mcc.virginia.edu.
Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
left iliac crest to the umbilicus center was 14.4 ± 1.2 cm. The mean ±
ISSN: 0148-7043/16/7603–0346 SD distance from the superior edge of the umbilicus to the xiphoid
DOI: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000000478 was 17.5 ± 2.0 cm. The mean ± SD distance from the inferior edge of

346 www.annalsplasticsurgery.com Annals of Plastic Surgery • Volume 76, Number 3, March 2016

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

4 Our mean size of the umbilicus is consistent with previously described normal umbilicuses.5* The mean ± SD age of the man subjects was 22. with the oval shape being the Umbilical width. kg/m2 23.000 for both). and Hispanic subjects. or previous the Pubis) of All Subjects pregnancy. cus center was 15.9 Differences in Sex BMI. The umbilicus was located at a mean ± SD of −0.3 ± 4.4 and 14. TABLE 1. respectively).0 cm).7 kg/m2.4 cm in the women (Table 2).1 13. Asians.2 ± 1. This result is consistent with previously de- Umbilical location.3 cm for the Hispanic group (Table 3). yr 22. (P = 0.2 13.9 ± 1.1 ± 0.7 ± 1. iliac crest.7 2. cm 2.2 in the women (Table 2). zero −1.8 years.8 ± 1.2 cm for the African Americans.7 ± 2.6 cm for the Hispanic group.3 ± 0.2 and measurement from the left iliac crest). cm 13.7 22.0 ± 1.8 cm.9 ± 1.1 ± 0. in- Age. 22. cm 2.5 oblique). The umbilicus was located at Umbilicus to pubis.0 ± 1.1 ± 0. The mean ± SD widths of the um- in the women. No measurement was significantly corre- lated with age (Table 1). cm 2.3 cm for the African BMIs of the groups are the following: white group.3 scribed “normal” umbilicus shape as being a “round. 23.9 cm for the Asian group.7 cm.3 ± 0. triangular.1 ± 0. African Americans. and 0.4 ± 1.1 ± 2.5 kg/m2.5 cm for the Differences in Race African American group. The mean ± SD distance from the inferior edge of the bilicus were 2.9 ± 1. The mean ± SD heights of the groups was seen in the distance from the center of the umbilicus to the right and left iliac crests (P = 0.4 cm in the men and 14.3 cm in There was a significant difference in BMI between the sexes relation to the iliac crest for the whites. All rights reserved.7 cm and the mean ± SD width Left Iliac crest to umbilicus.5 ± 0.7 years. and Distance from the Umbilicus to jective or nondiscriminatory with respect to age.6 2. 17.0 ± 0.4 a mean ± SD of −1. umbilicus to the superior edge of the pubis was 14. Using analysis of variance.6 ± 1. or Body mass index. Inc.2 was 2.0 17.5 and that of the woman subjects was 22.9 ± 1. The only measurements that had a significant correlation with BMI were TABLE 2.0 ± 1. Distance From Left Iliac Crest to Umbilicus.010 and P = 0. Because the goal of abdominoplasty is to restore youthful contours. The mean ± SD Umbilical width. 23. 11.2 ± 1. 22.9 ± 2. Inc. 1.8 cluding crescent. and significant weight loss.1 ± 2.7 cm. Xiphoid to umbilicus.7 cm for the Hispanics.1 ± 2. Number 3.0 ± 2. The mean ± SD height of the umbilicus Right iliac crest to umbilicus. 21.5 ± 1. The mean ± SD distance from the left iliac crest to the umbili- cus center was 14.2 © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health.4 ± 4.9 ± 5.4 cm for the Asians.7 years. 20. All numbers are expressed as mean ± SD. Interestingly. panics. −0. 13. 0. Umbilical Location in Relation DISCUSSION to the Iliac Crest.4 ± 0. and 18.1 ± 0.2* in the women was 2. *Significant difference between the groups P < 0. our study quantifies All Subjects the size and position of the umbilicus in young healthy subjects to serve as a reference.3 −0.9 ± 2.5 kg/m2. cm 15.8 the round or transverse oval shapes scored the highest in aesthetic All numbers are expressed as mean ± standard deviation.1 ± 0. Distance from the Previous investigations of umbilical position were either sub- Xiphoid to the Umbilicus.1 ± 0.1 cm for the Asians.6 cm with a range of 1.9 cm for the white group.9 ± 1.3 to 3. Umbilical height. round. 13. March 2016 Average Size and Position of the Umbilicus the umbilicus to the superior edge of the pubis was 13. Left iliac crest to umbilicus.7 second most common.005.7 ± 1.5 cm.0* The mean ± SD width of the umbilicus in the women was 2. 2. cm 18.8 cm for the Asians.9 cm and 1. There were a variety of umbilical shapes encountered.3 ± 0.9 ± 1.1 cm in the 2.2* subjects was 21.Annals of Plastic Surgery • Volume 76. P = 0. cm. .7 ± 0.com 347 Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health. cm 14. 2.7 BMI of the man subjects was 23.5 ± 4.1 ± 1.8 ± 1.5 cm for the African Americans. kg/m2 22. Asian group. and the distance from the xiphoid 13.6 cm and. The mean ± SD ages of the racial groups are as follows: white The mean ± SD distance from the inferior edge of the umbilicus to subjects. 16. cm −0.9 ± 1.2 cm for the African Americans.1 ± 1. the mean ± SD height of the umbilicus in our study was 2.1 ± 0.6 kg/m2. and 13. in a previously published study. and oval (vertical. American group.043). with men having a slightly higher BMI for our study group.0 cm in the the umbilicus by group were 2.0 ± 0.5 ± 4.0-4.3 kg/m2.3 years.046). The mean ± SD distance from the superior edge of the umbi.1 ± 1.” 2 Right Iliac crest to umbilicus.9 ± 1.7 ± 1.3 ± 1.2 cm for the Asian group.4 However. appeal.4 ± 4.4 ± 1. weight. Umbilical Width.4 and to the superior aspect of the umbilicus (P = 0.0 cm for the His- The measurements of statistically significant difference between the panics (Table 3) 2 sexes were the distance above/below in relation to the iliac crest The mean ± SD distances from the right and left iliac crests to (P = 0.0 ± 2.000 on 13.9 ± 1. The most common umbilical shape noted in our study was a Umbilical height. the superior edge of the pubis was 14.4 kg/m2. and that in the men was 2. surgery.9 ± 1.8 ± 0.4 ± 2. the only statistical difference between and Hispanic group.5 cm for the His- men and 13. which is consistent with a trans- Xiphoid to umbilicus. cm 2. women.1 ± 1.7 cm (range.6 ± 2. cm. cm 14.0 ± 2.4 14.3 and 13.7 cm for the whites.1 cm for the African Americans. neither Umbilicus to pubis.3 cm in relation to the iliac crest in the men and at a mean ± SD of −0. iliac crest(0).1 ± 0. Age and Measurements of 8 Parameters (BMI.4 ± 1. and 2.0 ± 1. The mean ± SD distance from the right iliac crest to the umbili.2 cm for the whites. depressed scar.1 ± 1. Umbilical Height. cm 14. 1.4 ± 4. licus to the xiphoid was 18.7 ± 1.2 cm in the women.3 ± 0.annalsplasticsurgery.7 ± 2. transverse. and that of the woman Umbilical location. Age and Measurements of Same 8 Parameters From the distances from the umbilicus center to the right and left iliac Table 1 of Men and Women crests (P = 0. cm 17. yr 22.6 round shape in both men and women. African American group.9 ± 0.9* and that in the men was 2.0 verse oval shape.3 ± 0.6 cm for the Asians.2 cm in the men and 13.8 ± 1. 18.049).9 ± 0.0 ± 2. (P = 0.0 ± 0. 20.000 on measurement from the right iliac crest.9 years. The mean ± SD distances from the superior edge of the umbilicus to the xiphoid was 17.0 cm in the men and 17.0 ± 2.3 ± 0.1 ± 1. www. cm 14.1 cm for the whites.4 ± 0. All rights reserved.6 cm for the whites.1 ± 0. the distance from the iliac crests to the umbilicus center the umbilicus center were 14. Men Women Age.05.2 cm for the Hispanics. and 14.8 ± 2.3 21. The mean ± SD 13.5 ± 2. Distance from the Right Iliac Crest to Umbilicus.2 years.

1 ± 1.6 Umbilicus to pubis.2 2. Plast Reconstr Sur.3 ± 0. The umbilicus was located at a mean ± SD of −0. 5 cm below to 3 cm above). 0. Our study serves as a guide for umbilical reconstruction with There were several statistically significant measurements that differed mean measurements for men and women. Placement of the umbilicus in an abdominoplasty.7 ± 1. Inc.2 ± 1.3 Our study was unique in that we separated the measurements CONCLUSION according to sex and race.3 ± 4. Accessed March 14.6 ± 2.05).2 11. Clin Plast Surg.9 ± 1.9 16. Number 3.1 ± 2.7 ± 2.com © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health.1 0.000 on measurement from right iliac crest.9 ± 0.9 13.5 23.surgery.1 ± 0.8 13.3 13. tance to the iliac crests is shorter in women.9 ± 5. With larger non- but the difference between the 2 mean measurements was smaller in white subject numbers. 4 cm in our study).3 All numbers are expressed as means ± SD. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank Statistics 2012.3 −0. between the 2 sexes: the distance above/below in relation to the iliac crest (P = 0. Craig SB. Pucket CL.pdf.0 ± 2.8 ± 1. the latter of which is likely Plast Reconstr Surg.010 and P = 0. All rights reserved.6 ± 1.9 ± 0. inferiorly in men compared with women and that on average the dis. Age and Measurements of Same 8 Parameters From Table 1 of the Different Racial Groups (Whites. can be made from our study are that the umbilicus is located more 2. 1975. Asians. more conclusions may be made about the dif- their study (difference of only 0. cm. . In search of the ideal female umbilicus.7 ± 1. tween racial groups was seen in the distance from the center of the which is similar to previous publications but slightly different from umbilicus to the right and left iliac crests (P = 0.org/ to the superior aspect of the umbilicus (P = 0. Otherwise. 2000.2:431–448.4* Left iliac crest to umbilicus.9 ± 1. ments were similar across the races.7 ± 1.7 ± 2. Ousterhout DK. *Significant difference between the groups was P < 0.0 Right iliac crest to umbilicus.3 ± 1.3 cm in Using analysis of variance. when reconstructing an umbilicus. Baroudi R. This finding could be explained by differing truncal iliac crest.6 2.0 ± 0.5 1.Yu et al Annals of Plastic Surgery • Volume 76.2 20. Dubou R.049.7 ± 1. yr 22. and Hispanics) Whites Asians African Americans Hispanics Age.4 1. Faller MS. which had not been published previously. Umbilicaplasty.005.1 0.0 ± 0.9 ± 1.105:389–392. which should be taken into account umbilicus center to the right and left iliac crests were similar.000 on measurement from left iliac crest).25 cm in their study versus nearly ferences in measurements and position of the umbilicus.7* Xiphoid to umbilicus. March 2016 TABLE 3. The um. cm 2.0 ± 0.5 Umbilical location.4 13.5 18. range.043). cm 2. the remaining measure- bilicus was closer to the pubis compared with the xiphoid in our study. African Americans. the prevailing school of thought of placement of the umbilicus at the respectively).3 ± 0.1 ± 0.5 ± 0. cm 14.2 13.7 BMI. ± 0. 2014. Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health.2 Umbilical width. cm 17.2 13.3 20.7 ± 0. Inc.3 The umbilicus was midline as the measurements from shapes across the various races. women compared with men. and the distance from the xiphoid 1.4 21.1 ± 1.6 2.2 14.9 ± 2. Available at http://www. the only statistical difference be- relation to the iliac crest (crest. iliac crest. related to differing body types by sex. 1978. Conclusions that sites/default/files/ASAPS-2012-Stats.3 ± 0.6 18. cm 14. P = 0.8 ± 0.1 17.5 Umbilical height. kg/m2 22. zero −0.61:291–293. Our study is limited by low subject numbers.3 13.8 ± 2. specifically the wider hips in 4. the distance from the iliac crests to the umbilicus REFERENCES center (P = 0.2 ± 1.8 23. 348 www.annalsplasticsurgery. cm 14. 3. The proximity to the pubis was also found by Dobou and Ousterhout.7 2. All rights reserved.

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