Wow, Yesmam, I am so glad to have been able to get a lock on this question!
Of all the Google Answers Researchers, I may be the only one who has
had **actual personal experience** with the subject of bellybutton
removal. Navelectomy. Whatever. ;-)
A series of medical disasters has left me with a bod that looks like a
railroad map. One scar that runs vertically down the midline of my
body has been opened and closed and opened again six times, over a
period of fifteen years. Now, you might expect that so many surgeries
in the midsection would result in total obliteration of one's navel.
Much to my surprise, every time the surgeons went in, they managed to
sidestep my navel, sometimes by only a few millimeters.
Not being of a surgical turn of mind, I was baffled by this. So, after
about my fourth surgery in this area, I asked the surgeon outright,
"Why do you guys keep sparing my navel?"
The surgeon's answer was simple. The navel, after birth, serves no
real purpose other than as a handy lint-repository (and possibly as
something into which to gaze while meditating). But apparently many
patients get really upset if their navel is expunged. It's bad enough
to have a belly crisscrossed by scar tissue, but some folks seem to
become emotionally distraught by the sudden disappearance of their
navels. Thus most docs try very hard to avoid being 'navel
destroyers'. That is the inside dope on the matter, from the mouth of
the late Byron Steele, M.D., one of the finest surgeons ever to wield
A navel can be quite useful as an entry-point for various kinds of
laparascopic surgeries, but other than that convenience, I've found no
evidence that having a navel offers a person any medical advantages.
It's strictly a cosmetic thing.
The Internet offers little source material on this; I hope my personal
experience and Dr. Steele's explanation are adequate.
Here's some of the most interesting navel-related info that I could find:
"Scaling our attention from the global back down to the personal, the
navel is also a figurative and spiritual focus for inward-looking
people. Since it serves no biological purpose after birth, the navel
only acts as a gatherer of lint and a magnet for musings. So one who
finds his or her spirituality in the center of his own body is dubbed
an 'omphalogian,' and as a focal point of yoga poses, the navel marks
the place where breath emerges, as well as the balancing point.
Sigmund Freud believed that an unraveling of a dream's meaning could
be located at its navel: the place where the content of the dream
connects with its psychic significance. And even Saint Thomas Aquinas
recognized this doubled character of the belly button, seeing it as
the 'bodily metaphor for spiritual things.' Navel gazing, then, could
be considered the most profound of human activities."
An odd combination of a Zen parable and a vaudeville joke:
A Navel Encounter
An entertaining page of bellybutton trivia by a woman who doesn't have one:
All About Bellybuttons
This is the best I could find as online backup for my paraphrase of Dr. Steele:
"The umbilicus is an important aesthetic landmark and its absence or
deformity may be associated with poor self-image... Although the navel
is a functionless depressed scar, it represents an important and
Results of umbilicoplasty for bladder exstrophy
So there we have it: what Britney Spears regards as a neat-o place to
put a piece of jewelry is just "a functionless depressed scar" to
members of the medical profession. It's all in the perception, isn't
it? Who knows, I might seem mighty functionless and depressed to
someone like Britney. And so it goes.