In 1993, the rock band Aerosmith launched the music video for “Cryin’,” which became so popular it ended up winning MTV’s Music Video of the Year award. As defining as this was for Aerosmith, it is also a major part of piercing history and it’s all due to Alicia Silverstone’s belly button. In this video, there is a staged scene of her getting her navel pierced. This was the first time the procedure had been displayed for such a large audience, let alone national television. This caused flocks of women to get their belly buttons pierced in an effort to be just like Alicia Silverstone. And who can forget the famed navels of Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?
Although it’s 2022, the 90s are back. Millennials and Gen-Zers have made the belly piercing popular again. If you’re thinking about getting yours pierced, here’s all you should know.
Types of Belly Piercings
It used to be that there was only one type of navel piercing. However, with advancements in the piercing industry, there are now other placements that can accommodate those who wouldn’t traditionally be eligible for a navel piercing.
The different types of belly piercings include:
- Traditional: This is the navel piercing that many traditionally think of when they think of belly piercings. This goes through the center of either the tissue above or below the navel.
- Floating: This newer type of belly piercing is great for those whose anatomy creases whenever they sit or bend. It’s also great for those whose anatomy wouldn’t be able to accommodate a small gem or ball end because it’s too small or closed. The only things that make this piercing different than the traditional one are the fact that it’s typically placed so that it is deeper on the underside of the navel and the type of jewelry worn. Instead of a traditional curved barbell, the jewelry worn in a floating belly piercing is typically longer and the bottom end is either a flat disc, small bead, or a bead that is flat on one side. While the piercing isn’t really floating, it gives the illusion that it is.
Belly Piercing Placement
Regardless of the type of belly piercing you get, its placement will always be through the tissue surrounding your navel. However, since everyone’s anatomy is different, the exact placement will always differ from body to body. Let’s take a traditional vertical belly piercing, which goes through the tissue in the center and on the top of the navel. However, there needs to be enough skin there to pinch. If your navel is flat; your skin in the area isn’t supple; you don’t have a lip above your navel, we recommend opting for a different piercing because the piercer won’t be able to perform a belly piercing. Additionally, if your skin in the area isn’t flexible, there is a higher likelihood that the piercing will migrate.
You can also get the bottom of your belly button pierced. This placement only works if you have a distinct flap at the bottom of your navel.
Elayne Angel, author of The Piercing Bible, suggests that your piercer evaluate the tissue while you’re standing, sitting, and reclining. Not only does this help them make sure the area pierced will accommodate the movement between each position, but it also helps them determine what size jewelry you will need.
Types of Jewelry for Belly Piercings
The navel piercing is often referred to as a belly ring. Did you know this is due to people actually wearing rings in their piercings? Back in the 90s, when the piercing was popularized, the mass production of body jewelry didn’t even exist. Because ring-style jewelry was used for earlobes, it was more readily available and was what many piercers in the 90s were placing in belly piercings.
Today, wearing ring-style jewelry is only recommended if you have a deep belly button with a distinct lip. Instead, curved barbells are most often used. This is because adding a tiny bit extra length to them helps accommodate the body’s movements.
These are a variety of curved barbells. The only thing that makes them different is the fact that the bottom protrudes out further. This can be helpful if your piercing is deep; it helps make the bottom part of the jewelry remain visible.
Who Is Not Eligible for A Belly Piercing?
As we mentioned above, Elayne Angel recommends that your piercer evaluate you as you’re sitting, standing, and reclining to ensure the way your body folds and expands is suitable for this piercing. When it comes to eligibility for this piercing, it comes down to how your navel is configured and not your weight.
That being said, there are some instances where your body might not be best for a belly piercing. These include:
- If your navel folds in and is no longer visible when you sit
- If you have a horizontal crease where your navel is when you stand
- If you have diabetes and have excess weight around your navel—this is because excess abdominal fat diminishes the blood supply and if you have diabetes it will make you more prone to serious complications during the healing process
- If you have an outie belly button—first, an outie belly button could be a remnant of the umbilical cord which means it could still be attached to the interior of your abdomen.
- If it is pierced and becomes infected, the infection could easily spread to your internal organs which causes major health risks. Secondly, an outie belly button could be the result of an umbilical hernia which means there is a weakness or hole where your small intestines can protrude from. If you accidentally pierce through the small intestine, it can be life-threatening.
- If you’ve had an abdominoplasty—during this procedure, they typically need to remove the navel and place it again after the skin has been pulled taut. This means that the area is less vascular and it will be harder for it to heal. Additionally, the skin might have been pulled so taut that there isn’t enough tissue to pierce through.
- If you’ve had a laparoscopy and the surgical scar didn’t heal all the way—often, laparoscopy scars that didn’t fully heal will secrete fluid. This creates an open channel for bacteria to spread into the abdominal cavity, which leads to serious health concerns.
Does a Belly Piercing Hurt?
While we cannot speak for everyone, as each person has a different pain tolerance, many people state that it doesn’t hurt too much. Rather than pain, people have expressed that they feel discomfort for a brief moment.
What Is the Belly Piercing Procedure Like?
During the piercing procedure, you’ll be asked to recline at a slight angle or lay completely flat. This will be after the piercer has evaluated your anatomy and marked your navel with where the piercing will be placed.
Next, your piercer will insert the needle through the tissue. Some piercers use a receiving tube or forceps to hold the skin in the area. Some piercers freehand the piercing. You’ll likely be asked to inhale and exhale on the count of three as the needle goes through the tissue.
Next, the piercer will place the jewelry and you’ll have a brand new belly piercing.
How Long Does It Take for a Belly Piercing to Heal?
On average, it takes around 6 to 9 months for a belly piercing to heal. However, it can take longer for it to heal. This is because the navel is a location that is prone to friction and irritation. This is why it’s important to know the signs it is irritated so you can get some relief knowing it is not infected.
The following are all common during the healing process:
- Discoloration (pink, brown, or purple looking skin)
- Secretion of clear or cloudy fluids
- Tissue hardening
Bumps near your piercing can happen due to trauma, friction, or too much pressure on the area. If you want to heal the piercing still, you will need to figure out what is causing the bump: improperly sized jewelry; trauma, friction, or pressure; or jewelry made from a metal that can cause allergies.
One type of bump that can occur is a hypergranulation or hypertrophic scarring, which is commonly mistaken for a keloid. Hypergranulation occurs when the skin around the piercing overdevelops. It usually appears dark red and feels like raw hamburger in terms of texture.
It should also be noted that belly piercings often go through cycles as they heal. They will seem like they’re getting better and then all of a sudden seem like they’re getting worse. This is normal. Just keep continuing with the aftercare process and be patient.
What Aftercare Can You Do to Help Your Belly Piercing Heal Better?
Because clothing has a good chance of causing friction near the piercing or getting caught on the jewelry, many piercers recommend that you wear loose-fitting garments or even just low-rise pants. You want to make sure the material of your clothes is breathable as well.
You can also sleep in the fetal position rather than on your stomach which helps prevent any possible irritation as it heals. You want to make sure that the area is free from moisture, so you want it to be as dry as possible. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wash your piercing, though!
You also need to be extremely careful about exercise and movement of the area while the piercing heals. This means avoiding doing sit-ups and crunches as well as any other movements or exercises that involve creasing the abdomen. Sex is also something that can cause trauma to the area; one way you can prevent as much trauma as possible is by wearing a waterproof bandage. This keeps the piercing dry and as locked into place as possibly comfortable to do so.
That About Sums It Up
Now that you’re educated about belly piercings, it’s time for you to go get yours (only if you want one, that is)! After you’re all healed and ready to change out jewelry, be sure to look through Urban Body Jewelry’s collection of dangle belly button rings.