Navel piercings are one of the most popular piercings that piercers offer. When they first gained popularity, it was mostly teenage girls aiming to look like the top female pop stars of the 90s. However, people of all ages and genders get their navels pierced.
Belly Button Anatomy & Piercing Placement
A navel piercing is an anatomy-dependent piercing. This means that you must have suitable anatomy to get this piercing done; the piercer needs to ensure that they can pierce through the inside of the navel so the piercing will heal properly. If the piercing is just through the skin of the stomach, it won’t heal correctly.
Each belly button is unique, and some people have what are considered “advanced navels,” or those that can have a variance in anatomy and require a high skill level to perform so that they’re well placed and can heal well. This does not mean that they’re more difficult to do, just that they need a piercer with the professional know-how and experience to do them correctly.
Advanced belly button piercings consist of:
- Outies These belly buttons are extremely common, but they require a bit more skill when it comes to ensuring they’re placed properly. When your piercer does an anatomy assessment, they should make sure you have the proper navel shelf to support the piercing.
- Post-pregnancy: When the stomach stretches during pregnancy, it can end up permanently altering the skin. Similar to people who experience permanent stretch marks after pregnancy, some people have loose or sagging skin around or on their navels. While this doesn’t necessarily affect the ability for these types of navels to be pierced, it does affect what jewelry it needs to initially be pierced with.
- Surgically altered:Some surgical procedures, such as laparoscopic surgery. C-sections, tummy tucks, etc. result in a surgically altered belly button. In these instances, there is a possibility that the changed tissue has too much scarring or is no longer viable to be pierced. This is because scar tissue decreases blood flow, which will make it more difficult for a new belly button piercing to heal. However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot get your navel pierced; instead, you may just have to make sure you go to a piercer who has experience with reconstructed navels and knows what to take into consideration to properly pierce them.
The bottom line is that when you sit, stand, and lay down, the bottom of the piercing needs to rest safely and comfortably inside your navel.
Belly Button Piercing Jewelry
When getting your belly button pierced, the standard size jewelry is a 14 gauge. This is an industry standard; there is rarely 12 gauge jewelry for this piercing.
The gauge number is referring to the thickness of the bar. If the bar were any thinner, it could cause irritation to the piercing. For example, it could cause the barbell to cut at the piercing or be pulled out.
The length of the bar is typically 7/16”; it is a little long to accommodate for any swelling, drainage, and healing.
After your navel piercing is fully healed, you can visit a professional piercer to change the barbell out to what is comfortable and the right size for you. For example, some people use a 5/16”, while other people prefer 7/16”. It depends on the style and type of belly button jewelry you’re looking for.
The Belly Button Piercing Process
Because a belly button piercing is anatomy dependent, your professional piercer will begin by looking at your navel anatomy and ensuring it is suitable for the piercing. Next, your piercer will clean and sterilize your navel with antiseptic to make sure there are no bacteria on the surface area.
Your piercer will mark the piercing placement to ensure it is lined up properly and you are happy with where it will sit. Then, using a hollow needle, your piercer will pierce through your navel and insert the jewelry moments after.
When your piercing experience is complete, your piercer will discuss proper aftercare with you.
It is not recommended that you get pierced with a piercing gun because it can cause more trauma to the area, damage the tissue, and increase the chances of infection. Unlike needles, piercing guns cannot be fully sanitized using an autoclave, which means there’s a greater risk of spreading bacteria and bloodborne pathogens.
How Much Does a Belly Button Piercing Hurt?
Every person is different and the pain level will vary from person to person. In general, the belly button piercing falls in the middle as far as pain goes.
Belly Button Piercing Aftercare
It’s important that you follow proper aftercare during the healing process. However, with proper aftercare, the healing process is usually 6 to 8 months.
The first thing you should do before touching you piercing is to wash your hands. This is to ensure that you don’t pass any bacteria on your hands to your healing piercing.
Next, you’re going to want to clean your piercing once or twice a day with a sterile saline solution. You can purchase pre-made ones, such as the NeilMed Aftercare Spray. Simply spray the solution on your belly button once in the morning and once in the evening. You can wipe the area with a dry paper towel.
It’s also advisable to wear low-rise pants and/or loose, breathable clothing to ensure that your clothes don’t press or rub against your new piercing. It also helps your piercing get proper air circulation as it heals.
You’re also going to want to avoid any exercise that includes a lot of movement in your stomach region. Definitely avoid doing any sit-ups until after your piercing has healed, as the movement will irritate the piercing and prolong the healing process.
Additionally, if you sleep on your stomach, try to sleep in the fetal position on your side while the piercing heals.
During the healing process, and this applies to any body piercing you may get, you don’t want to apply any harsh chemicals, such as Neosporin, Bactine, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide. These products kill everything, including what is trying to heal; they break apart the scabbing that you’re trying to keep intact.
The use of such products can lead to:
- excessive scar tissue
- postponed healing
Additionally, you want to avoid all public bodies of water, such as pools, Jacuzzis, the beach, ponds, lakes, etc., while your piercing is healing so you don’t introduce new bacteria and cause an infection.
How Long Does a Belly Piercing Take to Heal?
Typically, navel piercings take anywhere from 6 months to a year to heal, but this varies from person to person. The reason for the longer healing time is the fact that the abdomen is avascular, meaning it lacks blood supply. It is also subject to the most stress due to the normal movement of the body and friction from clothing.
Another big part of healing the piercing is how well you take care of your body overall. This means focusing on your total health, nutrition, and sleep schedule.
After 4 to 6 weeks, the piercing might not be as swollen and appear healed, but it is still healing. While this may seem like a long time to heal a body piercing, following the proper aftercare will make it go smoothly and quickly.
It is a good idea to wear loose fitting clothing for the first few days as tight-fitting clothing can pull or rub against your new piercing. This might seem like a long healing time, but with the proper after care and attention it should go smoothly!
How to Avoid Allergic Reactions
It’s not uncommon for people to have allergic reactions to metal. For example, piercing jewelry made out of nickel is a known culprit for people with sensitive skin. Therefore, when you get pierced, you want to ensure the jewelry is high quality.
Types of high quality metal that will prevent allergic reactions include:
- ASTM f-137 Surgical steel
- ASTM f-136 Titanium
- Solid 14- or 18-karat gold
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing problems or have questions about your navel piercing please see a professional piercer or a medical doctor.