Guide to Belly Button Piercing

Benna Crawford
Belly Piercing

Maybe you've got an "innie," reasonably flat abs and a yen for belly bling. That makes you the perfect candidate for navel piercing. However, even if you're sporting a bit of a muffintop or your "innie" is more of an "outie," belly button piercing adds glam and glitter to your mid-section. A professional piercer can guide your decision.

Selecting Your Body Jewelry

Picking out the jewelry is the fun part. Before you get pierced, though, pay close attention to the materials used in the piece of body jewelry you select. Any metal used in a piercing is going to come in contact with body fluids that could cause it to rust, tarnish or corrode, so it's very important to choose your jewelry carefully, especially for a fresh naval piercing.

The best materials for a successful piercing include non-corrosive, non-allergenic metals and one alternative.

  • Surgical stainless steel: This metal is one of the safest choices for body jewelry. You'll never have to worry about deterioration or an allergic reaction, unless you actually have metal allergies.
  • Surgical titanium: Titanium is the material used for denture implant posts. If it can hold up to saliva, it will hold up to pretty much anything else.
  • Tygon plastic: This is a good alternative for people who are allergic to metal.
  • Solid 14K gold: An elegant and beautiful choice, but remember that gold is a soft metal that bends when it is warm. A gold belly ring might not be your best choice for tanning and beach days.

Avoid materials that trigger allergies, tarnish and corrode. Jewelry made from the following is often cheaper but the risk of infections or discoloration is a high price to pay for a cute bargain.

  • Nickel
  • Sterling silver
  • Bone jewelry
  • Bamboo
  • Gold and silver electroplated jewelry

Belly Button Piercing Procedure

Naval piercing

You've selected your first belly button ring, and now you're ready for the actual procedure. The next few minutes are the most harrowing of the process, but even though everyone has their own personal pain threshold, this piercing is not as painful as it looks.

  • Naturally, you have chosen a licensed shop with autoclave sterilization and impeccable sanitary standards. You want a fabulous new piercing, not an infection.
  • The piercing room should look immaculately clean; the chair needs a paper or plastic cover to protect it and to catch any body fluids. A shop concerned with healthy procedures will feature a nearby sink and disinfectant cleanser.
  • Your piercing professional begins by washing his/her hands thoroughly. Next step is pulling on a fresh pair of surgical gloves and a mask. Strict hygiene lowers the possibility of transmitting blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
  • Once your navel is exposed, it's scrubbed with a surgical wash to sterilize the area. It isn't necessary to apply a topical anesthetic. This is a quick pinch, not an hours-long elaborate tattoo. Ask your piercer about topical anesthetics when you make your appointment, if you are really concerned about pain.
  • The piercer then punctures the skin around the belly button with a surgical needle and threads your jewelry into place. You will feel some pain, but most people describe it as a momentary pinch or prick, similar to an ear piercing.
  • Once the body jewelry is inserted, expect another brief surgical wash, a pat dry, and you're finished!

Caring for Your New Piercing

Remember, your piercing is just like any other wound that needs to be cared for and protected.

  • Always wash your hands before touching your piercing. There's no faster way to infect a fresh piercing than by fingering it with dirty hands.
  • Avoid fiddling with your new piercing. It's natural to feel preoccupied with your new goodie, but moving the jewelry around can add extra irritation at the site. Just keep telling yourself, "Look, but don't touch." Also, avoid wearing clothing that rubs against the area.
  • Wash the piercing no more than twice a day with a liquid soap. Make sure to wash your hands first. Gently work the soap around the jewelry, moving it as little as possible. Washing a belly button piercing too often can irritate the skin more than necessary, so once or twice daily should be sufficient. Always pat dry, never rub.
  • Avoid swimming and tub baths until you are completely healed. Talk to your piercer about how to safely cover your navel piercing if you don't want to wait six months to a year to hit the pool. Be smart and schedule a belly button piercing in the fall, after beach season, for maximum healing time.
  • A sea salt soak relieves a sore piercing. Mix about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in eight ounces of water. Bend over slightly and press the entire rim of the cup around your belly piercing, then bend back, and allow the water to soak the entire area for one or two minutes, then pat dry. You can repeat this procedure up to three times a day as needed.
Belly piercing
  • Expect your navel piercing to take as long as twelve months to completely heal. Once the outer area is healed, the inside of the piercing still takes a while to toughen up until you no longer feel any twinges of pain.

Signs of Infection

Despite your best efforts and proper aftercare, the piercing could become red, warm and irritated - all signs of possible infection. It's normal to see clear fluid leaking from a fresh piercing, but a yellowish-green coloring accompanied by a foul odor means it's likely infected. Should your belly button piercing become infected, leave your jewelry in place. If you remove it, your piercing will close over, trapping the infection inside where it will continue to grow. Keeping the belly button ring in place allows the fluids to keep draining. See your physician if there are any complications or if the infection doesn't clear up with regular cleaning.

Prepare to Be Pierced

Make sure your navel is a good candidate for piercing, choose a qualified professional piercer and a high quality piece of body jewelry, and follow through with your aftercare. All of this should result in an awesome navel piercing you'll be proud to show off.

Guide to Belly Button Piercing