Belly button piercing has gained popularity as it's gotten more and more mainstream exposure, particularly since the early 1990s, when several supermodels first popularized this type of body jewelry. Why are so many girls getting their belly buttons pierced? Possibly because it's a sexy way of defying authority? Or maybe it's because there are so many fun belly button rings available, and what girl doesn't love to shop for cute jewelry? Many girls just want to emulate their favorite pop stars and fashion divas, too. Whatever the reason, ladies of all ages are now getting their belly buttons pierced, making this piercing that was once considered an alternative venture a mainstream practice now. Belly button piercing is here to stay!
What's Involved With a Belly Button Piercing?
Unless you have an "outtie" belly button or are getting a non-standard navel piercing, your piercer will likely insert the needle approximately 1/2" above your belly button, and then pull it out through the belly button cavity. Most likely, a curved piercing needle will be used and will be followed with a bent barbell or possibly a captive bead ring. Bent barbells make ideal belly button jewelry, because the shape is a good fit for the area being pierced. Also, a bent barbell or traditional belly button ring (i.e. a bent barbell with a decorative end) is less likely to put undue stress on the fistula, which is the hole where you were pierced. Reducing the pressure on the healing fistula will increase your chances of having a successful belly button piercing that doesn't slowly migrate out.
Belly button piercings, like eyebrow and other surface piercings, are more prone to migration/rejection than other piercings. That makes the placement of a belly button piercing and the gauge of your starter jewelry important to a belly piercing's success. You need to be pierced just far enough back from the lip of the belly button, and you should start off with at least a 14g belly ring. The heavier the gauge, the less likely the jewelry will be to migrate.
The Belly Button Piercing Healing Process
Belly button piercing healing times vary widely from person to person. There's a lot of movement in this area, since your body essentially hinges at your waist, and that can keep your new navel piercing in a perpetual state of irritation. Additionally, the waistbands of pants and skirts are liable to rub against your piercing throughout the day, further irritating an area that's already sensitive just from being pierced. Belly buttons also tend to be a trap for lint and dirt, making dedicated navel piercing aftercare extremely important. If you keep your belly button piercing clean and do what you can to reduce friction by wearing low-waisted pants and skirts and generally loose-fitting clothing, your new belly piercing will heal faster and better. It may appear to be fully healed within 4-6 weeks, but it can take 3-6 months and sometimes up to a year for navel piercings to completely heal.
During the belly button piercing healing process, be sure to follow these belly button piercing aftercare guidelines as closely as possible to minimize the chances of your jewelry migrating/rejecting, promote healing and avoid an infection:
- Keep your belly button clean! We don't recommend washing your belly button piercing with soap, but it's good to let warm water run over it in the shower, and it won't hurt if some sudsy water washes over it while you clean the rest of your upper body. Sea salt solution is a gentler cleanser, and the saline will encourage healing. You can make your own by boiling water for at least 5 minutes to sterilize it, measuring out 1 cup into a heat-safe container, stirring in 1/4 tsp. sea salt (not table salt, which contains iodine), letting the mixture cool, and then applying it to your belly button piercing with a series of clean cotton balls at least 2 times per day. Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-mixed solution like Recovery Aftercare Spray or H2Ocean to spritz on your healing piercing a few times a day. To do a full sea salt solution soak with an aftercare spray, thoroughly saturate each cotton ball you apply to your piercing with the spray.
You may also consider carrying a little bottle of Recovery Aftercare Spray with you to spritz on in between full sea salt soaks. It's a saline solution that is very soothing to new piercings. It will help keep your belly button flushed of dirt and debris and moisturize the surrounding tissues.
- Be gentle when removing "crusties". Crusties are a natural part of the belly button piercing healing process. Your body's natural reaction to any piercing is to produce lymph, which is a clearish fluid that often dries to a whitish crust. In the past, piercers used to tell people to turn their jewelry a couple times a day to loosen up crusties, but that's no longer suggested because you can turn bacteria into the healing fistula, which can lead to an infected navel piercing. Instead, use cotton balls saturated with sea salt solution or even just warm water to soften the crusties, and then gently wipe them away.
- Don't change your jewelry prematurely. With so many pretty belly rings available, it can be tempting to change out your starter jewelry soon after having your navel pierced. Try to resist! The belly button ring you're pierced with should be extra long to account for swelling and to prevent undue pressure from being put on your healing piercing. Even if you have little to no swelling initially, you may have some before your belly piercing is fully healed. At any time, a little dirt can get trapped in the fistula and cause swelling and irritation, so it's best to just stick with the longer jewelry for at least the first few months. Also, just the process of changing jewelry can irritate a healing belly piercing, particularly if you're using externally-threaded belly button jewelry, which isn't recommended because it can scrape the delicate healing fistula.
- Do switch your jewelry if you're having an allergic reaction. Some people are more sensitive to certain body jewelry materials. A lot of cheap body jewelry has a high percentage of nickel in it, which is the metal most people are likely to have an allergic reaction to. For that reason, we highly recommend getting pierced with either a surgical steel belly ring or titanium navel jewelry. Titanium is the most inert metal that body jewelry's made out of, and therefore the material least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Opt for solid titanium jewelry, not coated titanium belly rings, for the best outcome. If you don't start out with a titanium or stainless steel belly ring and you start having an allergic reaction with redness and itching, then you should switch out your jewelry even if you've only had your piercing for a few days to a week. You may want to get your piercer to help you change your jewelry, though, since it can be difficult with a fresh piercing and since a new navel piercing is likely to heal up quickly if jewelry isn't re-inserted quickly enough.
- Avoid oils, balms and creams! These things can clog the healing fistula, potentially trapping in bacteria and leading to infection. If your skin is dry around your piercing, add a drop or two of tea tree oil to your sea salt solutions. It has natural antiseptic qualities and will help moisturize your skin. Just don't apply the oil directly to your piercing; always dilute it in sea salt solution (no more than 2-3 drops per cup of warm sea salt solution).
If at any point you start seeing streaky red lines or general redness around your belly piercing, you start running a fever, and/or the fistula starts oozing a thicker, yellowish, pus-like discharge, you likely have an infection and need to see a doctor for an antibiotic. Piercings can be irritated without being infected, so if you aren't sure, you can visit your piercer first to get his or her opinion. You can also post in the Painful Pleasures forum (preferably with belly button piercing pictures attached) to get the opinion of our knowledgeable moderators and other forum members who have navel piercings.
If you do go to the doctor for an antibiotic, don't let him or her bully you into taking out your jewelry. If you keep up with your belly button piercing care while taking the antibiotics, you should be able to keep your piercing. If you decide to take your jewelry out because of a navel piercing infection, continue doing sea salt solution soaks with a product like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray or a homemade sea salt solution 2 times per day until the fistula is fully closed.
My Belly Button Piercing Is Healed & I Want New Jewelry! Where Should I Start?
With the number of belly button rings we have, you're sure to find that special gold belly ring, silvery belly chain, diamond navel stud, cute animal charm belly ring, or other unique belly button ring you want. We offer a wide variety of belly button rings in one of the world's largest assortments of lengths, gauges and styles. Consider options like these:
- Acrylic Belly Rings will add some color to your wardrobe. Many of our acrylic belly rings come with balls in fun styles, dangly charms, and other cool ends.
- Bali Belly Rings from Indonesia come in intricate designs with pretty gems. Most of our Bali Belly Rings are sterling silver.
- Belly Chains are a fun enhancement to standard belly button rings. We sell belly chains that thread through navel rings as well as ones that can be worn even without a belly piercing.
- Crystal Explosion Belly Rings and Jeweled Belly Rings will add sparkle and pizazz to your outfits!
- If you're looking for unique belly button jewelry, check out our Fimo Belly Rings. These have fun clay-based decorations on them.
- For a more sophisticated look, check out our Gold Belly Rings with and without matching tops and dangles. Choose from 14k gold belly rings, white gold belly rings and more.
- Show your love of sports with an MLB Belly Ring or an NFL Belly Ring featuring the logo of your favorite baseball or football team!
- Let it all hang out with our Moving Dangles Navel Rings! These fun belly rings have dangle ends that will move with you.
- Navel Shields fill the belly button cavity and/or encircle it with an attractive charm that will really call attention to your navel piercing when you wear cropped shirts and bathing suits.
- If you're looking for a belly button piercing ring with some old-school charm, check out our Opal & Vintage Belly Rings.
- Express yourself with a Picture Logo Belly Ring that features a fun phrase like "Got Pot", a label like "Angel", or a cool icon like a heart or smiley face.
- Don't give up your belly ring just because you're pregnant! We have Pregnancy Belly Rings with extra-long shafts so you can comfortably wear a belly ring as your stomach expands to accommodate your growing baby.
- PTFE or BioFlex Flexible Belly Rings allow you to cut the shaft to the perfect length for you. Plus, they're made of a flexible material that's super comfortable to wear.
- Top-Down/Reverse Belly Button Rings are a cool alternative to traditional navel rings. The decorative part starts at the top of your piercing instead of at the bottom of the belly ring shaft. If you have a lower belly piercing, these are especially great types of belly rings to consider.
- Why settle for a plain bent barbell when you can shop our Unique Belly Button Rings to find a fun charm that suits your personality?
- Venus Hoops are attractive belly rings that fill the belly button and extend a bit beyond it. Each has a ball surrounded by a hoop that nestles into the belly button, as well as several dangling beads hanging from it.
- What's your sign? Show the world with a Zodiac Belly Ring!
- We offer a variety of Titanium Belly Rings and Surgical Steel Belly Rings like captive bead rings, bent barbells, and other designs. These are especially ideal for people with metal allergies.
- For more belly button piercing ring ideas, check out our Tips for Choosing Belly Rings article.
If you have questions not answered here, be sure to check out the Navel Piercings section of the Painful Pleasures forum, where you can read about other people's experiences and post your own questions and stories. You can also see belly button piercing pictures in our photo gallery.