Navel Piercings - The Lowdown
Navel piercings have been one of the most popular piercing choices since the 1990's. They are aesthetically pleasing and, due to their location, you can choose when you want to show them off and when you want to keep them covered. There are lots of pretty navel jewellery options which you can experiment with once your piercing has healed.
Navel piercings is usually quick to heal, having no issues at all but due to the nature of surface piercings, there is always a small risk that the piercing may have a delayed healing process and can be at risk of infection. However, provided you have your piercing done by a reputable piercer and follow the aftercare instructions correctly, this piercing should heal relatively quickly and smoothly.
Unfortunately, like most piercings, not everyone is suited to belly button piercings, for example if you have an 'outie' or if you have a navel that closes or creases when you sit down, you may not be anatomically suitable for this type of piercing. Your piercer will be able to tell you whether you are a suitable candidate and also which type of navel piercing is best for you.
Typically, your piercer will make a mark about half an inch above your belly button, giving you the opportunity to check the placement.
The piercer will then pass the cannula (a hollow needle with a thin tube attached) through the top of the navel where the mark is place, before pulling it through the belly button cavity and threading the jewellery through. The piercer may use a curved piercing needle and will insert curved body jewellery such as a barbell.
The majority of people report that they feel only a slight discomfort or sense of pressure during the piercing, however some people have more sensitive navel areas and report the piercing to be more painful. In fact, some people claim that the cleaning process can tickle quite a lot, which can be the worst part!
It is also important to remember that piercing pain is entirely subjective and that each individual will have a different experience of the amount of pain caused by a navel piercing.
This form of piercing generally takes approximately 6-9 months to heal but can sometimes take up to 12 months or more. The healing process takes longer than other piercings due to the lack of blood supply in the abdomen and the area being under stress from movement and friction. Belly button piercings are not necessarily more susceptible to infections but there may be more scope for picking one up because of the long healing process. It is normal to experience some swelling, irritation and clear/white discharge during the initial healing process, however if you notice any yellow/green discharge, painful lumps at the piercing site or excessive soreness, do not hesitate to contact your piercer for an assessment.
Surface piercings are also slightly more at risk to migration and rejection than other piercing types.
Typically, a Navel piercing will have a 14 gauge bar but depending on your anatomy the piercer may advise smaller or larger jewellery. Activities that disturb the navel tissue can increase the risk of irritation so people who lead a sporty or active lifestyle might be prone to this. This irritation can be prevented by wearing a plastic eye patch over the piercing when participating in physical activity. Swimming should be avoided throughout the whole healing process and even after that a waterproof navel protector should be worn.
Aftercare protocols should be followed for at least 6 months. Make sure that you:
- Wear loose, breathable clothing to avoid friction. It's best to avoid tight jeans and belts.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Don't change your jewellery yourself for at least 6 months, see your piercer instead.
- Avoid elaborate jewellery until your piercing has completely healed.
- Use a sterile saline solution or a sea salt mixture for cleaning. Be sure to read all instructions and care guidelines before cleaning the navel piercing. Alcohol should never be used, as it continues to reopen the wound and can actually prolong healing.
- When cleaning the area, always wash hands thoroughly with water before beginning. Soak the area in saline or salt water twice a day for 5+ minutes. Always rinse the navel piercing area after cleansing to remove excess solution, skin or bacteria. Avoid soap.
- Avoid touching or poking the area.
If in the future you want to stop wearing jewellery in your navel piercing, it may not always seal up but the hole will get smaller. It is safe to leave the piercing without jewellery once it has healed, even if the hole does not seal up. Extremely rapid weight gain or loss during healing can cause more irritation and stop the piercing from settling so please see your piercer for advice on retaining or retiring from piercing during pregnancy.
There are several different types of jewellery that can be worn in the navel piercing. The most popular are surgical steel, metals or sterling silver. Piercing usually occurs with a curved barbell which should be kept in place until the piercing has healed completely. More and more decorative jewellery is being offered, making your choice even broader.
The initial jewellery used is a curved bar, J-curve, or in certain circumstances a ring. This varies depending on your anatomy but your piercer will be able to recommend the best option for you.
Once your piercing has healed, you can be really creative and can find some high quality navel bars featuring everything from simple circular barbells and pretty jewels to skulls and fairies!
Take a look at these options for some Navel Piercing inspiration:
Article Disclaimer: The information contained here within is based on our experience as one of the UK’s largest piercing chains. Please note that each individual’s experiences will be subjective and therefore each person will have a different experience of pain, healing and maintenance. For more information, please view our article guides terms and conditions page