What to consider before getting a belly button piercing.
Contemplating a Belly Piercing? Here's Your Essential Guide.
When you imagine that stunning piercing - the shine, the dangle - what are you mostly drawn to? Is it the look or the myriad of 'what ifs' that play in your mind? Maybe you're just a bit worried about the pain.
The art of a perfect navel piercing is in the details. It's not just about beautiful jewelry but how it looks when “you” put it on. Your unique anatomy, the natural curve of your navel ridge, or the depth and shape of your belly button, influence the final look. And, even more importantly, the piercer's technique and expertise have the final say.
Did you know, there isn’t a standard piercing technique. There may be standard jewelry, but there is nothing standard about your anatomy or what the piercer does when they pick up the needle. So, here’s a question, how would you know any of this? Most are focused on the pain and how quick it is to get pierced. And make no mistake it is quick and painless, but the agony of caring for an improper piercing that never quite heals or that scar you’re left with when it migrates, or rejects doesn’t go away so quickly.
If you’re stuck on the ‘what if’s’ – you should be!
What if the jewelry doesn't sit in the piercing quite as you'd imagined? Is that even a thing, should it sit a certain way. Or wait, did that get you thinking - oh yeah, I like it when it looks like that. For example, when the bar is mostly concealed, and you only see the top and bottom gem, or maybe you’ve learned to love the look of migration, the barbell hanging by just a bit of skin and mostly exposed?
So, here’s the question of questions - shouldn’t the piercer know everything? Well yeah, the piercer is your guide and should consult you on all things anatomy and what to expect. But how would you know you’re getting the right advice and you can trust them to put a needle through you?
And if you’re thinking, why does this guide have so many questions, shouldn’t a guide just lay it out. That’s the point, this is about getting you to think about this in a way that you would not be able to if you were just given the answer.
So, let’s channel the detective within:
Embracing this curious mindset will empower you to not just get a piercing but to embark on a well-informed and fulfilling piercing journey. Remember, it's not just about looking good, but feeling good and confident in your choices.
Why don’t we start with a brief overview of your anatomy:
We’re all unique. Your navel's anatomy, particularly the 'ridge or shelf,’ is central to how the piercing will sit. Before anything else, identify your ridge - it's that curved boundary where your belly button starts to fold inwards. (see picture below) Some have a pronounced ridge, meaning there’s enough tissue and space behind it for the jewelry to sit comfortably, while others are shallower and slopes in.
If your navel ridge is not defined and looks more like a valley than the edge of a cliff, you may not be able to get a piercing. It will end up being surface level or shallow and have very difficult time healing. Think of the curved oval shape of a barbell and the angle of the top and bottom gems (see below). If the piercing sits at the surface, tight clothing will easily press into the jewelry and rub against it. This puts pressure on your piercing. For this reason, a piercing will have a difficult time healing. It will easily irritate. Some navels such as an outie, cannot be pierced for completely different reasons. And you should also consider how much your navel closes when you sit. This simply means your jewelry choices will be limited. For example, you may need a floating belly ring, one that has a disk at the bottom and not a gem.
Get to know your anatomy.
Piercing Placement Matters:
The placement of the piercing, especially in relation to the ridge, is quite important. The entry and exit holes' position will dictate how the jewelry hangs or looks. For instance, if the bottom entry hole is right on the ridge, the jewelry might hang differently than if it's placed above or below. Make sure to discuss this with your piercer.
The bar should be mostly concealed after you’re pierced, and the bottom gem should be tucked in nicely in your navel. The bar should be long enough to allow for swelling. But if it’s too long it will hinder your healing, cause it to heal crooked, migrate or worst.
The “Ouch” Factor:
A teeny sting, a small pinch, and voila! The fear? Mostly in our heads. It's like ripping off a band-aid for many.
Ask and Ask Again:
The right questions can make all the difference. What should you ask your piercer?
- How many navel piercings have they performed. No offence but if they’re a trainee – you’re the test subject.
- Do they see any limitations or potential challenges i.e., your ridge is not well defined?
- Where are they planning to place the piercing i.e., above, below or on the ridge, how do they ensure your piercing is not surface level or shallow?
- Get them talking about their piercing technique i.e., do they measure with a ruler, a caliper or even the jewelry? If they don’t, how do they know it will be done right, and the amount of bar showing is not excessive?
- Do they have any care tips for you i.e., some magic potion that will get you to heal quickly?
How can you be sure you’ve chosen the right piercer?
A professional piercer will be calm and collected. They will guide you through all you need to know. They should be eager to answer your questions because they enjoy what they do. But for them, it's routine. Don’t be surprised if they’re quick to get started. The more questions you ask, the more you’ll get them thinking about “you”. You’re telling them you care.
Pay close attention to how they answer your questions about placement and their measurement techniques. If they're vague, it might mean they plan to "eyeball" it and hope for the best. Some experts are very skilled and get it right almost every time. But do you want to risk being that one piercing that's slightly off? If they don't mark your piercing site, there will always be variances.
Avoid an awkward situation! If you're uneasy and nervous, it could be because they've answered quickly or downplayed the significance of your questions. Think about it; you're indirectly assessing their competency. If they appear anxious, overly confident, or dismissive, that's NOT the piercer for you.
So, what to do? Walk away if you’re uncomfortable. There’s no shame in protecting yourself.
Some shops don't offer jewelry options; they choose for you. You should be concerned about this. If the jewelry is made of titanium or surgical steel, ensure it is certified and sourced from an APP (Association of Professional Piercers) approved manufacturer. However, be aware that surgical steel degrades over time and is not recommended for sensitive skin. Should you assume you're not sensitive? Sensitivities to materials can develop over time. Just because you don’t have them today doesn't mean you won’t in the future. Why take that risk? Another thing to consider: your piercing will heal much faster with 14k solid gold jewelry that contains no allergens. Budget is a consideration, of course, so choose wisely. There’s no harm in starting with titanium and switching to solid gold later.
Clarify this with the shop before you even book the appointment. In fact, never walk off the street without an appointment. Many professional shops won't accept walk-ins anyway, but this is also a chance for you to ask questions. For example: "Do you offer titanium jewelry? Is it implant grade and sourced through an APP (or equivalent) approved manufacturer?"
Aftercare and Healing:
Your piercing requires care. The healing duration varies; for some, it's a matter of a few months, while others might need up to a year. The way you care for your piercing is crucial. Don’t sleep on your piercing and avoid applying any pressure at all. Whether it's due to tight clothing or working out, understand that the first two to three weeks are critical. If you want your piercing to heal properly, treat it gently during this period. However, this doesn't mean you should seek out magic potions or creams; let your body do its natural healing. Avoid unnecessary treatments. Simply use sterile saline, spray the entry and exit holes, and pat dry.
How does your piercer discuss aftercare? Ask them during the planning phase of your piercing not after. If they're experienced, they've seen complications and will offer the proper guidance. If they’re quick to remedies and potions, maybe they’re not so in the now and up to date with the latest discoveries. You should know there’s lots of conflicting information even among doctors and industry experts. Odd, right? If they’re not in alignment, how would you know what’s right or wrong.
Remember, choose your piercer and jewelry wisely and care for your piercing. Your body knows to do the rest.
Be Prepared for Minor Setbacks:
Occasionally, small bumps may appear around a piercing, and this is not uncommon. If you frequently move your jewelry or accidentally bump your piercing against something hard, it can result in irritation or a bump. While piercing trauma is a primary cause, but often bumps can also indicate that you're not caring for your piercing diligently enough, or even worse, that your body is reacting negatively to the jewelry. Being aware of these signs allows you to address them promptly.
While the piercing process might be affordable, high-quality jewelry truly makes a difference in the healing process and overall look. Exquisite jewelry isn’t about how intricate the jewely design, but rather how you feel when you wear it. It is you that’s exquisite because your comfortable wearing jewelry that feels good to begin with. There’s much you need to consider about the type of jewelry you buy although the focus of this guide is about what to consider when getting your piercing so make sure to read our other articles.
Getting your navel pierced is exciting. But remember, it's a blend of fun, informed decisions, and understanding your anatomy. So, gear up with knowledge, ask the right questions, and soon enough, there’ll be a whole new confident you with an exquisite piercing to flaunt.
XOXO ‘til next time Alyssa Jolie