Belly Button Piercing Guide

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 15, 2019
    Last Updated: January 13, 2021

When the sun is out and the bikinis are on, few things make you look hotter than a toned stomach highlighted by a belly button piercing. This is the kind of look you can sport all year long.

Plus, sexy belly button piercings aren’t going to go away anytime soon. If you want to learn all you can about this trend, our article will give you all the information you’ve ever wanted to know about belly button piercings.

You can even learn if you’re a good candidate for a belly button piercing or if you should consider another type of piercing instead, and if you’re a worrywart who is always concerned about complications, we’ve got the know-how on everything that can go wrong.

What Is A Belly Button Piercing?

A belly button piercing is a piercing that is done right around the navel area. Most belly piercings are done right above the belly button. The name is a little misleading since you actually don’t have your belly button pierced – just the skin surrounding it.

While it’s a reasonably straightforward piercing, you want to make sure to have a qualified professional do the job because if the piercing is placed too low or too high, it can cause problems. Additionally, there are nerves and blood vessels you’ll want to avoid having pierced in that area as well.

What Happens During A Belly Button Piercing?

Before any piercing happens, your piercer will take a look at your belly button to make sure it’s safe to go ahead with the procedure.

Although you would think anyone could have their belly button pierced, it doesn’t work like that.

People who have belly buttons that stick out can have big problems if their belly buttons are pierced. They usually have to pass on this type of piercing.

If your piercer says you can get this type of piercing, you can look at bling next.

You’ll look at the jewelry selection and pick the one you want to walk out of there wearing. Your piercer will have some advice on that matter too. They’ll have a better idea than you will about which type of jewelry will work best for you while you’re still healing. You can buy a second piece of jewelry to wear after you’ve fully healed too.

Before they begin with the actual procedure, your piercer should wash his hands. If you have to ask him to do that, it’s a bad indication that his safety standards aren’t as advanced as you want them to be. After he’s washed his hands, he should put on some disposable gloves to protect both of you.

After your shirt is lifted up, your piercer will clean and sterilize your navel with an antiseptic to eliminate any surface germs that might work their way into your fresh piercing.

After marking the area with a surgical marker, it’s go time. It’s too late to turn back now, so take a deep breath and get ready for the piercing to begin.

Your piercer will take a hollow needle and get to work. After a few seconds of stinging, your piercer will quickly insert the jewelry into the hole. Once the jewelry is in, the piercer will probably give you another quick swipe with the antiseptic. That’s it. You’ve made it through.

Before you leave his shop, your piercer will talk about aftercare instructions with you. The list of dos and don’ts that he gives you will be important to follow. You’ll heal a lot better and faster if you heed that advice so pay attention to what he tells you. If he doesn’t give you the rules in writing, jot them down so you remember.

If you end up forgetting some of what he told you, you can always call back later and ask for a recap. If he doesn’t have a written list, he should be expecting your call. You won’t be the only one who forgets oral instructions after making it through a piercing procedure.

How Much Do They Hurt?

Belly button piercings aren’t too bad on the old pain scale. They’re pretty comparable to earlobe piercings. Even if you aren’t known for your iron constitution, you should be able to handle this type of piercing.

The piercing part involving the needle goes really quickly. You’ll feel some stinging for a few seconds, but it isn’t as prolonged as some piercings, like daith piercings, are.

The belly area isn’t as sensitive either as many other piercing spots, like the nose, are. That means less pain and sensitivity will be involved. If you tend to worry about your discomfort, you can breathe easy when it comes to belly button piercings. You’ll be able to handle them.

As far as the aftercare goes, you’ll feel it for a while, but it won’t be an overwhelming pain. You can expect some soreness, but in a few days, most of that will be gone. If you’re new to piercings, this is a good one to start with.

How Much Do They Cost?

Belly button piercings are pretty affordable for most people. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 to have this service done.

There are a number of factors, though, that can influence how much you’ll pay. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you’ll want to consider these factors.

How Good Your Piercer Is

This section isn’t about the physical attractiveness of your piercer. When we talk about hot here, we’re really talking about how in-demand they are. If they have a following of loyal customers and great word of mouth, be prepared to reach deeper into your pockets for your belly button piercing.

They’ll be able to charge slightly more or, in some cases, even outrageous amounts for their skillset and popularity.

Where They Set Up Shop

You’ll pay dearly for your piercer’s location. If they are in a metropolis area, you’ll have to fork over a lot more cash than you would if they set up shop in a small town.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the piercer who opts to practice in a big city is any more skilled than the one located in a small town. It’s just that everything is more expensive in a big city like Chicago, when compared to a town that no one has ever heard of.

Your Jewelry Selection

While you can’t do anything about the fee your piercer charges, you can knock some money off of how much you pay on the day of your piercing by choosing more inexpensive jewelry.

You should never go with a cheap piece of jewelry that uses highly allergic metals like nickel though. Cheap jewelry won’t hold up well over the long term and may cause an allergic reaction. If that happens, you’ll have to spend more money to replace that jewelry.

Sterling silver isn’t the greatest choice either, even though it’s widely available in jewelry stores and at piercing parlors. Sterling silver can sometimes turn your skin a weird color and that’s not a good look when there are so many other great piercing metals available.

While you don’t want to buy the cheapest piece of jewelry you find, you also don’t have to go with gold or other precious metals. Surgical titanium is a strong and affordable metal that has a low allergy risk. As it can’t be corroded, titanium will also stand the test of time.

Stainless steel is also a good choice, as is tygon plastic, which is a great option for people with metal allergies.

Gold is also a metal that will stand the test of time. However, if you live in really hot climates where you’re exposed to a lot of sun, keep in mind that gold can bend easily when it gets hot, and if it bends you’ll never be able to straighten it out properly. It will always look different than it did when it was originally pierced. That can be an expensive lesson to learn.

What To Do Before Getting A Belly Button Piercing

Do your research on where to have the piercing at. You’ll want to find someone who is qualified, relatively affordable and someone who seems to worry about sanitary conditions as much as you do. If they put a high emphasis on keeping things clean, that’ll be one less thing you have to worry about.

Ask the piercer about their safety practices, but you should also use your own observations to check things out. Look to make sure they have disinfectant and a covered chair for their clients to sit in. You don’t want to plop down in a chair that has been bled on repeatedly.

If you have any underlying medical issues, you should mention them to your piercer or give your doctor a call before the day of your procedure. There are certain conditions that may cause your piercer to call off your belly button piercing.

Other procedures like diabetes may require a consent form before some piercers will agree to do the piercing.

If you have any bloodborne diseases or illnesses, you should tell your piercer. They need to have all the information they can about your health so they can make informed decisions that will protect both of you. You don’t want to risk anyone’s health or well-being just so you can get a piercing.

You may want to also ask your family about any family history of keloids. Keloids are thick, unsightly scars that can form on piercing sites like the belly button. Anyone can get them, but they tend to run in families.

If your family has a strong history of keloids, it doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead with the procedure – maybe you’ll be lucky and your skin will heal just fine. Still, it’s something you should be aware of. If you develop a keloid, they can make you self-conscious about revealing your piercing.

While they can be treated, it can be expensive to do so, and there’s no guarantee it will fully remove the keloid. You’ll have to see a licensed dermatologist for advice as to how is best to proceed to remove it.

As you get dressed for your appointment, try to remember to wear loose, comfortable clothes that won’t rub painfully against your new piercing when you’re all done with the procedure. It can hurt to have too much friction on that area when it’s freshly pierced. Instead, you should wear a baggy, button-up shirt that you’ll be able to get off and on with no problems.

You’ll want to leave your high-waisted jeans at home too. Anything that buttons tightly on your piercing can result in irritation that can have your piercing taking longer to heal. Instead, you should opt for low-rise sweatpants or something with a soft, flexible waistband. It’ll feel better and it will also do less damage and irritation to the surrounding skin.

On your way to the shop, you should swing by a store and purchase a few of the aftercare products you’ll need to use during your recovery phase. Grab some sea salt, small Dixie cups and cotton balls. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to grab a bit of gauze in case you end up having a lot of drainage from the wound site.

Belly Button Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide

There’s no way around it – your belly button is going to look and feel different post-piercing than it did before you had the procedure done. It may seem weird to think about how much discomfort and oozing can result from something as small as a needle going through your skin, but it happens.

A quick video guide to cleaning a new piercing:

How quickly your piercing site heals and whether you’ll develop any complications in the meantime partially depends upon how well you adhere to your aftercare instructions. You may think the hard part is over once the piercing part is done, but you still have a lot of work ahead of you so it’s best if you dedicate a few minutes every day to your aftercare.

You only need the few items we mentioned in the last section. You’re going to use that sea salt, not regular table salt, to make a solution that will cleanse your piercing site. Take a Dixie cup, fill it with hot water. You’ll want about 8 ounces of water. Next, you’ll mix in one-fourth of a teaspoon of sea salt and stir it up.

If your Dixie cup isn’t big enough to hold that much water, mix it up in a bigger cup and pour half of it in your Dixie cup.

Get in a pair of low rise pants and take off your shirt. Bend over at the waist until the rim of the paper cup is around your piercing site. Next, you’ll move to a couch or your bed while keeping firm pressure wedging the cup against your navel. Carefully lie down while keeping the cup in place so you don’t break the seal and spill it.

The water will completely envelope your piercing site and make its way in there. The salt will help clean and sanitize the wound and the warmth of the water will encourage any pus or discharge to drain from the piercing site. You’ll want to hold this cup against your navel for at least 10 minutes.

When the time is up, stand up carefully to avoid spilling the liquid, drain it down the sink and pat your belly dry with a clean paper towel.

If you try to do the Dixie cup method and find it doesn’t work for you too well without causing a big mess, you can use a cotton ball soaked in the sea salt solution instead. Hold it against your belly and get a clean cotton ball every couple of minutes so the piercing site stays wet the whole time.

However, if you don’t wish to mess about with mixing up your own solution, there are some cheap and effective piercing aftercare sprays on the market which do a great job with helping to heal your new piercing quickly and efficiently.​

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

In addition to keeping it clean, you’ll have to watch out for other things that should also be avoided as your belly button heals.

You should avoid anything that dries out your skin, like overexposure to the sun. You should keep your navel out of the sun and away from tanning beds. Dry skin can slow down your healing because you may be scratching it, plus it will just be uncomfortable.

You should also avoid applying any sunless tanner on the piercing site too. The same goes for any lotion too. Keep it dry and keep it clean until it has healed. You don’t want to get any products in the site that will irritate it.

The only thing you should be applying to your belly button is the sea salt solution. Just say no to products like hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin or anti-bacterial sprays or soaps. Try to avoid getting much soap on that area while you’re in the shower.

As common sense would tell you, you should also stay away from swimming pools for a few weeks until the site begins to heal. Pools can be full of germs and harmful bacteria – every summer there are several news articles about bacterial outbreaks at water parks, for instance.

You don’t want to chance picking up some sort of superbug while you’re out for a swim.

One of the most important rules you should always stick to is making sure you’ve washed your hands well before you touch your piercing. Keeping your hands off your navel piercing is going to be a lot easier than it would be with some other piercings, like a nose piercing for instance. Try to cover it up with your shirt and forget it’s there.

How Long Does A Belly Button Piercing Take To Heal?

A belly button piercing takes a fair amount of time to heal completely after being pierced. It can be as long as a year before it completely heals. That’s a crazy long time to wait for something to heal up. It takes longer than a broken bone does!

Yet, fortunately, most people won’t take that long to heal. There’s a good chance that it will be closer to the three-to-six month range before it completely heals up.

You might be tricked into thinking it has healed long before that though. It’ll appear to be better within the first six weeks. Though, there will still be a lot going on under the skin that you won’t be able to see.

A small part of how quickly you’re likely to heal is entirely down to the luck of the draw, but it also has a lot to do with your general overall health and how well you take care of yourself.

If you have diabetes, for instance, you can expect that your wound will take much longer to heal than it will for someone who doesn’t have that disease.

If you want to give your piercing its best shot of healing as quickly as it can, you should find ways to support your immune system. A strong immune system will be your best bet for rapid healing.

You should make sure you’re getting enough sleep – try for at least eight hours of shuteye a night. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet of superfoods like berries, brightly-colored fruits and vegetables and fish. Consider taking a daily probiotic supplement that will help your gut health and may contribute towards a tenacious immune system as well.

Make sure you aren’t fidgeting around with your belly button piercing too much either. That will slow down the healing since you’ll be undoing some of the progress every time you mess with it.

You should do everything in your power to supercharge your healing ability if you want to be at the low end of that healing range rather than on the high end of it.

Belly Button Piercing Infections

Your piercing might look pretty disgusting in the first few days. It can leak pus, have some swelling and redness and it can feel as bad as it looks. If you see that happening, you can start to let your imagination get carried away with you that you’ve developed some kind of antibiotic-resistant superinfection.

Hold-up! First, you need to reel that panic in. Infections don’t happen to most people who get their belly buttons pierced. While it’s certainly possible to end up with an infection, if you’ve followed the instructions your piercer gave you, you’ve lowered your odds of getting one at least.

Spotting an infection can be tricky since many of the symptoms for infections overlap with what you would normally expect to see after a piercing. Here’s how you can spot the difference between the two.

Take a look at when your symptoms are occurring. If they happen in the first week after the piercing, it’s a strong possibility that they are just a normal side effect of having a needle pass through your navel. However, if it has been two, three or more weeks since the piercing and the symptoms are just showing up, chances are it’s an infection.

Do you see pus? Is it smelly a bit funky? Is it a color besides clear or white? These factors can all point towards a possible infection.

Does your skin feel hot to the touch around the piercing site? If it’s an infection it could also feel harder than the other normal-looking skin in that area. If the infection is starting to spread, you may even see red stripes streaking out from the main circular area of redness.

If you notice any signs of infection, it’s time to call in the medical professionals and let them decide what the best course of action is.

Belly Button Piercing Risks

As we mentioned earlier, if you have an outie belly button, you should make peace with the fact that you shouldn’t get your belly button pierced. If your piercer tells you that you aren’t a good candidate for a belly button piercing, respect his opinion and forget about having it done.

If you try to find a person who will perform the piercing on you anyway, you’ll be able to because there are a lot of unscrupulous piercers out there. Nevertheless, you could be risk your health and have a lot of complications from doing so.

When you get a belly button piercing, one other risk you’re taking on is the chance of a migration happening. Migrations are fairly rare, however, so you shouldn’t stress about the possibility. You should learn what they are, however, so you can recognize it if it starts to happen to you.

Migration is when your body begins to reject, or cast out, a piercing that it perceives as a threat. That can happen because the piercing is too close to the surface and the body reacts by pushing it out little by little, like it would do with a splinter. Or it can also happen because of an allergic reaction to the metal used in the jewelry you’re wearing.

Signs of an allergic reaction include itchiness, redness and a burning sensation in the piercing site.

To avoid this complication, make sure you use a high-quality metal that you have no known allergies to. If you start having signs of an allergic reaction, you should visit your piercer as soon as possible. He’ll need to take out that piercing and possibly put another type of jewelry in that you may not be allergic to.

There is also a chance if migration begins happening that you won’t be able to keep your piercing at all. It’s hard to stop once it begins. You might have to take your jewelry out, let it fully heal and then try another piercing attempt at a later date.

In addition, another risk that can happen with a belly button piercing is too much bleeding. That mainly happens when you hire a piercer who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge or experience when it comes to belly button piercings.

That’s just one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to hire a quality piercer instead of one who is cheaper and maybe not as qualified. If you want top-notch service in this world, you have to be prepared to pay for it.

Belly Button Piercing Jewelry

When you choose the jewelry your piercer will put in right after he makes the hole with the needle, don’t dig your heels in if your piercer tells you you’ve selected something that won’t work well. You aren’t the expert in this situation, they are. So listen when they’re talking so you don’t regret it.

If you end up using jewelry that is too big or heavy, you can stretch out that area and you up the odds that migration will begin. Therefore, it’s best to show your piercer a few jewelry pieces that you like and see which one he thinks will work best for you.

You can use several different types of metals and you can get all different shapes and sizes, from barbells to hoops. Jewels and stones, in particular, look great on belly button piercings.

Whether you’re out on the beach rocking a bikini or you’re in a club dancing the night away in a midriff shirt, the lights surrounding you will reflect off the bling in your belly button ring and it will attract plenty of attention your way.

You’ve gone through all the pain, discomfort and long healing process of getting your belly button pierced, you might as well enjoy the spoils of your victory. Why limit yourself to one look?

Buy several pieces of jewelry and have fun swapping them out whenever the mood strikes you – just ensure you know how to change a belly button piercing first, and make sure your piercing has healed enough first.


While you’re waiting for the long healing process to get over with, you can still have fun showing off your new belly button piercing. That’s the best part about having a piercing – letting family, friends and even strangers admire how it looks.

Just make sure to treat it gingerly so you can love your look for a long time without anything dampening your enthusiasm for it.

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