What I wish I knew before getting a belly piercing

No regrets (ish)


By Redzhanna Jazmin

Image: Sandy Liang
What I wish I knew before getting a belly piercing

From the right kind of jewellery to use to the “ideal” type of navel, here’s what I wish I had known before getting my belly pierced at 17…

With the return of low-rise jeans, another noughties trend has come back en vogue, and it’s harking back to better (read: messier) days of jeans on red carpets, Kiera Knightley’s abs, and spring break bikinis. Belly rings are back in a big way. Did they ever really leave? The jury’s out on that one, but there’s no denying that with the Y2K revival, their popularity has come back full circle.

So, with that in mind, there’s a good chance that you’re considering getting one for yourself. As someone with a belly ring, I’m an advocate for getting pierced! I’ve had my belly ring for the better part of eight years, and it has served me well. That said, there are some things I wish I’d known before I got poked, and that’s what we’re getting into today.

As is true for any body modification, getting pierced comes with myriad risks. However, with belly piercings in particular, there are more things to consider than just the run-of-the-mill issues. Ahead, find what I wish I knew before I got my belly pierced:


The jewellery really matters

When you get pierced, you tend to get a few options to choose from. In my case, I had just one. I went to a studio which used a hoop in my belly piercing to accommodate for swelling. Knowing what I know now and having gone through the healing process with a hoop, I can say confidently that if I could go back, I’d have gone to a different piercer to have it done with a bar.

Not only was the hoop a massive pain throughout the healing process, getting caught on my clothes and by my limbs constantly, but it was also just aesthetically not what I was going for. I ended up getting the jewellery changed around the six-month mark before the piercing was really fully healed. Granted, I got a professional to help, but had I been pierced with the right jewellery from the beginning, I probably could have avoided additional discomfort.


It takes a long time to heal

Unfortunately, being a dermal piercing (read: the entry and exit points of the piercing are on the same surface), belly rings are one of the most difficult piercings to heal and come with the most complications. It can take anywhere from six to 12 months for the piercing to heal, and in that time you can run into a bunch of issues, ranging from migration (where the piercing moves from its original placement) and rejection (when your body pushes out the piercing entirely).

I had a pretty problem-free healing process, up until the point where my belly ring developed an abscess of some sort. It’s all good now, but it did take a trip to the derm and a lot of pain to deal with it.


It only works on certain belly button types

Sorry to you outie girlies—because of the way belly rings fall (AKA into the cavity of the belly button), getting a navel ring on an outie isn’t a great idea. Sure, it’s possible, but there are a few reasons why it’s not advisable. Firstly, the aesthetics of the piercing will be completely off. Unfortunately, having an outie means that the bottom of the bar cannot sit comfortably in the cavity of your navel.

Secondly, according to my piercer, getting an outie pierced can be dangerous if it gets infected. All in all, it’s not worth the risk.


There’s more than one type of navel piercing

If you’re looking for a piercing that is a little off the beaten path, rather than going for the common top navel piercing, you could try getting an inverse navel ring instead. Ultimately, the anatomy of your belly button will govern whether or not it’s right for you, but it’s one I wish I’d known about before I got poked so I could consider it!

PS: If you want to go really crazy, you could get both the top and bottom pierced!


There will be a scar

So, this one is kind of a no-brainer, but it really wasn’t something that was on my 17-year-old radar at the time. I’m happy leaving my belly ring in at present, but I’m painfully aware that if I should ever want to remove it, there’s going to be a little scar in my tummy. It’s barely noticeable, sure, but it’s there!

And I’m one of the lucky ones—my piercing didn’t reject or migrate, so the scar is little more than a teeny tiny hole. Should your healing process go awry, you’ll potentially be left with a more noticeable scar. If this is something that bothers you, I’d trial-run the piercing with a few sticky gems before committing to it.


Pregnancy could be an issue

This is another thing that wasn’t a concern for me at 17, but I was warned by my piercer regardless. Pregnancy can pose an issue for navel piercings for obvious reasons. As your belly grows over the nine months, the shape of your navel changes, stretching and even turning inside-out, which can be uncomfortable with the jewellery in. There are options like flexible piercing retainers, or you could just take the piercing out and let it close over, but either way, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re in the throes of family planning.


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