Are you thinking about getting your belly button (navel) pierced?
Worried it’ll hurt? Or maybe you have no idea how to look after it so it heals properly?
Well, we’re here to put your mind at ease. By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll be completely confident to head to your local body piercing parlour and get your new piercing. You’ll know everything you need to know about the belly button piercing procedure, all about the healing process and how to look after it, the different types of jewellery, how much it hurts, and so much more.
Keep reading to find out everything from A-Z about belly button (navel) piercings.
Table of Contents
What is a belly button (navel) piercing?
A navel piercing, more commonly known as a belly button piercing or belly ring, is a piercing that passes through the skin from the inside of your navel (the small indentation/scar in the centre of your stomach) to the outside, usually through the upper side.
They are one of the most common female body piercings apart from earlobe piercings, and they are for good reason… They look amazing!
The piercings are usually done at a small gauge/jewellery thickness of 14G (1.6mm or 1/16″) or 16G (1.2mm or 3/64″) and the most common types of jewellery worn in belly button piercings are belly bars or ball closure rings (BCR)/captive bead rings (CBR).
Types of belly button piercings
There are a few different variations of the navel piercing to choose from. These are:
Standard belly button (navel) piercing
This is the most common belly button piercing you see on most people. This piercing is a vertical piercing that goes through the flap of skin from the upper part of your navel, and comes out through about 0.5cm-1cm above your navel.
It is usually the least painful and one of the quicker placements to heal as the skin it goes through is a bit thinner than the other types of belly button piercings.
Bottom belly button piercing (inverse navel piercing)
This piercing is the opposite to the standard belly button (navel) piercing. The top of the piercing starts on the bottom of the inside of your navel and goes through the skin and comes out about 0.5-1cm below your navel.
It is quite rare to see this piercing on it’s own. They are usually coupled with a standard belly button piercing to make what’s known as a “double” belly button piercing on the top and bottom.
Whilst the piercing itself doesn’t usually hurt much at all, this piercing is not normally suitable for people with bigger stomachs as the movement when you sit down can stretch and move the jewellery around and is known to cause irritation and discomfort. It’s best to ask your piercer for advice directly, and maybe come with a backup plan if they say no.
Double belly button piercings
Double belly button piercings are simply a combination of 2 belly button piercings, either in the same spot right next to each other (e.g. a double standard belly button piercing) or a 1 top, 1 bottom combination. A good combo of jewellery in a double belly button piercing looks really awesome.
Horizontal belly button piercings
Usually found in pairs to keep them looking symmetrical, horizontal belly button piercings are piercings that go through the left and/or right side of your belly button. Most people who have these piercings wear a barbell on both sides, but some people even wear a long “industrial” bar that connects the piercings on either side with a long bar through the middle of your belly button.
Due to the placement of these piercings and the constant body/skin movement of the skin in that area, horizontal belly button piercings are very prone to “rejection,” which means that over time your piercing will slowly push to the surface and you have to take the piercing out (or if you leave it long enough it will come out on its own). Depending on the person or how deep the original piercing was, this can sometimes happen in less than a year.
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Belly button dermal piercings
Have you ever seen a piercing before that looks like the person has glued a piece of jewellery to their skin and you couldn’t figure out how it works? Well, that’s a dermal piercing. A dermal piercing is a piercing that requires a special tool to place a dermal “anchor” under your skin to fasten the jewellery into (Don’t worry, it sounds much more scary than it actually is!). Belly button dermals are dermal piercings placed around the belly button area on your torso – Most of these are either found above or below the belly button.
Belly button piercing pros and cons
- They look amazing
- You can mix and match the jewellery easily to suit your mood
- They aren’t very painful to get pierced
- You can still keep them when you’re pregnant (with special jewellery)
- Not everyone can get one (e.g. if you have an outie – read below for more info on this)
- The placement means they tend to move around a lot with your body movement (e.g. sitting) and may take longer to heal, or not heal at all. This mainly impacts on people with larger bellies
- It’s not very common to see guys wearing them
Things you need to know BEFORE you can get your belly button pierced
Not everyone can get their belly button pierced, so before you decide, read this section and make sure you know what kind of belly button you have and to know the risks associated with getting one if your navel type isn’t suitable.
First, you need to understand the anatomy of your belly button
Your belly button (navel) is essentially hard scar that’s left over from where your umbilical cord connected you to your mother during the pregnancy before you were born. The umbilical cord was the single lifeline of your body when you were inside the womb, and it carried all the nutrients and blood flow from your mother to you to help you grow. Although they cut your umbilical cord when you are born, the arteries and veins (i.e. the things that pump blood around your body) are still connected behind your belly button scar. This is why professional body piercers are extra careful with belly buttons as they don’t want to cause complications or possible infections.
[Usually suitable for piercings]
- Deep and round: Round navels that are completely circular. [Usually suitable]
- Vertical oval: An oval shape that is taller than it is wide. [Usually suitable]
- Horizontal oval: An oval shape that is wider than it is tall. [May be unsuitable – check with your piercer if there is not enough protruding skin]
- T-shaped: Resembles the shape of a T. [Usually suitable]
[May be unsuitable – check with your piercer]
- Protruding outie: The centre of your belly button sticks out, but there is usually a small space around the outside which may be enough to allow for a piercing at the top. [May be unsuitable – check with your piercer]
- Split outie: The protruding umbilical scar extends outwards, but is usually split in close to the middle, similar in appearance to a coffee bean. [May be unsuitable – check with your piercer if there is not enough protruding skin]
- Circlet: The entirety of the umbilical cord remnant protrudes, but the centre of the knot has a hole that is usually deeper than it is wide. This usually resembles a donut shape. [Most likely unsuitable]
- Swirly/Spiral: Although these are pretty rare, the umbilical scar forms a swirl shape. The shape can sometimes look like the formation of a hurricane/cyclone. [Most likely unsuitable]
- [Usually suitable] = In most cases, you should be able to get a belly button piercing.
- [May be unsuitable – check with your piercer] = You may still be able to get one, but you should drop into a professional piercing parlour and ask first. Maybe come with a backup plan.
- [Most likely unsuitable] = It’s very unlikely that a professional piercer will pierce you, but you should still drop into a piercing parlour and ask first. It’s a good idea to come with a backup plan.
Types of belly buttons that can’t be pierced
Professional body piercers are highly trained in knowing all the places you can and can’t pierce. Although every belly button is different and yours could be ok, the main reason why your belly button might not be suitable for a piercing is because there just isn’t enough skin for the piercing to go through to hold it in place over a long period of time. As your skin sheds its layers (that’s normal if you didn’t already know), shallow piercings will “migrate” or grow out, so whilst it may be safe to pierce, your body might reject it and it will migrate out over a short period of time. Here are some types of belly buttons may not be suitable for a piercing (for more information, see above):
- Protruding outie belly buttons
- Split outie belly buttons
- Circlet outie belly buttons
- Swirly/spiral outie belly buttons
- Belly buttons with umbilical hernias
Pregnancy and belly button piercings
There’s a lot of conflicting information online from medical professionals about whether you can have a belly button piercing during your pregnancy. Here’s some common questions people ask:
Can I get my belly button pierced if I’m pregnant?
Whilst it is technically safe get your belly button pierced when you’re pregnant, it is not recommended to get one until after you’ve had your baby. New piercings can sometimes take months to fully heal, and because your belly grows A LOT during pregnancy, the pressure that’s applied to the piercing area would be far too much and can cause a lot of irritation.
I’ve already got my belly button pierced.. Can I keep it in when I’m pregnant?
Yes, you can keep your belly button piercing in during pregnancy, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on it once your belly starts to grow. Here’s some of our top tips to make sure it all goes smoothly:
- When you find out you’re pregnant, swap your jewellery out for a belly bar. Wearing small rings is not recommended.
- As your belly starts to expand, as soon as you feel or notice any sort of tightness either along the bar, or the balls on either end are compressing against the piercing holes, swap out your jewellery for a specially-designed Bioflex maternity belly button ring. They look like a regular belly bar but are a bit longer, and they’re flexible so they move with your body. And, because they’re made from clear medical-grade plastic, they’re totally safe for you and your bub.
Belly button (navel) piercing pictures
View more belly button (navel) piercing pictures
Do belly button (navel) piercings hurt?
Normal belly button (navel) piercings are known to be one of the least painful piercings you can get (great news, right!?). Many people compare the low levels of pain to getting your earlobe pierced. At most, you should only feel a slight prick of the needle, which is comparable to a “hard pinch,” followed by about 5-10 seconds of mild pressure.
For more complex belly button piercings like the horizontal or bottom belly button piercing, you’ll usually experience a bit more of a sharp pain with a significant amount of pressure as they have to pass through a lot thicker area of skin/layers.
Discomfort during healing: 6/10
There’s always a risk of bleeding for any piercing… After all, you’re getting a needle put through your skin! Despite this, belly button piercings don’t usually bleed very much but there’s a slight chance you might get a little bit either during the piercing procedure or within the first couple of days after getting one. This is totally dependant on your genetics, your health, or if you’ve consumed alcohol or a lot of caffeine.
Pro tip: You should never drink alcohol at least 24-48 hours before getting any piercing as it thins your blood!
The belly button (navel) piercing procedure: What’s it like to get your belly button pierced?
Getting your belly button pierced is usually quick and easy. Most professional body piercers will have you in and out in about 10-15 minutes.
Here’s a video of a woman getting her belly button pierced. See…not that bad, right!? ^
When you get your belly button pierced, here’s what you should expect:
- Firstly, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll usually have to read and sign a terms and conditions form about all the risks associated. Because you’ve read this guide, it’s fairly unlikely you’ll learn anything new, but make sure you read it all carefully before you sign it.
- Once you’re ready, the piercer should make you feel comfortable and sit you down on a chair or side of a table. They will generally ask you a bunch of questions about what you want, and pick out any jewellery if the parlour offers options. They will usually recommend the best jewellery to aid healing, which will most likely be a belly bar, but if you want something different simply ask and they will give you some recommendations.
- Once you’re all ready, your navel and surrounding areas will then be wiped down with an alcohol swab to kill any germs or bacteria. It might feel a little cold and wet which is fine.
- Next, the piercer (with gloves on) will use a special non-toxic skin marker pen to mark where the piercing needle will go then show you in a mirror. Make sure you’re totally happy with the placement. At this point, ask any questions you have or get them to move it and show you again. Remember, if you don’t speak now, you’ll be stuck with it.
- The piercer will get the steralised needle, jewellery, and any tools they need for the job ready. The piercer will usually grab a pair of forceps that will be used to help guide the needle. These look like scissors with a long, skinny stem and a loop at the end to grip skin where the piercing will go.
- Your piercer should line everything up, get you to take a deep breath in, then during your big deep breath out they will pop the needle through. When you get your navel pierced, you’ll usually experience about 10 seconds of pressure after the needle goes through – this is normal.
- Your piercer will then get your sterilised jewellery ready, place it against the flat end of the needle and slide it through. This part may be a tad uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds.
- The piercer will clean everything up around your navel. Your piercing might bleed a little if you’re more prone to bleeding/have thinner blood, or you’ve had alcohol or lots of caffeine in the past 24-48 hours. After all, you have just had a needle put through you. (Note: Getting a piercing after you’ve been out drinking is definitely not recommended as it thins your blood and slows down the healing process.)
- Once that’s all done, you can check your new belly button piercing out in the mirror then go show it off to your friends! (just don’t let them touch it)
If for some reason your piercer doesn’t do any of these, make sure you stop and ask. A good piercer will usually tell you what they’re doing as they go, but if in doubt, always ask!
Pro tip: Always ask for a needle piercing, not from a gun!! Single-use piercing needles are known to be much more sterile than piercing guns. Most pro’s will use needles for everything, but there are still some cheaper piercers or well-known chains that still use guns.
What do I need to bring with me when I get my belly button pierced?
- Wear a loose-fitting, dark coloured t-shirt/top (avoid white/light colours just in case you bleed a little)
- Valid photo ID (most countries require you to be 16+ to get your belly button pierced)
- Cash or debit card (most piercing parlours are small businesses, so they may cards at all and it’s unlikely that they will accept credit cards like American Express)
How much do belly button (navel) piercings cost?
The cost of a navel piercing can differ significantly depending on a number of factors:
- Jewellery – Gold and titanium usually costs more than standard jewellery (the most common is surgical steel).
- The location of the store – Inner-city parlours pay way more rent than suburban studios.
- Piercer experience and reputation – Expect to pay more for quality! Actually, we recommend it. Always do your research and make sure your piercer has lots of experience, especially with the more difficult piercing types.
|Average cost (with standard jewellery)
|Europe (France, Germany, Spain, Italy)
Hot tip: Always check your piercer’s website for prices or give them a call and ask when you book your appointment. Also make sure you confirm that the costs include jewellery, as there are still a lot of piercing parlours that charge an additional fee for jewellery. Most places will charge you the full amount before you get your piercing done, but if not, always ask before you even enter the room. We wouldn’t want you to get stung with crazy fees.
Belly button (navel) piercing jewellery
The most common types of jewellery worn in a belly button piercing are curved belly bars (also known as belly barbells), or captive bead rings (CBR)/ball closure rings (BCR).
Curved belly bars
Belly bars, also known as curved belly barbells, are a type of jewellery designed especially for use with the standard belly button piercing. The bar itself is has a curve in it to contour perfectly between the upper and inner holes of the piercings so it looks awesome and fits snug. There are balls at both ends, and more often than not, the one that goes inside your belly button is usually a little bit larger in diameter so it fills more of your belly button and looks more symmetrical.
There are countless different types of variations of jewels and gems to bling up your belly bar. If you’re keen to splurge, lots of jewellers and designer outlets sell cubic zirconia and silver/gold bars which retail upwards of $100. We’ve even found ones at higher-end retailers like Maria Tash for more than $1,000+.
- Most common gauge: 14G
- Most common bar length: 10-12mm
- Most common ball sizes: 3-5mm
- Recommended material: Surgical steel, gold or titanium
Ball closure rings (BCR) / Captive bead rings (CBR)
A complete ring that closes using a ball (or bead) which has a small notch on either side where the ring ends pop into. Rings don’t always suit every type of belly button piercing – they tend to suit people with a deep innie belly button.
- Most common gauge: 14G
- Most common diameter: 8-12mm
- Most common ball sizes: 3-5mm
- Recommended material: Surgical steel, silver, gold or titanium
Belly button (navel) piercing aftercare: How to look after your piercing
Getting your belly button pierced is over and done with before you know it, but you’ve still got a few months of healing ahead of you. The way you look after them for the next few months is crucial to the health and longevity of your piercing. After all, you want to keep it for a long time, right!?
How long do belly button piercings take to heal?
Belly button piercings can feel like they’re healed in about 4 to 6 weeks, but it actually takes between 3 to 6 months to fully heal. Whilst it may seem healed and no longer be painful to touch, it takes much longer than you might realise to fully heal your new “wound” from the inside.
- Your new piercing is likely to be a little painful for the first 3-5 days after getting it.
- Depending on your jewellery type, belly button piercings are usually fairly easy to bump with your hands or catch you off-guard when you lean against something or lay on your stomach. They can also sometimes get caught on your clothes or when you’re drying yourself after a shower, so be careful when drying that area by softly dabbing around the piercing with a clean towel.
What you can and can’t do with a new belly button piercing
First 48 hours
- Try to plan it on a day where you don’t need to do much afterwards. The best thing would be to go home and chill out
- To aid healing, try to avoid getting your belly button pierced before going out drinking alcohol
- Avoid strenuous exercise or going to the gym. You don’t want your piercing to move around too much
First week (0-7 days)
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing
- Avoid taking a bath
- Don’t go swimming in pools, hot tubs, the beach, rivers as there is a lot of bacteria
- Take it easy at the gym and avoid repetitive core or ab exercises
First month (0-30 days)
- Don’t touch your piercing or jewellery unless you’re cleaning it. Don’t let your friends touch it either
- Avoid using scented soaps in the shower where possible. A good alternative is to use unscented antibacterial soap like Dettol Antibacterial Soap Bars
- Avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, the beach, and rivers where possible
- Don’t use a tanning bed
How to clean your belly button piercing
You should do this twice a day for the first 4-6 weeks during your healing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap
- Use a salt and water mixture or a store-bought salt wash/spray solution like H2Ocean to soak the piercing and area around it if you can to flush and dampen the dried skin. Don’t use any antibacterial creams or sprays that aren’t specifically designed for body piercing aftercare
- Very gently push the bar from the bottom up from inside your navel as you can so the stem of the bar is revealed behind the ball out the top
- Dip a swab or cotton-bud (Q-Tip) in the salt water mixture and gently clean the piercing hole and jewellery, and wipe away any “crusties” (hardened flaky skin) carefully so you don’t cause any irritation
- Put your finger on the top ball and gently push the bar downwards and back into the hole until the ball touches the skin at the top of the piercing hole
- Repeat step 4, angling your Q-Tip slightly to get the whole area around the piercing inside your navel
- Put a little extra salt water mixture around both ends near the piercing holes and very gently slide or move the jewellery back and forth once or twice so the salt water mixture can enter the piercing hole. There’s no need to drown the piercing in the solution – it should just be a little damp.
- Dab area dry with a clean towel if the area is wet
Note: If you’re wearing a ring instead of a belly bar, simply repeat the steps above and turn the ring gently in both directions.
When can you change your belly button piercing?
Because belly button piercings take about 3-6 months to fully heal, it’s recommended that you don’t change your jewellery for at least the first 3 months as this may cause irritation or an infection. As exciting as it is to start switching your jewellery out for some different bling, always keep the same one in for as long as you can to let the piercing hole fully heal.
If you’re itching to change the bling on your belly bar, you always have the option to unscrew the balls on the end and change them with another one that fits the gauge size. You should wait at least 1 month before you do this. Don’t remove the bar inside though – you should only change the balls one at a time.
How to remove a belly button piercing
Removing a belly bar:
- Dry your hands thoroughly
- With your non-dominant hand, grip the ball at the top of your piercing between your thumb and your index finger (if you’re right-handed, this will be with your left hand)
- Firmly grip the lower ball between your thumb and index finger with your dominant hand – this will be the one holding everything steady
- Whilst holding the bottom ball in place, gently pinch and twist the upper ball in an anti-clockwise direction (most screw jewellery follows the “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty” rule!)
- If the balls are stubborn, squeeze both balls a bit tighter, and make a couple of small but firm jolting motions as you twist (on the top ball only first, then try both balls if the jewellery has a screw-twist ball at both ends). If this still doesn’t work, try putting on a pair of rubber gloves as this may help you grip the balls better.
- Once one of the balls starts to spin, twist it a few times then grip the ball tightly so you don’t drop it. Once the ball is off, place it somewhere safe.
- Pull the bar out the other end by gripping the remaining ball
Removing a ball closure ring (BCR) or captive bead ring (CBR):
- Carefully turn the ring until there is enough solid part of the ring to grip between your thumb and index finger.
- With one hand, grip the exposed part of the ring between your thumb and index finger.
- Using your other hand, grip the ball between your thumb and index finger.
- Place your index finger gripped to the ring right next to the ball and put pressure on the ring to stabilise it. At the same time, use your thumb that’s got a grip on the ball to put the same amount of pressure in the opposite direction and the ball should pop out. Have a firm grip on the ball with your thumb and index finger to keep ahold of it so it doesn’t go flying.
Note: Some BCR’s may require a special tool called ring opening pliers, but you shouldn’t need these for smaller gauge rings commonly used for belly button piercings.
Pro tip: If your piercing is infected or hurts to take out, do not remove it. Consult your piercer and a GP/doctor immediately as removing the jewellery can result in the hole closing up and your infection having nowhere to go (and that won’t be fun!).
Belly button (navel) piercing infections
Just like with any cut or graze, a belly button piercing can get infected quite easily because it’s in an area that moves around a lot. When a piercing is brand new, it’s normal to see some slight swelling and redness around the piercing. There might also be a tiny bit of clear discharge that dries and forms some flakes of skin, known as “crusties,” around the piercing. These symptoms are normal in the first few days but should get better over time, not worse.
The 2 most common types of piercing issues are bacterial infections and allergic reactions. Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria getting into the piercing wound while it’s still healing, whilst an allergic reaction has similar symptoms but is caused by an allergic reaction between your body and the jewellery you’re wearing.
Infections usually occur the first 8-12 weeks after getting your belly button pierced, so this is why it’s important to know your body, keep it clean (using the instructions above), and take action if you notice anything wrong. Some symptoms/signs you might have an infected belly button piercing include:
- Red skin surrounding the piercing holes
- The opening of your piercing holes becomes larger than originally pierced
- Red lines that radiate near the piercing area
- Throbbing around the area
- A burning or hot sensation
- Yellow, pus-like discharge
- Itching or a rash
If you experience fever or nausea, go and see a doctor immediately.
What to do if you think you have an infection
Most piercing infections are usually minor, so you may be able to treat them at home without medical intervention. Here’s what you should do if you think you have one:
- Don’t panic or overreact. Infections are fairly common
- Have a read official medical-reviewed source like this one on Medical News Today
- Keep your jewellery in at all times unless a doctor has told you to remove it. If you let your piercing hole close with an infection, you could develop an abscess and make it a lot worse
- Clean the area with a piercing salt wash/spray solution like H2Ocean
- If you’re unsure or your symptoms don’t improve within a few days, go and see a GP/doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic medication to help get rid of the infection.
…But it’s not all scary, we promise! A large majority of people actually say they feel like it’s fully healed and don’t even realise it’s there after just a few weeks. There’s always a small risk of getting an infection when you get a new piercing, but a lot of this comes down to your hygiene and how you keep it clean.
Just in case you forgot, here’s why you need a belly button piercing:
- They look incredible
- You can mix and match the jewellery easily to suit your mood
- They are one of the least painful common piercings you can get
- You can still keep them when you’re pregnant (with special jewellery)
Are you ready to get your belly button pierced yet? Of course you are!
If you’ve been inspired and you’re ready to get your belly button pierced, simply click the button below to find a professional piercer near you.
We hope you’ve learnt a thing or two about belly button (navel) piercings after reading this guide. If you liked it, make sure you share it with your friends…It’d mean that world to us 🙂 If you think something’s missing or you were looking for more information, please let us know on our feedback page or leave a comment below.