What is a Navel Piercing?

Mary McMahon

A navel piercing is a body piercing which is located in close proximity to the navel. The navel itself cannot be pierced, except in very rare circumstances. Navel piercings are treated as surface piercings, since they involve the piercing of a relatively flat area of the skin, rather than a flap of tissue like an ear lobe, nose, or lip. As with other piercings, there are a number of variations on the basic navel piercing, although not all variations are suitable for all people.

Belly button rings are considered a modern form of body jewelry.
Belly button rings are considered a modern form of body jewelry.

The classic navel piercing involves the insertion of a curved barbell through the skin just above the navel. Some people like to wear ornaments on the barbell, with the ornaments dangling over the navel itself. It is also possible to pierce the skin below the navel, or the skin around the navel, in any number of combinations and arrangements. In addition to curved barbells, some people like to use rings in their navel piercings, although sizing and placement of the ring is critical to prevent problems in the healing process.

Navel piercings are categorized as surface piercings.
Navel piercings are categorized as surface piercings.

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Like other surface piercings, the navel piercing is accompanied with an increased risk of infection when compared to ear piercings, and a slow healing time. Although these piercings are popular among young women, they require a lot of work, and neglect in the early weeks can lead to a persistent infection. This piercing can take up to nine months to heal, requiring an aftercare regimen which includes regular cleaning with a gentle antibacterial soap, and soaking with a sea salt solution. The area also tends to be very tender for several months, and there is a risk of rejection, in which the barbell or ring migrates away from the original piercing site, potentially leaving an ugly scar.

You may hear a navel piercing referred to as a “belly button piercing,” referencing the common name for the anatomical feature with adjoins it. This piercing is most commonly seen among women, and its use among young actresses has popularized it among the general public, making navel piercings a common sight in environments where the belly button is visible. After ear and nose piercings, the navel is one of the most common types of body piercing, with some people citing the ease of concealment as a major factor in choosing a navel piercing.

People who are considering a navel piercing should go to a reputable piercer who will use the appropriate equipment for the piercing, including a clean needle, sterilized clamps, and jewelry of the right size. Placement is also an important consideration, with experienced piercers recommending the best placement for someone's anatomy. Women who are thinking about pregnancy may want to hold off on a navel piercing, as the jewelry usually needs to be removed for the pregnancy.

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