Congratulations – you’ve decided to get your belly button pierced! The procedure is experiencing a renaissance thanks to celebs like Billy Eilish, Kim Kardashian, and Beyoncé, who you often see rocking some serious navel bling.

Wondering what to expect? We’ve compiled a guide that answers some common questions about the procedure, explains how it’s done, and how to ensure it heals quickly so you can start wearing navel jewelry.

FAQ – What to Know Before You Go

You likely have many questions related to getting a belly button piercing, particularly if you’ve never had a body piercing before. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive.

Where exactly on the navel is the piercing performed?

This piercing is made through a patch of skin above the belly button. If you have an incredibly tight tummy, you may not be able to get the piercing performed as it can lead to complications with healing.

Can I get a navel piercing if I have an outie?

The unfortunate answer here is probably not. If you’ve got an outie, you likely don’t have the flap of skin mentioned above, and the piercing would likely have to go through the navel itself. If your piercing becomes infected, it can spread to your internal organs and become a medical emergency.

How much does it hurt?

You might be surprised to learn that most people report that this piercing doesn’t hurt any more than ear lobe piercings. Most people describe it as a quick pinch or prick. In fact, ear cartilage and nose piercings hurt more because of the nerves in the cartilage. 

Is the procedure safe?

Belly button piercing is a safe procedure when performed by a professional piercer. However, you need to make sure you are careful with your aftercare, so the wound heals properly and the piercing does not become infected. 

Other risks include injury due to the jewelry getting snagged or jostled violently during your aftercare and the risk of allergic reactions from body jewelry.

How long does it take to heal?

It can take anywhere from six weeks to a full year for your piercing to heal. The healing time will depend on whether you experience an infection or allergic reaction and how strict you are with your aftercare routine.

Can I start wearing jewelry right away?

When you get your piercing, your piercer will insert a curved bar that needs to remain while the wound heals. 

Most piercers use a standard 14 gauge bar as this is optimal for healing. You may have some selection of hypoallergenic materials to choose from (gold or titanium, anyone?), but most people opt for a simple surgical steel bar since it’s cheap and safe. 

Only once your piercing is fully healed can you start swapping jewelry in and out.

The Belly Button Piercing Procedure Explained

  1. On the day of your piercing, you should make sure you’ve eaten and had water that day, and do NOT get drunk – in fact, a piercer will turn you away if they detect that you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 
  2. The piercer will have you sit in a comfortable chair while washing your hands and putting on sterile gloves and a mask. Sterilization ensures there is no risk of transmissible diseases during the piercing.
  3. They will then wash the piercing area with an antiseptic solution.
  4. The entire piercing takes less than a minute. The piercer will use a new, sterile surgical needle to pierce the skin and immediately put in the bar. There will be a small amount of blood, but very minimal.
  5. The piercer will then wash the area once more and send you on your way!

Belly Button Piercing Aftercare

While the actual piercing procedure is quick, the healing process can last for months. During the first couple of weeks, you may see clear liquid or crust form around the wound; this is normal. 

The swelling, redness and discoloration should also go away after a week or two. If these issues do persist or get worse, or the discharge turns yellow or green and starts to smell, you likely have an infection and need to consult a doctor. 

Your piercer will give you detailed instructions on how to wash and care for your piercing so it can heal as quickly as possible:

  • The number one rule is to NOT touch your piercing without washing your hands first. Even the smallest amount of bacteria on your hands can lead to an infection. 
  • For the first month or two, you should wash the piercing twice a day with a saline solution for the first month or two. You can either buy this at a pharmacy or make your own with one teaspoon of sea salt per 5 oz of water.
  • We know it’s tempting, but unless you are washing your piercing you should do your best not to touch it or play with it. Any unnecessary movement will only lead to a longer healing period!
  • Wear loose shirts so that the fabric is not putting pressure on your piercing.
  • You can start showering right away, but it is not recommended to take baths or go into a public pool or hot tub for six months. Unfortunately, all the bacteria in the water can cause an infection.

On Belly Button Piercing Jewelry

Finally, once your piercing is healed, you can start swapping your jewelry style to match your mood! 

Belly button jewelry comes in all shapes and sizes, such as navel rings or bars with ornamental studs, but one thing to consider is the material. Many cheaper pieces of jewelry contain metals like nickel or copper, both of which can cause allergic reactions. 

Be sure to read our guide on body piercing jewelry materials, so you’re choosing jewelry with confidence.

Looking to Get Your Belly Button Pierced in Ottawa?

At Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery, our tattoo artists and piercing experts strive to create an environment that anyone can walk into and feel welcome, comfortable and confident.

Book a free consultation today, and we’d be happy to answer any other questions you have about getting your belly button pierced or our other services.