Belly Button Piercings, properly called Navel Piercings, are one of the most popular types of body piercings in our society. The lobes and cartilage part of the ears are the only locations more popular to pierce than the belly. While a majority of people who sport belly piercings are female, some males get their belly pierced too. In fact, the demographic for belly piercings now range from the low teens to baby boomers!
Even though belly piercings are very popular, it is still important to understand the process and risk associated with these fabulous piercings. Piercing the navel is technically considered a surface piercing, so the healing period and possible problems that are associated with surface piercings can arise. Surface piercings are susceptible to migration (where the piercing ‘moves’ - it drifts slightly to a more comfortable resting place) or rejection (where the body outright treats the piercing as a foreign object and pushes it out of the skin). With proper cleaning and constant care, however, these two risks can be drastically minimized. It should be noted that most people who get their belly piercings, and take proper care of them, do not have any migration or rejection at all.
More rarely, the belly button piercing heals like an ear piercing - that is, quickly and problem-free. However, if you are thinking about getting your belly pierced, don't count on a quick and problem free piercing. The odds, as I am about to explain, are sort of stacked against you.
While migration and rejection can be minimized, there are intrinsic problems with the location of the belly button. Your belly button is located right in the center of your body - now consider this - every time you bed forward, backward, or to the side, your belly button shifts and stretches. With a piercing, your belly button will still do all of these things, but there will be jewelry attached that has to go for the ride. New piercings especially do not like constant motion or bending and stretching; these actions prolong healing and it is common for belly button piercings to take a year or more to fully heal.
The same constant motion and movement is further complicated by our society's clothes. Waistbands of pants and fabrics of shirts are the biggest culprits in irritating the piercing - in fact, many belly infections are attributed to clothing. Jeans are not very conducive to healing belly piercings, and unless you are willing to wear sweatpants for a year, an infection is pretty much inevitable (but the infections can be cleared away - but it is kind of a hassle to have a piercing periodically flare up in an infection). Some people would even say navel piercing infections are sort of a rite-of-passage; if you can weather the infections, you will have a beautiful and completely healed piercing. . . eventually (usually a year or so after the piercing commenced). The navel area is surprisingly high maintenance, so don't be cavalier about getting it pierced!
I do not mean to dissuade anyone from getting a piercing, but it is important to understand that the belly isn't the best place, logistically speaking, for a piercing to be, and that infections are quite common for the first year. Once you have a firm grasp of that reality, you may choose or choose not to get the piercing.
If you choose to go through with the piercing, here is what to expect. Upon explaining to the piercer that you want your belly pierced, the piercer will ask to look at your navel. Not everyone can get a navel piercing! In fact, not many people get a true navel piercing, but rather, they get either the top or lower rim of the navel pierced. The piercer will then give you his or her expert opinion on what location of the navel is best for you, and once the two of you agree, you can pick out the jewelry.
Belly jewelry is extremely varied and comes in a multitude of shapes, colors, designs, glow-in-the-dark, sizes, etc. However, for your initial piercing, stainless surgical steel or 24k gold should be used. The gold, understandably, will be expensive; this is why stainless surgical steel is the most common metal used in piercings. Initial jewelry shape is usually either a captive bead or a curved barbell - both of which will be slightly larger than you may have originally thought. The initial jewelry needs to be slightly bigger to accommodate the inevitable swelling - if a piercing is too short and the swelling therefore engulfs it, you will be in serious pain (and it's very unsightly).
Once the jewelry and payment is squared away, you will be led to the piercing area. While standing, the piercer will mark a location on your belly where they think the piercing should go. You get to confirm or rearrange the marking to your liking, and once the two of you have agreed on the exact location, the piercing will commence. Once you are lying down on a table or reclining in a chair, the piercer will first use antiseptic to sterilize the area. A clamp is usually placed around the area to get pierced, and a sterilized needle will push through the skin on your exhale. Your sterilized jewelry is then threaded through the hollow piercing needle, and once secured, your piercing is complete!
Your piercer will give you a complete explanation of how to care for the jewelry, so pay close attention. Even though infections are extremely common until properly healed, your piercer will give advice on how to avoid or heal them. If you use common sense and follow the instructions, your beautiful belly piercing will be healed in no time!
Do you want to know more about body piercings?. . .
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