Belly Button Piercing: Is It Safe?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on February 06, 2024
12 min read

A belly button piercing is a piercing through the skin around your belly button or navel, usually enhanced by a ring or other ornament. If you want to get a belly button piercing, keep in mind that it only takes a few minutes to get it done, but it can take up to a year to heal. During that time--as well as after--you'll need to take extra care of this area.

How old do you have to be to get a belly button piercing?

It depends on where you live and where you're going to have the procedure done. For instance, Florida law says that if you're under 16, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you're between 16 and 18, you need a notarized consent form from your parent or guardian if they're not going with you. 

Even if you live in a state or country with no particular restrictions, the body piercing studio might have rules about ages and body piercings. Some places won't do body piercings (apart from ears) for people under 18. Others will do them for people aged 14 and up with parental consent. One thing to think about is that body piercings require a lot of aftercare to avoid infection and teens often don't have the maturity or commitment to follow though with the aftercare instructions.

Belly button piercing price

The going rate is between $40 and $100. Some places include the price of the jewelry in their quoted fee; others charge that separately. Of course, higher-quality jewelry will cost more.

When you first get your navel pierced, you're likely to use a curved barbell, which is a banana-shaped stick with a ball on either end. It's usually made of titanium, which lessens the chance that you'll have an allergic reaction to the metal. It should be thick enough (around 14G [gauge]) to lessen the chance that your body rejects it. If the jewelry is too thin, your body may treat it like a splinter and make it come to the surface.

Once your navel has healed, you can try other styles like:

  • Non-dangle belly rings. Like the curved barbell but with diamonds or other gems at the ends
  • Dangle belly rings. A charm hangs from one end
  • Twister spirals. Spiral-shaped (rather than curved) rings with screw-on balls
  • Captive bead rings. A complete circle with a ball
  • Circular barbells. A hoop with two balls

You can find these rings in a variety of metals ranging from stainless steel to titanium to 14-karat gold. Even if you do opt for something that dangles or sparkles, you'll likely wear a basic ring or barbell for everyday comfort.


If you want to have a belly button piercing, take steps to prevent problems:

  • Choose a piercer with care. Just because a piercer has a license doesn't mean they're well trained and experienced. Ask your piercer how long they've been doing this, how they learned, as well as how they continue to learn and improve. This is important because piercing does have risks, including infection and the possibility of spreading blood-borne diseases. A good piercer should be willing to talk to you about their qualifications and the details of the piercing you want. If you don't trust them, look for another piercer.
  • Go to a studio you trust. Look for a clean, sanitary shop that has a license from the Association of Professional Piercers. You should see the license on the wall. The lighting should be good so your piercer can see what they're doing.
  • Make sure the needle is sanitary. Instruments should be in sealed pouches, which shows they are sterile. If your piercer uses a disposable, one-use needle, watch them open a new package.
  • Choose your jewelry carefully. Opt for medical-grade stainless steel, 14-karat gold, titanium, or niobium. The ring or stud you choose should have a shiny finish and be free of nicks, scratches, or rough edges. If the jewelry has irregular surfaces, your skin will grow to fill those areas. Anytime the jewelry gets moved, your skin could tear. If this happens a lot, you'll get scarring and it may take even longer to heal. You'll also be at more risk of infection.


Here's what to expect:

  • Your piercer will clean the navel area and mark the spot to be pierced.
  • They'll pass a sterile, hollow needle through the loose skin of your navel. 
  • You'll feel a sharp pinch and can expect a small amount of blood. 
  • The piercer will thread your jewelry through this new opening.
  • Finally, they'll clean the area again.

Don't get your belly button pierced with a piercing gun since it can damage your tissue and raise the chances of infection.

Belly button piercing pain

Piercing your belly button is considered to be one of the less painful piercings. People who've done it liken it to getting your ears pierced or a flu shot. This is because there's quite a bit of flesh around the navel area, unlike some other body parts, which lessens the pain. But a lot depends on the skill of the piercer and your pain tolerance. If you're very sensitive to pain, you can ask your piercer to rub a topical analgesic on your stomach before they get started.

That said, your navel area will be sore and throb and ache for a few days after the piercing.

Unlike pierced ears which take 4-6 weeks to heal, your belly button may not fully heal for up to 1 year. This is because your piercing is in a body part that moves all day. Think of all the bending and twisting you do around your middle. This slows down the healing process.

Your piercer should send you home with tips on how to keep your new piercing clean and infection-free.

General tips:

  • Wear clean, loose, and soft clothes. Tight clothing and rough fabric will rub against your piercing, which can make it take longer to heal. You may want to use a stretchy, elastic bandage to hold a hard plastic eye patch over your belly button and protect the area.
  • Stay out of lakes, hot tubs, and pools. A waterproof bandage may help, but it's best to avoid any water that may not be clean and could cause an infection.
  • Don't wear charms or dangly jewelry in your piercing. They can get pulled and tear your skin. Wait until the piercing has healed.
  • Don't change your jewelry until your belly button has completely healed. Resist the urge to touch or play with your barbell.
  • Be sure your barbell is the right size. If it's too small, there won't be room for swelling. If it's too big, it might weigh down your belly button. The correct length is 7/16 inch.
  • Watch for signs of infection. These include redness, swelling, yellow or green discharge, or pain when you touch the site. You could also have a fever. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.

Belly button piercing cleaning

  • Wash your hands before you touch your piercing. Don't let anyone else touch the area until it has healed.
  • Swab with saline solution to keep it clean and avoid infection. At least once a day, dab the area with clean gauze or a paper towel soaked with a sterile saline solution. The Association of Professional Piercers no longer recommends your making your own saline solution because these are often far too salty, which can overdry the piercing and interfere with healing. Look for a commercial saline solution labeled for wound wash. It should be listed as .09% sodium chloride with no added ingredients like antibacterials or moisturizers. If your piercer suggests that you use soap, choose a mild, scent-free one. Rinse well so you don't leave any soap behind.
  • Gently dry the area with a clean, disposable paper product. 
  • Don't clean too much. Cleaning too often or too much can slow down healing.
  • Leave any crust alone. It's normal for a white or yellow-colored fluid (not pus) to ooze from your new piercing. This may form a crust that can itch or feel tight. Try not to pick at it, since that will cause the area to bleed. This crust will come off on its own as your piercing heals.
  • Don't put anything on your belly button unless a doctor tells you to. That includes lotions, oil, and perfume. Even antibacterial cream and hydrogen peroxide may slow healing or trap bacteria inside your new opening.

Although many people don't have any problems after they get a body piercing, you could have:

  • Infection. A piercing on your belly button is more likely to get infected than other body parts because of its shape. It's easy for bacteria to hole up inside it. If the piercing needle wasn't sterile, there's a chance you could get serious infections like hepatitis or tetanus.
  • Tearing. If your jewelry catches on things, it could tear your skin. If this happens, you may need stitches. 
  • Allergic reaction. This is often due to nickel in some types of jewelry.
  • Scarring. Thick, lumpy scars called keloids may form around the site of your piercing.
  • Migration or rejection. Sometimes a piercing moves from its original spot or your body rejects it. This happens most when the piercing wasn't done in a good place, or when the jewelry was too small or of poor quality. 

If you run into problems or decide you don't want it, simply take out your ring or stud. Fresh belly piercings tend to close quickly. If you've had one for years, it can close in a few weeks, but for some people it can take longer.

Make sure you clean the area regularly until it's fully healed. If you want to keep your piercing for the long term, put jewelry in it at all times.

Belly button piercing scar

Scarring is not uncommon. One study of 58 Brazilian medical students with piercings found that 24% of those with navel piercings had scars. Keloid scars (thick raised scars) are more common among people:

  • With dark skin
  • Between the ages of 10 and 30
  • With a family history of keloids 

An unclean piercing needle or improper aftercare of your piercing can also lead to keloids. So can an allergic reaction to nickel if it's in the jewelry.

Keloids usually appear 3-12 months after your piercing. They're caused by an excess production of collagen in the skin, which makes it hard and rubbery. It's possible that melanin plays a role in the scarring, since keloids are more likely to appear in areas of the skin where there are a lot of cells that make pigment. Keloids tend to grow slowly. They may start out red or pink and end up one shade darker than your natural skin color.

You can get rid of the scars by applying silicone dressings, getting steroid injections, or undergoing keloid removal surgery.

Here are some signs your navel piercing is infected:

  • Your belly button area feels warm to the touch. 
  • Your skin looks red or discolored.
  • The wound leaks smelly pus.
  • You have a fever and/or chills.

If you suspect your belly button is infected, you should:

  • Wash your hands before doing anything.
  • Gently bathe the area in a saline solution with a clean cotton ball.
  • Rotate the jewelry as you do this to remove any bacteria, but don't take it out.
  • Dry with a clean paper towel rather than a hand towel to lessen the chance of germs.
  • Apply an over-the-counter antibacterial cream like Neosporin.

If you continue to have a fever or the redness and swelling don't go away, see a doctor.

Navel piercings are one of the areas most likely to experience body rejection. That's because the piercing lies flat on the skin's surface.

Here's what's going on: First, the jewelry moves closer to the surface of the skin (called migration). Then it starts to eject out of the skin (called rejection). It's the same procedure your body would use if a splinter of glass or wood was lodged in your skin.

The most likely reasons for belly button piercing rejection are:

  • Your jewelry is the wrong size. The barbell should be 7/16 inch (11mm), though this can be changed later after the swelling has reduced.
  • You're allergic to the metal in your jewelry. Cheaper ones may include nickel, which many people are allergic to. 
  • Your piercing wasn't made correctly. You should be pierced with a 14G (1.6mm) needle and there should be a 5/16 inch (around 8 mm) of tissue between the entrance and exit holes.

You can tell if your jewelry is migrating if:

  • You experience a lot of soreness without other signs of infection.
  • The jewelry is more visible through your skin.
  • It's hanging loosely in your skin.
  • The skin between the openings is flaking, peeling, or red.
  • There's just a 1/4 inch or less of tissue between the openings.
  • The piercing hole is getting bigger.
  • A keloid scar is forming.


Some health issues can make it harder for your body to heal or cause you to have a reaction after you get a piercing. Talk to your doctor first if you have:

If you are pregnant or overweight, a belly button ring could move around under your skin, which can lead to scarring.

If you have a navel piercing that was already healed before you got pregnant, there's no medical reason to take out your belly ring. But, as your stomach grows, you may decide to remove it because of discomfort or skin irritation. You may find your jewelry starts to migrate as well. The Association of Professional Piercers advises that you avoid "pregnancy jewelry" as they're not made of safe materials. But the piercing hole may close up without something in there, so talk to your piercer about options. 

Don't get a belly button piercing while you're pregnant. You may get an infection if the aftercare of the piercing is not pristine. You could also get Hepatitis B or C, or HIV, if a non-sterile needle is used, though this is rare. Also, the changes your body's immune system undergoes during pregnancy might affect the healing of the navel area. 

If you did a piercing before you realized you were pregnant, let your doctor know and seek their advice. Most likely they'll tell you to remove the jewelry and have your piercer reinsert it after your delivery.

Belly button piercing after pregnancy

Wait at least 3 months after you deliver your baby before getting a navel piercing to allow your body's immune system time to become normal again. You might want to wait even longer than that if you think about your little one resting on your stomach or near it, which could irritate your healing belly button.

If you had a piercing from before you were pregnant, you might find the hole has sagged with the rise and fall of your belly and you may wish to surgically close the hole up (umbilicoplasty), change the type of jewelry you use, or re-pierce it in a different spot. 




If you have a true outie navel, you probably can't pierce it. This is because an outie is scar tissue from where the umbilical cord was cut and scar tissue shouldn't be pierced. With an innie navel, only surface skin is pierced. Also, due to the presence of blood vessels in an outie navel, there's a greater risk of infection spreading to the body's organs.

However, some people have a navel that's between an innie and an outie (i.e., they have lips of surface skin above and below their belly button), which may make it possible for piercing.

Belly button piercings take longer to heal than many other types of body modifications. Be sure to do the aftercare properly to avoid infections. And choose the right size and metal for your jewelry to avoid problems. 

When can I change my belly ring?

You'll want to wait until your piercing has healed to do this, at least 6 months. Since it can take up to 12 months to be properly healed, check with your piercer before doing any jewelry changes. Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether your belly button is completely healed before the year is up, so let your piercer advise you.

Do you need a flat stomach for a belly button piercing?

Nope, you can have a belly and get a piercing. However, having loose skin around your ring could cause friction and irritation. You may have to talk to a few different piercers to find one with experience working with curvy people so you can get a good result. But don't let anyone shame you for wanting a navel piercing.