Things to Look for After Getting Your Bellybutton Pierced

By Emilia Lamberto

Whether it's displayed by a crop top or hidden under a baggy T-shirt, there's something about a navel piercing that makes you feel edgy. This is no one-size-fits-all modification. Besides the typical top bellybutton piercing, there are procedures that pierce the sides of the belly button, along with the bottom. As with any piercing, bellybutton piercings come with the risk of infection, rejection, keloids, and scars. Taking care of your wound post-piercing should help to eliminate most of these issues, but keep an eye out for indications of abnormalities.

Belly Button Piercing
credit: Alessio_78/iStock/GettyImages
Things to Look for After Getting Your Bellybutton Pierced

Check Swelling Daily

Some people experience more swelling than others, but generally speaking any swelling at the piercing site should start going down a week after your piercing. Complications along with swelling include discomfort around the navel, tenderness and irritation as a result of the wound rubbing against clothing. The Association of Professional Piercers suggests placing a hard vented eye patch over the navel to protect the area from irritation. If swelling continues to increase after a week or so, go back to the piercer.

Expect Mild Pain

During the first week post-piercing, pain and tenderness are completely normal. Depending on your pain threshold, you may be unable to bend at the waist or wear tight clothing. If the pain doesn't get better or continues to worsen after a week, contact your doctor as it's possible that you may have an infection at the piercing site. Infections may be serious, entering the blood stream and causing numerous complications.

Monitor for Redness and Warmth

Warmth at the piercing site is normal for the first few days, but should subside soon after. Redness is also normal within the first week, and may be accompanied with a minimal amount of swelling. However, if warmth or redness persist beyond the first week, contact your physician immediately. This could also indicate an infection that may be serious.

Look for Pus or Discoloration

A telltale sign of infection is the presence of pus, a thick, yellow, green, or brown colored fluid seeping from the piercing site. Although a minimal amount of "crusting" at the site is normal, discharge is not and should be looked at immediately. Some skin discoloration is also normal, but contact a physician if anything just doesn't look right.

Know What Keloids Look Like

While keloids are generally harmless, they are unsightly and may cause irritation around the piercing site. Navel keloids occur at the piercing site after the skin has healed. The bumps are generally flesh-colored, but may appear red or pink. Keloids may be smooth or lumpy and may cause itching as they grow.

Surgical treatment is usually unnecessary, as keloids may become smaller with time. Corticosteroid injections will help to reduce the size of a navel keloid. In extreme cases, laser treatments, cryotherapy (freezing) or surgical procedures may be necessary to remove the growth. Keloids may cause discomfort, tenderness, or irritation caused by friction, such as the navel piercing rubbing against clothing.

Adjusting to Pregnancy

Becoming pregnant doesn't have to mean letting the navel piercing close. Body jewelry manufacturers produce pregnancy navel rings. These rings are flexible and are much larger than a standard bellybutton ring. The ring is large enough to accommodate your growing stomach. However, many women may find that even the pregnancy ring is too small for their larger stomachs. A reputable piercer can suggest a solution.