A belly button piercing (also known as a navel piercing or umbilical dip piercing) is a piercing type located in, around, or through the navel. If done the right way, it heals fast and with little or no irritations, like ear piercings. A navel piercing may also have an extended healing time, like surface piercings. Healing takes 6 months to 9 months normally, sometimes up to a year; so long as it is cleaned regularly, it eventually heals well. Can I pierce my belly button with a sewing needle? This is a question that many DIY enthusiasts ponder before getting a navel piercing.
The answer is no! You can pierce your belly button but not using a sewing needle; you should use a standard navel piercing needle. Sewing needles come in different sizes, some larger than the piercing needle and most smaller than the piercing needle.
A navel is pierced using a 14 gauge needle, and the jewelry/bar inserted after that is mostly a 3 ace size. Piercing your belly button by yourself is difficult, but not impossible.
The best option is to seek professional body piercing services, as they have the right tools and expertise required for this undertaking. If you choose to go the more difficult DIY route, ensure you carry out prior thorough research on navel piercings, and body piercings by extension.
Look at the safety measures to be taken, both before and after piercing, look at the risks involved, the expected side effects, and unexpected side effects. You can conduct your research with the aid of online videos and articles related to the above topic.
Also, seek counsel from those who’ve had successful navel piercings. This article is an informative step that will see you through a clean, painless, and non-infectious journey in your belly button piercing prospects. I will also highlight the dangers and consequences of negligent habits commonly seen during this procedure.
Most individuals with navel piercings have it through the upper rim of their belly buttons, and it is mostly a female piercing, but not limited to females.
The Best Candidate for Belly Button Piercing
Not everybody qualifies for a navel piercing, most do, but a few are disqualified. Qualification is driven by the anatomy of the navel and past medical history. On the above note, the following individuals are disqualified:
Individuals With Protruding Navels: a protruding navel projects outward on the tummy. There are two kinds of protrusions, the hardened protrusion, and the soft protrusion; both are contraindicated for navel piercing. Piercing through any of the above leads to high rates of infections, the risk of damaging internal organs, and a very slow healing process.
Individuals With Surgical History Involving the Abdomen: An example is a tummy tuck; the skin around the belly becomes too taut to carry out a piercing. Piercing, in this case, leads to tearing of skin and related complications.
How to Pierce Your Belly Button at Home
Preparation to Pierce
- Assemble the Right Equipment
Gather the right instruments for the procedure, as it will make the process fast, painless, and with little to no bleeding. This is one of the key steps in navel piercing because once you get it wrong with the instruments, it’s almost impossible to get the subsequent steps done correctly.
In simple terms, the right tools make the procedure safe. The following equipment are needed:
- A 14-gauge sterile piercing needle
- A body ink marker
- A 3-ace bar/navel ring made of stainless steel, bioplast, or titanium
- An antiseptic: for bodily application, i.e., hand washing and cleaning the area around the navel
- A disinfectant: for cleaning the instruments and tabletops
- A piercing clamp
- Cotton wool
Using a safety pin, piercing gun or a sewing needle is not good for belly button piercing as they are more likely to give poor results, which may heal in an undesirable fashion.
- Create and Maintain a Hygienic Environment
In preparation for the piercing, start with disinfecting your working environment. Use the disinfectant for this, and you can do so by spraying the tabletops and counters then wiping with a clean cloth; this is a precautionary measure that kills harmful bacteria that pose a threat to infections.
- Clean Your Hands
Clean your hands and lower arms by washing with clean, warm water. Another way of achieving a clean pair of hands is by wearing latex gloves, or better yet, you can wash your hands, dry them and wear latex gloves for ultra cleansed hands.
Remember sterility of the process is highly critical for success; focus your efforts on maintaining a sterile environment at each stage.
- Disinfect the Piercing Needle, Belly Button Ring, and Clamp
Use the disinfectant to sterilize your equipment. First, all of the mentioned equipment has to be wrapped in new and separate packaging. Please avoid the use of second-hand or reused instruments as they may be contaminated. You should unwrap your instruments just before you sterilize.
Be keen to sterilize your apparatus using a disinfectant and not the antiseptic. The disinfectant is exclusively meant for non-living surfaces, while the antiseptic is limited to bodily application.
During the process, you can always maintain the sterile status of your apparatus by immersing them in the disinfectant. Some of the best disinfectants are hydrogen peroxide or alcohol-based solutions.
- Clean the Area Around the Navel
Use cotton wool and an antiseptic to clean the navel and the surrounding skin surface thoroughly; this, as you may know, kills bacteria present on the skin surface, eliminating the risk of navel infections.
- Mark Where the Piercing is Intended to be
Mark the needle’s entry point and the exit point using the body ink marker; this will guide you through the actual piercing for better accuracy. Do not make the mark while in a seated position, as the skin around the belly skin may crease and skew the alignment of the markings.
Typical belly-button piercings are done at the top part of the navel and rarely at the bottom; you have the liberty to choose whichever suits your taste. Stand in front of a mirror to inspect whether the two marked spots are aligned vertically.
- Numb the Area
Numbing is not necessary; it only serves to boost your confidence when doing the piercing as a DIY exercise. Apply ice cubes, then remove them before piercing, or apply a numbing gel using a q-tip.
Using ice cubes is a double-edged sword in that it also shrinks the skin, making it tougher to penetrate using the needle.
It’s important to emphasize that numbing the belly button is unnecessary as the procedure is virtually painless when done correctly. The pain is no more than a typical doctor’s injection for hospital visitations, and they too don’t need prior numbing, do they?
- Undo the Ball from the Top of the Belly Button Ring (leave the bottom intact)
The belly button ring is covered at both ends with spherical tops. Unscrew the spherical top from one end and leave the other end intact. Removing one ball covering is good for the convenience of inserting the barbell and pushing out the needle while clamping the skin.
Piercing the Navel
- Clamp the Belly Button
Clamp the navel at the marked points and hold it out slightly from the body. The clamping should be such that the marked entry point is located centrally on the bottom half of the clamp; the marked exit point should be located on the central top half of the clamp.
It is advisable to handle the clamp with your weaker hand; this enables your dominant hand to handle the needle giving you a more steady and comfortable piercing.
- Get Your Needle Ready.
Take your sterilized needle and hold it steadily with your fingers. The needle is hollowed out to allow you to slot in the navel ring after piercing.
- Pierce from the Bottom Upward
Be calm and pierce through the mark on the bottom side of the clamp. Pierce steadily and don’t stop or pause midway. until the needle exits through the upper mark. This actual piercing process takes about 2 seconds.
Immediately after piercing, with the needle still stuck in, cork the sharp end of the piercer with a needle guard; this prevents the needle from accidentally poking other parts of the skin.
I don’t recommend piercing from up downward as it hinders visibility of the needle, and you can end up missing the marked exit point—Pierce in a standing position for improved accuracy.
The piercing may bleed a little; it is important to understand that this is absolutely normal. The bleeding stops a little while after the piercing; simply wipe it off using cotton wool or cotton swabs.
- Insert the Navel Ring
When the needle pops out on the marked exit end, please don’t remove it yet. Instead, fit the uncovered end of the belly button ring/bar into the hollow needle and push out the needle from the navel ring end at the rounded top part.
Pushing out from the ring end enables seamless transition from the needle to the navel ring. Incidentally, the jewelry used is always a 3 ace-sized barbell; this fits snugly into the hole left by the needle when pushing out.
Put back the spherical top of the ring and fasten it. Voila! You have yourself a pierced belly button.
Ensure the ring/jewelry is medical-grade stainless steel as it minimizes the risk of allergic reactions. Other safe materials include titanium, gold, and bioplast. The piercing should be done in such a way that a small portion of the bar/jewelry is left free and visible.
The space on the bar gives room for the skin to be manipulated, enabling your belly to stretch out freely; whenever you lay yourself down, the skin around your belly stretches, when you stand up, the skin retracts.
The jewelry or stud used should have a smooth or glossy surface; a rough surface or a scratched surface makes insertion and removal of the jewelry painful for obvious reasons.
Plus, the skin grows into the ring’s irregular surface when healing, which makes ring change even more painful and difficult.
- Disinfect Your Hands and the Piercing
Cleal your hands by washing using soap and running/tap water. Dry your hands and use cotton wool dipped in saline solution to clean the pierced region and the surrounding skin.
Don’t be pulling at the navel ring or touching it frequently as it will lead to slow and poor healing; it also increases the risk of infections.
Post-piercing Care Procedures
- Take Care of Your Piercing.
The piercing on your navel behaves like a wound, so you should treat it as one. Take good care of the wound by maintaining its cleanliness throughout the healing period.
Cleanliness is maintained by washing daily with soapy water; this shortens the healing period. Don’t use alcohol-based solutions or peroxides daily, as they will make the skin dry and itchy.
- Clean With a Salt Solution
In addition to cleaning with soapy water, always clean the wound with saline solution for extra cleanliness and accelerate the healing process. These solutions are widely available, and you can purchase them from a piercing studio or your local pharmacy.
Use a cotton swab for a better reach and clean the piercing from both ends. Clean the belly button ring by moving gently from side to side as you wipe it with the cotton swab.
Remember, the goal is to keep the piercing as clean as possible and prevent infections.
- Avoid Swimming in Any Water.
Avoid swimming, especially in public swimming pools and other large water bodies, as these often harbor bacteria and germs that will gain access into your body through the piercing. The long duration of exposure to water also delays the healing of the wound.
- Give the Piercing Enough Time to Heal.
Complete healing takes 6 months, give or take. Do not remove or replace the navel ring until the wound heals completely; you can only remove/change the spherical caps covering both ends of the ring. Changing the ring/jewelry makes it painful and worsens the wound.
After the healing process is complete, you can change barbells/rings freely.
- Wear Clean, Loose-fitting Clothing
Clean clothing lowers the risk of getting infections, while the loose bit of the clothing minimizes agitation and tugging on the wound. Also, avoid high-waist clothing to give the piercing enough room to heal.
- Be on the Lookout for Infections.
I cannot emphasize this enough! The risk for infections poses the greatest threat to a DIY navel piercing. Some of the indicators of a looming navel infection are pus production, foul smell, excessive bleeding, and tenderness of the piercing.
If you experience any of the above, seek help from a health professional immediately to avert a potentially harmful infection.
The development of an infection is mostly due to initial poor piercing procedures or poor post-piercing care habits. Therefore, be keen on following the right process as highlighted above for good results.
The Best Needle Size and Barbell size for Belly Button Piercing
Navel piercing is gaining popularity by the day; therefore, it is important to know the right size of needle to use for its piercing. First, the standard gauge for a navel piercing is 14 gauge, and the standard length is 3/8″, 7/16″.
The standard barbell size that is initially inserted into the piercing is a 3 ace. However, you can put in the jewelry of any size after healing, provided it is not larger than the original barbell.
An overly large needle size leads to bleeding and produces a piercing that takes too long to heal. Likewise, fitting a large-sized barbell through a narrow piercing is painful and impedes healing. Therefore, use the right size of needle and barbell as highlighted above.
What to Do With an Infected Navel Piercing
Common causes of infection are bacteria and allergic reactions. In the event of a bacterial infection, apply an antibacterial cream to the infected area; also, take oral antibiotics to prevent infection from getting into the body. If the infection persists, see a doctor.
- Allergy to the Piercing Needle and Piercing Ring
Sensitivity reactions to the piercing instruments are rare, but uncomfortable if it presents. The difference between an infection and an allergy is: an infection is caused by bacteria, while an allergy is caused by the body’s immune reaction in an attempt to reject the piercing.
Allergic reactions to the piercing can be told apart from infection. An allergic response causes inflammation and tenderness on the piercing despite maintaining a clean and disinfected navel.
For allergies, apply warm compresses daily on the belly to relieve pain and inflammation or take antiallergic medication after consultation with a doctor.
If inflammation or allergic response persists even after taking medication, it could be because of piercing rejection.
- Rejecting Piercing
A rejecting piercing is described as a piercing that is growing out. The skin around a rejected navel piercing grows thin over time until the jewelry is pushed out of the body; this leaves a large and mostly permanent scar.
When you realize your skin is rejecting a piercing, the best thing to do is take it out immediately. A typical piercing rejection has the bar growing longer and longer and the skin thinning out.
If you are unsure whether your piercing is rejected, talk to your piercer. Do not re-pierce a rejected piercing; scar tissues formed on the rejected sites are weaker than normal tissue, thus increasing the chances of another rejection.
Navel piercing rejection occurs due to several factors like shallow piercing, continuous bumping of the piercing, irritation of the piercing, poor aftercare regimen, and immune response. So what should you do when a rejected piercing leaves you with a scar?
How to Remove a Scar from a Rejected Navel Piercing
The earlier you remove a rejecting piercing, the better; if your piercing rejects out until your jewelry falls off, it leaves a large scar. Most of the scars can be minimized but not eliminated. First, massage around the navel to get normal blood circulation around the affected area; this promotes normal healing, preventing the scar from getting bigger.
Also, apply ointments that are indicated for scarring therapy to get rid of the scar. An example of anti-scarring ointment is Mederma, which you can purchase from your local pharmacy, or a cosmetics shop.
Belly button piercing is an art that should not be taken for granted. It’s a relatively simple act in itself, but the buildup to and the aftercare procedures takes meticulous input.
The ingredients for a successful navel piercing are the right instruments, a professional piercer, and the correct post piercing care. So,
Can I Pierce My Belly Button With a Sewing Needle?
I affirmatively say no to that! Piercing your navel with a sewing needle will almost always fail, or at best, give you unimpressive results for the following reasons:
- The standard needle size for navel piercing is 14 gauge. Sewing needles come in different sizes, so chances are you will use the wrong needle size, which spells disaster. Plus, if you use a sewing needle smaller than 14 gauge, you won’t be able to insert large standard-sized jewels/rings once the piercing heals.
- Belly button piercing is best done by a professional; doing it DIY is less effective as you cannot visualize well for a perfect procedure. You run the risk of piercing into your belly, which is more painful and harmful. A professional piercer is accredited by federal authorities and has the license to show for it.
- The sewing needle you’ll use most likely has been used for sewing multiple times; this means it is not sterile; this is not good for piercing your belly. Remember, the piercing leaves a wound behind that needs to heal. A sewing needle, in this case, is a conduit that will give harmful bacteria direct access to your body. Piercing needles are single-use needles, just like injection needles, not like sewing needles.
- A piercing needle has different anatomy from a sewing needle:: The sharp end of a piercing needle is a hollowed tri-bevel; this makes it pierce at a C-shape for faster and cleaner healing. On the other hand, a sewing needle is structured for puncture; this has much slower healing and is prone to infections. The piercing needle also has a plastic guard at its sharp end to keep you from pricking yourself when preparing.
- A navel piercing needle is flat and hollow at its non-piercing end, while a sewing needle has a curved non-piercing end bearing an eyelet for threads. The flat hollow end of the piercing needle enables smooth ejection and transition between the needle and the barbell; this is impossible if you use a sewing needle.
My parting shot is, don’t use a sewing needle to pierce your belly button; it does not necessarily mean that it is impossible. This resolve is based on a risk-benefit analysis; the risks and consequences far outweigh the health benefits.
Also, don’t pierce your navel by yourself; instead, have it done by a professional piercer. If you decide to pierce DIY, at least assemble the right equipment, including a piercing needle, not a sewing needle.