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As some of you may have heard through the grapevine, I recently embarked on the journey of a lifetime: I got my first ever piercing.  Being a fairly down to earth individual and having a simple, almost accessory devoid wardrobe, it was a difficult decision to finally go under the needle.  And after mulling it over again and again (I don’t even have my earlobes pierced by the way), I decided that the piercing most fitting for me would be the belly.  So, as a conscientious piercee, I began to prepare for the upcoming piercing beforehand by finding out as much as humanly possible about it.

The research went great and was very illuminating.  I spoke to professional piercers who were trained long ago and have been in the business for years, as well as relatively new piercers who are up on the latest techniques and findings.  I talked with friends and strangers who have had this piercing, and scanned just about every available reputable resource on the internet, and now I feel compelled to pass on what I found out.  So here it is: The Comprehensive User’s Guide to Belly Piercing.

Part 1: The Piercing Itself

Over the years there have been several methods used in the United States and around the world to pierce the navel.  However, when I asked around, I found that the general consensus, at least in my area (Western New York State/Tri-state Area), is that a piercing done by a properly trained, well educated, and experienced piercer should go a little something like this:

1. The piercer will lay you down and disinfect your entire navel region (my piercer used iodine towelettes for this because the disinfecting qualities are prime, and the brownish color helps him see exactly how clean he’s getting it).

2. The piercer will then mark above the rim of your navel where the top of the piercing will be, essentially where the needle will emerge or top ball of the jewelry will sit. They often ask you to check in a full length mirror and make sure the placement is agreeable with you. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask them if you can see.

3. Once placement is decided upon, you lay back down and a pair of clamps are used to force the skin into a position conducive to easy piercing.  The clamps are generally less than comfortable, but are definitely necessary for safety.**  Although there isn’t really a high concentration of nerves in the tummy, hitting a nerve in this area of the body could potentially cause permanent damage.

4. A new, sterile, hollow piercing needle is inserted from inside the belly button and pushed through the skin, emerging through the marking made above.  The needle is left in for what should be only a few seconds and then the chosen jewelry in lined up with the needle’s end, inserted through the piercing, and tipped securely with a ball on the other side to hold it in place.***

5. The jewelry and the area around the new piercing are cleaned again.

*Important note: markings should not be made while you are laying down.  When you stretch out, so does your belly skin and tissue, and things will NOT look the same once you stand back up as they do laying down.

**I have seen several videos of girls being pierced in some bizarre freehand style in which a needle is forced through unclamped skin into a hollow tube, presumably to assist with placement.  This is very dangerous for several reasons including the potential nerve damage listed above, as well as the room for serious error in placement, and the ability for the needle to be inserted far too deep into the tissue.

***A good piercer will never remove the needle and then try to shove the jewelry through the piercing after.  This would create micro-tears in the skin and almost certainly lead to infection (plus it would likely be extremely painful).

Things Your Piercer Should Do

1. Wear latex gloves, or if you’re allergic to latex, alternative material nitrile stretch surgical gloves.

2. Remove ALL materials to be used for your piercing from unopened packaging within easy view and prepare them by cleaning or sterilizing them properly.

3. Explain what both your piercing needle and your new belly jewelry that will be in are made of.  Most will use surgical grade stainless steel, solid titanium, or gold jewelry, but it’s always advisable to be sure, especially if you have allergies to nickel.

When looking for a good piercing in your area, it’s always advisable to check for parlors that have been around a while, have a piercer who has at least two years experience, have user reviews posted from other customers who would genuinely recommend them, and if possible have their own web pages.  The web is a great resource because photos of the parlor, the jewelry they use, and the actual completed piercings that they’ve done on live human beings all tell a story.  You’re looking for a place that has only surgical grade materials, is clean inside with no carpeting, shows piercers wearing gloves and needles being freshly unpackaged, and has customer photos of just-finished piercings that aren’t bleeding. Bloody piercings can indicate a sloppy or inexperienced piercer.

That’s all for this topic, but I would be happy to answer any questions or comments on this subject, and please stayed tuned for Part 2: Aftercare.

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