Skip to main content

My Prolonged Belly Button Piercing Nightmare

Many people are willing to tolerate belly button piercing pain because the end result  can look like this.

Many people are willing to tolerate belly button piercing pain because the end result can look like this.

A Fateful Decision

Plenty of time has passed, and the memory wants to fade, but the hole in my stomach lives on and keeps the story alive and well. It was my third year in college, and my best friend and I had just turned 21. I don't know where she got the idea from but suddenly she was asking me an ominous question: "You want to do something daring?"

I knew I didn't really have the guts to get a tattoo, but more than that, I already had several piercings in my ears, so I thought I was familiar with the sting. Still, nervousness crept up in me as we walked into the dark lobby of the piercing shop. I filled out my info on the clipboard, and I tried to get a little reassurance from the guy at the desk.

"Is this going to hurt?" I asked.

"Well if it did," he replied, "nobody would be doing it."

"Is this going to hurt?"

"Well if it did, nobody would be doing it."

The Belly Button Piercing

Why didn't I turn back at that moment? I didn't want to bail on my friend. We never really had a discussion about doubts or anything, so I guess we both figured we were committed. I remember a bunch of people surrounding me on a table. Maybe it was two or three.

The process was very quick. First a wipe, then clamp, then a hook, and then the closure of the ring. I'll go ahead and be slightly honest and say it was painful. Little did I know, getting the actual piercing was the easy part.

The Immediate Aftermath

We were on our way in no time, supplied with medkits that explained how to care for our piercings by soaking them in sea salt water nightly and avoiding snags. We threw on our jackets and headed back to campus to finish the day's classes.

Bumping a fresh piercing against a desk is quite irritating. I'm not sure why we didn't go home and tape them down first. Day one was awful. The good news is, we did our soaks together, and we also had fun shopping for sexy little rings to swap them with when it was safe. I remember thinking as far ahead as a few months, only concerned with what new ring I was going to be wearing. I never considered the idea that my piercing experience would be so short-lived.

Most piercers use a tool like this one to aid them in belly button piercing.

Most piercers use a tool like this one to aid them in belly button piercing.

What Happened Next

I think I remember the instructions saying to do the soak for no more than a couple months at the longest, but for some reason, my piercing was not healing. Six months to a year in, I began to get this green itchy sticky crust around it, and the pain was still there. I was very careful to clean it properly, but something just wasn't right.

The End of My Belly Button Piercing

Two years later, I was still getting occasional infections. I was still doing my sea salt soaks and still cleaning the area as if it were a new piercing. When I spoke to my friend, she said those days were long gone for her, and it was like an ordinary piercing. Why was my body rejecting it?

Thinking back, one thing I never tried was switching over to solid gold, or back to the original steel barbell they installed it with. Costume jewelry makes my ears itchy and red, so I began to think that maybe that's all it was for my belly ring. That thought didn't cross my mind until then: I had what appeared to be a keloid on my navel, and it was extremely painful.

After about six months into the second year, I was tending to my ring one day when I noticed that my skin was literally stuck to the ring. I couldn't move it at all, and the skin was inflamed. I soaked and jerked and twisted, but the ring would not budge. After over an hour of soaking, it seemed that I was able to move the ring, and that’s when I finally decided to go to the nearest piercing shop and have them look at it. I took the ring out and set out to find some answers

When I finally arrived at the shop, they took one look at my piercing and said, "It's too late, you took it out, there's nothing we can do." After years of pain and babysitting this belly ring that I could never show off due to constant infection, it was suddenly all over just as quick as it had begun.

I was hurt for a while; I wanted to forget about the experience and move on. I've even considered getting it pierced again, but fear and other life experiences have stopped that plan. I'm not sure why my body had to be so difficult. I guess it's something I wasn't meant to have, and now all I'm left with is a pinhole over my navel and an awful story.

A typical belly button bar has a small  knob on the top end and a slightly larger knob on the bottom end.

A typical belly button bar has a small knob on the top end and a slightly larger knob on the bottom end.

Considerations Before Piercing Your Body

  1. All piercings are not equal.
  2. Educate yourself. Find an expert on the matter and try to read about all the what-ifs and potential dangers or the smart things you should know about before you pierce so you can ask the right questions and know how to handle an urgent situation.
  3. Do you want the remnants and the permanent hole? Even for ears, if/when your piercing closes, you will most likely still have physical evidence of the piercing on your body.
  4. Listen to both good and bad experiences. You never quite know what side you'll land on until you do it. The more educated you are, the more prepared you'll be should something go wrong.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Tanzanite Day