Belly button piercings are notorious for being difficult to heal and are prone to scarring. They are worth putting in the effort, but it’s best to learn of the risks beforehand. If you are planning to get your belly button pierced and want to prepare yourself, or you’ve already gotten the piercing and are looking to minimize scarring, keep reading.
We’ll go over causes, prevention, and treatments of scars.
What causes a belly button piercing to scar?
There are several reasons why a belly button piercing will scar. The first – and the most unfair reason – is that some people are more prone to scarring!
One type of scar, a keloid, is caused by excess collagen in the skin. This type of scar may appear to be red or pink and extends beyond the borders of the wound. It is a firm, smooth, and hard growth.
Keloids are more common in people who:
- Have dark skin
- Are younger than 30
- Have a first degree relative (such as a parent, sibling, or child) who gets keloids
A more common type of scar is a hypertrophic scar. This type of scar stays within the borders of the wound and is more treatable in comparison to keloids.
Some skin disorders, such as psoriasis, can cause you to scar more easily.
There is also a risk of scarring if your body rejects your piercing. This can occur with any piercing and is more likely to occur if your belly button was pierced incorrectly.
Some belly button piercings are surface piercings and not actual belly button piercings. Your belly button piercing must be placed inside of your belly button and not simply on top. You should be able to insert a finger into your belly button and be able to feel the bottom part of the piercing.
Some people, due to their anatomy, are not able to get a true belly button piercing. This is why it’s important to go to a reputable piercer who will evaluate your belly button and if it can support a piercing. Ask to see their portfolio of belly button piercings to make sure they’re piercing inside the belly button.
You can tell your piercing is being rejected if you see more of the jewelry becoming visible under the skin. The skin will appear thinner or tighter above the jewelry. In this case, you may have to remove the piercing. It is best to consult your piercer for advice.
Improper piercing procedures and aftercare can also cause a belly button piercing to scar. It’s of utmost importance to get your belly button piercing done by a trained professional piercer. Follow the aftercare instructions given by your piercer carefully to avoid infection. Your belly button piercing is delicate while it is healing, so you need to protect it.
Physical trauma to the wound can make your skin overproduce collagen and cause scarring. Clothing rubbing against the piercing and debris such as sand can also irritate it. Due to the location, it’s easy to hit the piercing or pull on the jewelry, so be extra cautious to avoid injury.
Chemical irritation can also cause scarring. This includes cosmetic and personal care products. Some things to watch out for are fragrances, makeup, and self-tanner.
Do all belly button piercings scar?
All belly button piercings will leave some sort of mark. Piercings are inherently traumatic to the skin. You’re pushing a sharp piece of metal into your flesh and then placing jewelry in it to prevent the wound you created from closing. Your body then heals around the jewelry. Even with the best care, there will likely be some evidence of a piercing. Luckily, many scars will fade on their own and become barely noticeable with time.
If the thought of scars bothers you, think long and hard before getting your belly button pierced! Of course, there are treatments available to minimize scarring which we will discuss below.
Do belly button piercings ever go away?
The answer is – it depends. If your piercing is still fresh and new it can close very quickly.
Piercings to soft tissue like navels or ear lobes close easier than harder tissue like cartilage
If you remove your piercing after it’s healed, it can take several months to years to close.
Your body heals your piercing by forming a tube of scar tissue called a fistula. Even once completely healed, this fistula will thicken slightly over time,
If you have had your belly button piercing for many years it will never close. The hole may tighten but there will always be a visible hole.
What can you do to prevent them?
To keep scarring in your belly button piercing to a minimum, make sure to get your piercing done by a well-reviewed, professional piercer. If your anatomy isn’t suited for a belly button piercing, do not attempt to get one anyways. Clean your piercing gently according to your piercer’s instructions and keep all other products away from it. Do not touch your piercing while it is healing.
If you are prone to keloids, you may want to avoid getting pierced altogether.
Can you remove a scar once it’s occurred? How?
If your belly button piercing has a scar, it is possible to remove it or lessen its look. There are several options, including creams, oils, and even surgery.
Mederma, a cream made from onion skin extract, is a popular option. It is available online and in pharmacies. It costs $20 to $40 per ounce, depending on the size you purchase. Apply this by rubbing it into the scar, once a day.
Some oils, such as vitamin e, tea tree oil, and emu oil, may help prevent scarring.
Of course, topical treatments will only work on new scars. Once the piercing has formed a fistula and is aged, the only thing that will remove it is surgery. The procedure, called an umbilicoplasty, is straightforward and usually only requires local anesthetic. This procedure can be completed in an hour or less. The surgeon makes an incision around the belly button and removes the tissue containing the fistula. They then will suture the skin together. An umbilicoplasty will set you back approximately $2,500 to $5,000.
There are some other options, depending on the type of scar you have. Keloids can be treated with silicone dressings that flatten the tissue. Another option is injecting the scar with cortisone, which will help shrink it. Cryotherapy freezes the tissue and can reduce the hardness and size of the keloid. Lasers are used to flatten and fade keloids. As a last result, you can also get surgery to remove the keloid entirely. Consult a dermatologist to discover the right treatment for your scars.
If you’re looking to temporarily cover your belly button piercing hole, there is a product called Dermaflage. It is a silicon filler product, and ideal to use before occasions such as a photo shoot.
Does pregnancy cause a belly button piercing to scar?
Pregnancy can cause a belly button piercing to scar. The skin is stretching up and down and side to side and changing rapidly. As your flesh gets tauter to accommodate the growing baby, the piercing might pull on your skin, leading to small tears around your belly button and scarring.
If you’re planning on a pregnancy, remove the piercing 6 months before so your body can heal the piercing before it starts to stretch. This is the best option to minimize scarring.
If you’d like to keep the piercing, and it’s fully healed, that’s possible by changing the jewelry. Maternity jewelry is made out of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a flexible, nickel-free wire that expands as your body grows. Make sure to monitor your piercing throughout pregnancy for stretching, redness, soreness, and infection.
Are you able to re-pierce a belly button that has a scar?
It is possible to re-pierce a belly button that has a scar, but each case is different. Some belly buttons can be re-pierced to hide the scar. Swelling from the new piercing can help close the old one. The new piercing can also be done in a slightly different position to avoid the scar. This should only be attempted after the original piercing has healed. We recommend waiting at least a year.
However, if there has been a severe case of rejection or migration, a large amount of scar tissue may have formed. In this case, it’s not advisable to re-pierce the area. It will be more prone to rejection and tearing.