A navel or belly button is the remnant of your former umbilical cord.
There are a lot of different anatomical variations of the belly button that go beyond the simple “innie” and “outie” classifications.
Check out the different appearances below and find out what you can do if you don’t like what your button looks like.
Your belly button is one of the unique attributes that makes you, you. While the following are some common variations in appearance, there are lots of different belly button shapes.
Protruding belly buttons are often called “outies.” An estimated 10 percent of the population has an outie belly button with the remainder having an “innie,” according to a chapter in the eBook Umbilicus and Umbilical Cord.
An outie occurs when the remaining portion of the umbilical stump, where your umbilical cord was attached, goes out instead of in.
A deep hollow belly button will typically appear if there’s a shadow underneath the belly button’s top fold.
This belly button type resembles a slightly open mouth. Some people in this category may have a “funnel” belly button, which is common with excess abdominal fat.
Vertical (typically narrow)
Some doctors call a vertical belly button a “split” belly button because it looks like the portion of the stomach makes a slight up-and-down split.
A vertical belly button typically has very little hooding over its top, instead looking much like an “I” imprinted in the skin. A vertical belly button is the most common belly button type, according to an article from 2010.
Horizontal (typically narrow)
Also known as a T-type belly button, a horizontal belly button has most of the belly button fold going horizontally. A depression at the top of the belly button may look like the line that crosses a “T.”
This belly button type differs from a deep hollow belly button because the top portion of skin almost completely covers the innermost portion of the belly button.
A round belly button isn’t quite an outie belly button — but it’s close.
A round belly button is still concave or protruding inward. However, it doesn’t have any hooding or covering, instead it appears symmetrically rounded.
A light bulb-shaped belly button has very little hooding on the top, with a slightly oval shape that narrows as it goes down — much like a light bulb.
Some people also compare a light bulb-shaped belly button to an upside-down beer or wine bottle.
The belly button is the remnant of where the umbilical cord connected a baby to its mother during pregnancy. The button is where the cord joined the body.
The umbilical cord has several key blood vessels that provide nutrients and oxygen to a growing fetus.
When you were born and no longer needed the umbilical cord, a doctor (or sometimes a loved one with the assistance of a doctor) cut the umbilical cord. They then placed a little clamp over it.
The remaining umbilical stump usually falls off in about 2 weeks (sometimes longer) after birth. What remains is your navel or belly button, a leftover of where and how your umbilical cord decided to attach.
Medical conditions that increase your chances of having an “outie”
Some people may have medical conditions in infancy that increase the likelihood they’ll have an outie belly button.
- an umbilical hernia, where the muscles around the belly button don’t grow together properly and the belly button “pops” out
- an umbilical granuloma, where tissue can create a crusting on the belly button and cause it to get bigger
Interestingly enough, belly buttons aren’t usually proportional to a person’s height or overall size. For example, a tall person can have a very small belly button while a short person can have a relatively larger one.
What DOESN’T determine the shape of your belly button
Let’s talk about what belly button shapes aren’t:
- They aren’t the result of the way a doctor cut or clamped the umbilical cord.
- They also aren’t the result of the way your parents cared for the little umbilical cord left over after you were born. In his book, Dr. Mohamed Fahmy calls the umbilical cord an “anatomical wild card.”
Just when you think you’ve heard it all, some people out there believe they can predict your life expectancy or tell things about your personality based on your belly button.
It doesn’t take a lot of Googling to know this isn’t true (although it is very, very funny).
Instead of reviewing your belly button to consider your potential life span, we encourage you to consider other, more scientific-based factors such as family history, chronic conditions, and lifestyle habits.
Pregnancy can cause the uterus to place extra pressure on the belly button. Because a belly button is essentially a weak point in the abdomen, the extra pressure could cause an “innie” belly button to become an “outie.” However, this occurrence usually reverts after a woman gives birth.
Some women do notice their belly button changes shape after pregnancy. Typically, the belly button will appear “shorter” or less vertical, according to one 2010 article.
Also, the belly button may appear wider or more horizontal.
Several plastic surgery approaches exist that can help you achieve a more aesthetically pleasing belly button. When a surgeon revises your current belly button, they call the surgery an umbilicoplasty.
When they perform surgery to create a new belly button (if you don’t have one due to surgery at birth or later in life), they call this procedure a neoumbilicoplasty.
Doctors can perform this procedure under local or general anesthesia. (Local is when you’re not asleep, general is when you are).
A doctor should carefully review your goals with you and explain how your belly button may change in size, shape, or location following surgery.
A belly button piercing actually pierces the skin directly above the belly button, making the name of this type of piercing slightly misleading.
With this in mind, there isn’t a certain belly button type that can or can’t have a piercing. As long as you have skin above your belly button (and we’re pretty sure you do), an experienced piercer should be able to pierce the belly button.
This isn’t to say there shouldn’t be some caution involved with belly button piercings. You’ll want an experienced piercer who knows how to stay away from key nerves and blood vessels that are around your belly button.
You’ll also want to avoid someone who uses a piercing gun, as they can’t be as precise as a person who uses a needle. In addition, the needle, and the area being pierced must be properly sterilized.
It’s worth noting that an improperly placed piercing can put too much pressure on the belly button, possibly turning an innie into an outie. Be sure to discuss this concern with your piercer.
Belly buttons are naturally different and can be round, wide, deep, or many other variations.
If you don’t like the way yours looks, there are surgical procedures that can help. However, it’s completely normal to have variation in what your naval looks like.
Enjoy how your belly button is a unique aspect of you that you may not have taken the time to appreciate before.