Sure, you ~can~ get a belly button piercing with an outie, but whether or not it’s a good idea is another story.
It really depends on whether you have enough skin above — or sometimes below — your outie to pierce.
You can have an outie and still have enough skin to accommodate a navel piercing above your nub — which is the most common placement for a navel piercing — or just below it.
To figure out whether you’re a candidate for a belly button piercing, stand in front of a mirror and look at the skin immediately above the center of your belly button. For there to be space for the piercing, you should have a good lip of skin that you can pinch (gently) and feel the front and back of.
There should be enough space above and below that little flap of skin for the jewel to sit without pulling or placing too much pressure on your nub.
If you’re open to having the piercing placed below your belly button, the same goes as far as having a well-defined flap of skin just below the center of your navel.
If you’re not sure, an experienced piercer can check and tell you for sure.
A true navel piercing goes through the tissue of your outie rather than the surface skin just above or below it. If aren’t a candidate for a traditional belly button piercing, you can talk to your piercer about this as an option. Just know that they might not be willing to do it.
Your belly button is basically your first scar. Whether an innie, an outie, or an inbetweenie, it’s essentially scar tissue, and piercing through it is a little more complicated than a with typical skin surface piercing.
As far as piercings go, belly button piercings typically heal more slowly than other piercings — anywhere from 9 to 12 months.
There are a few things that contribute to the slow healing.
For one, the skin around the navel receives very little blood flow, making it harder to heal.
Also, the location of the piercing is subjected to a lot of movement from regular bending, folding, and stretching, not to mention all the friction from waistbands.
With an outie, poor piercing placement by an inexperienced piercer or extra pressure on your outie from the jewelry will only slow healing even more.
The longer a piecing takes to heal, the more likely you are to have complications.
Speaking of complications, here are some potential ones to be aware of when you get pierced:
- Infection. A fresh piercing is an open wound and therefore vulnerable to infection. This is especially true for an outie or traditional belly button piercing. Bloodborne infections like tetanus, hepatitis B and C, and HIV are also possible if contaminated needles are used. A reputable piercer, sterile needles and equipment, and proper aftercare can reduce the risk.
- Allergic reaction. It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to nickel and other metals used in jewelry. Sticking with materials approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) can prevent this. This includes materials like implant-grade stainless steel or titanium and solid 14-karat gold or higher.
- Tearing. Your jeans and even your favorite sweats can catch on your jewelry and cause — ouch — tearing, especially when you’re active. The APP recommends applying a hard eye patch (sold online or at pharmacies) over the piercing under tight clothing or secured with elastic bandage during physical activities. FYI: They’re talking about stuff like contact sports, but it’s not a bad idea during sex, either.
- Keloids. Keloids are a type of raised scar that can form after skin trauma, like a piercing. They can develop up to 3 months after the piercing and continue to grow for years. They’re not serious but can cause pain and itching while they’re growing. If you’re prone to keloids, you may want to skip piercings all together.
- Rejection. A piercing rejection happens when your body treats the jewelry like a foreign invader and tries to push it out. Not having enough tissue to properly accommodate a piercing ups the chance of rejection.
Any procedure that involves puncturing tissue should be performed by a skilled and experienced professional. This is especially important with a piercing that’s notorious for slow healing and complications and even more so if your anatomy isn’t just right for this particular piercing.
An experienced piercer will know what to look for when determining whether you’re a good candidate for the piercing. They’ll also be able to offer alternatives if a belly button piercing is no-go.
Use these tips to help you find a reputable piercer:
- Ask family and friends who’ve been pierced for a referral, or search for registered members of the APP on their website.
- Book a consultation with a potential piercer first, and ask to see their credentials and portfolio. Have them evaluate your outie to see whether a belly button piercing is right for you.
- Check out the studio to make sure it’s clean and that the employees are professional and practicing proper healthy and safety measures.
Belly buttons come in all shapes and sizes, and they’re all “normal.” But outies can be particularly challenging when it comes to piercing. An experienced piercer can tell you whether yours is right for piercing and provide alternative placements if not.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.