When I was 22 years old, I went on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Las Vegas with two of my best friends. One of us came back with a tattoo, two of us came back with body piercings, and one of us came back with the knowledge that her friends were very, very stupid. I was not the latter. My belly button was pierced.
For a while, I liked it. I was young with a cute little stomach I didn’t appreciate enough, and the belly ring was my “I am a grown up and can make adult decisions about my own body!” statement. Which I suppose is better than a face tattoo or sleeping around.
I was crazy about keeping it clean and infection-free. But it was a belly button ring, and I was 22 and cheap. I bought a ten dollar ring that had a sparkly moon and dangling star on one end, and a ball on the other that screwed on and off for easy removal. I put that ring through my piercing, and never changed it out.
A few years later, I heard a horror story about a girl whose belly button piercing had stretched and expanded when she was pregnant. I wanted to vomit. Yeah, I was only 26, but I knew I was going to be with Mike forever and who knew when we’d want to start our family. My only way to avoid further disfigurement was to remove the ring and give my belly as much time as possible to heal.
I went to twist off the ball that secured the ring, but it wouldn’t budge. “Just a little stuck,” I thought. I tried harder, and harder, and harder. I started to get alarmed. No movement at all. During the four years I’d worn the ten dollar sparkly moon belly ring, the ball had rusted closed.
I panicked. I was going to have this stupid moon ring in my stomach forever! And it was missing a rhinestone so it was even MORE tacky! I considered calling 9-1-1, but someone talked me out of it. I tried WD-40…FYI, that stuff will burn your skin.
There was only one option that I could think of that didn’t require hospital personnel or EMTs – my parents. But there was a catch…neither of my parents were even aware of its existence. But they were my parents, and they always had the answers. I just hoped the answer they had didn’t involve murdering me..
I seriously considered going to my grave with the sparkly moon ring. Maybe I’d replace the dangling star, which had fallen off years earlier. I’d bring moon and star jewelry back into style!
Finally I got up the nerve and went to my parents’ house. My mom “tsk tsk’d” me and shook her head. My dad just looked at me silently, then left the room. I felt like I was 13 and had just been busted for climbing out of my bedroom window.
Suddenly, my dad reentered the room with a few tools. One was a pair of pliers. “What are you doing?!,” I said as he grabbed the moon between the needle nose. With his other hand, he grabbed a pair of the scariest looking scissors I’ve ever seen. “DON’T CUT MY STOMACH!!!!” I screamed. In a swift motion, he placed the bottom of the ring inside the scissors and squeezed. I shrieked.
He cut through the post like it was made of butter. I was free! I had my belly back! He left the room, having not said a word. I looked at my mom. She shrugged her shoulders.
I pulled the sparkly moon out of the top of my piercing. “Aw! I think I’ll put it in my jewelry box.”
“THROW. IT. AWAY.” My mother said.
The ring was removed in time. My belly had time to heal and the scar didn’t stretch out during my pregnancies. But I still think back wistfully to a time when I bought ten dollar jewelry and had no sense for quality merchandise.
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
You are too funny!
Now just imagine how you will react when Annie does something similar
I got my tongue pierced when I was 18. The guy I was dating at the time suggested we both get one, I thought it was SO romantic!!!! I know, I know…the things we do!! Anyway, it didn’t rust, but the skin on the under part of my tongue started to grow down around the bar! I removed it when I was 20 and my tongue is back to normal thankfully!!! Whats sad is when I got it done, I actually thought I could hide it from my parents. Even when my tongue swelled to about twice it’s normal size and I could barely talk, I thought “they’ll never know!” Yeah, it took my Mom all of like 5 seconds to figure it out!! LOVE YOU MOMMY!
you have awesome sense of humor:))
I posted a few weeks back about getting my daughter’s ears pierced. We went to a proper studio and spent about $50 per child on the equipment alone… at least I know they’re good studs.
People don’t take it very seriously but they should, especially when piercing children. Mine were old enough to ask for it and want it done….
A friend of mine had the same problem with a tongue piercing, except she *had* to go to the emergency room because it was in her mouth and not her belly. It was also against the regulations at her work places so it needed to be done ASAP. Good times!
I had almost the exact same thing happen to me. I still remember the terror I felt when my dad walked back into the kitchen with tools! Dads always seem to come to the rescue.
Its true, Dad’s always know what to do in these types of situations. Except my parents, sarcastic as they are, would have been cracking jokes the whole time and making me believe the rust was leaching through my bloodstream and slowly killing me. At that age, I would have believed them!
Jaime Maynard says:
I am not so lucky…My belly button piercing scar did stretch, and formed a weird butterfly looking scar around my navel. Oh well, between that and all the other stretch marks, I won’t be entering a bikini contest anytime soon.
Awesome story! LOL
That’s hilarious! I think I got mine out in time, but I was more than halfway through my pregnancy when I did. I’d never taken it out, either, and when I tried to get it out and it didn’t seem like it was going to budge, I was convinced that I would be the only 9 months pregnant lady with a belly button ring and how would I be able to hide THAT! Fortunately, I got it off. I still have it and when Hadley asks what it is, I just say it’s a ring that’s too small for my finger now.
Good old Dad. They DO always seem to have the answers, don’t they?
Similar thing happened to me – except I used the tools given to me by my dad to remove my tension ring myself. Not sure that’s what he intended when he gave me that toolbox made up of all his extra tools, but it sure did come in handy! To this day, he never knew about the piercing which is great since he would have seriously kicked my ass!
Mommy Boots says:
This reminds me of when I got my eyebrow pierced when I was 19. I wasn’t allowed to have one at work so I had to keep changing it from a clear plastic retainer to a barbell.. which is a no no during the 6 week healing process. I ended up knocking the barbell out one night and when I tried to put it back through, my piercing had swollen and I couldn’t get it all the way through either way. I cried hysterically mostly because I was so grossed out but a little part of me was mourning for the loss of my favorite piercing. I still have a scar from the piercing. I’m also glad I no longer have said piercing for my 15 month old to, you know. Rip out of my face.
Lea T says:
I wore mine for 16 years, I think, and through 5 full term pregnancies. I took it out for my last one just because. No scars or anything bad for me, though. I don’t regret it at all and would do it again if I ever thought my stomach would be flat again
that should be a scene in a movie….
Oh my gosh, I would have been freaked out having it stuck in me too! In 7th grade I got my ears pierced (with mom’s approval of course) but decided I didn’t like it- only try as I might, I couldn’t take out the starter earrings. I had to go to the doctor. Embarrassing. I guess I should have asked my dad! I just got up the courage to get them pierced again this year (I’m 24)!
Amanda Joy says:
At least you got your’s pierced at a reputable place. I pierced my own bellybutton with an earring, my girls camp Swiss Army Knife, and no numbing agent. Nothing was sterilized, I was in 7th grade and stupid. No wonder it got infected:)
I have had nothing but my ears pierced. I also have never gotten a tattoo. Too chicken.
Oh gosh, just the thought of anything belly-button related freaks me out. Mainly because I decided to get my belly button pierced at the age of 20 (4 years ago)… of course I didn’t tell my parents. It was fantastic, I was so grown up… I was super careful about keeping it clean, I only used surgical steel rings in it… I didnt change it actually. But I was very.particular.at.keeping.it.clean.and.doing.things.right!
So needless to say it got infected. Then worse. And worse. Eventually I could no longer stand, and if I wasnt laying on my side I was crying in agony. I had had enough, and had to get that sucker out! Being that it was so sore, trying to unscrew the ball was like a million knives of fire stabbing me in the tummy… when it finally came out it was ALMOST instant relief. However, four years later I STILL have problems with it! It still gets infected occasionally (bearing in mind there is no ring in it… nor will there ever be again!)
Belly Button piercings suck in my mind. I actually do envy others who have them and they look gorgeous and non-gross like mine did. Its sheer jealousy…. but I am glad you got yours out.
I remember I had my labret pierced and had to go for surgery so my dad had to take the pliers/scissors to it… i freaked that he was going to mangle my face!!
Ahh, piercings. Why did I insist on getting them!!
Advice from a piercer and tattoo artist…
Ah – you did the cardinal sin!
When you have an infected piercing, you should always leave the jewelry in place; it keeps the channel open and allows the infection to drain.
If you remove the jewelry, the skin will heal or swell closed, trapping the infection inside. This creates an abscess — a pocket of infection that won’t heal properly. That’s what you have in your belly button. Since it’s been there for so long, and the tissue has been stretched and damaged by the infection, it will never heal on its own.
The abscess is waxing and waning according to your immune system strength. The only remedy: you’ll need to have the abscess and the damaged tissue removed surgically. It sounds big and scary, but they’ll just numb it up and snip out the affected portion and sew it back up. It’ll take less than five minutes. They can do it in virtually any doctor’s office.
I’d recommend it though, as it will never heal on its own. You’ll experience flares for the rest of your life (or as long as the abscess remains.) And there’s a good chance the infection will spread and you may need actual reconstructive surgery.
So a word to anyone with a piercing: if it gets infected, DON’T TAKE IT OUT! Leave it in place (though if there’s swelling and the jewelry is cutting into your flesh, you will need to get a bigger ring/barbell/etc.
Wash it three times a day with surgical scrub (or antibacterial soap like Dial), twirling the ring as you wash for 5 full minutes. Liberally apply antibiotic ointment and cover the area loosely with a band aid to protect your clothing from the ointment (Loosely is key — the band aid is to protect your clothing, not the wound. The infection should not be bandaged, as decreased air flow promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria.)
Then, go to your doctor to get oral antibiotics. Don’t mess around with this sort of infection. You have a 50% chance it will improve on its own; and a 50% chance it will get worse. If the latter occurs, you get a significant abscess, they will need to cut it open and insert packing to allow for healing. In severe cases, they may need to cut out the damaged and infected tissue; you may require reconstructive surgery.
Or you may end up with chronic infections like Kara.
I hope your belly heals up soon, Kara!
Thanks for your reply – it does sound scary!
I knew I was committing the cardinal sin of removing it, but once I couldn’t physically stand up anymore I had to get it out to be able to move!! I felt it was my only option!
Glad to know that a minor procedure may fix it… it was bugging me why it was still bad! I kinda wish I had have kept it in, but when I think back to it I am still glad I got rid of it!! It did turn me off piercings (haha but I got a few tattoos since… shhh, dont tell my dad!).
Thanks Madi! You rock!!
LOL. I had the same thing happen to me. My dad was none too pleased but it was the only way to get it off!
Lyndsay Cool Legumes says:
Oh the things we do when we’re 22 and stupid. I had a belly ring too, but then four months after I had it done, I had to wear a tight dress for my Aunt’s wedding and the little bump was protruding. I took the ring out, but I couldn’t ever get it back in. It closed up and that was it.
When my Dad saw it the first thing he asked was if I lost a bet. Sigh, parents.
Lol mine almost got stuck as well. I also swallowed my tongue ring ball and freaked out! Wait till Annie comes up with stuff like that!
I was a shockingly well behaved child. I didn’t get any tattoos or piercings. AND didn’t sleep around. Didn’t do drugs or drink. Makes me want to go out now and do it all at the ripe age of *cough*.
Kristin (MamaKK922) says:
Ha Ha You always make me laugh. This was so funny especially when you thought you father was going to cunt into you for getting pierced. I only laugh because I do would have thought the same exact thing.
Shannon O says:
The really funny thing is that when I finished reading your post, the advertisement under your story was “Half off your next tattoo in Dallas”. Too funny!
Haven’t I seen belly rings advertised in the back of my parenting magazines? Ones that dangle and say things like, “It’s a girl!”? You could have always put a new one in and gone that route.
Love this story. I would have paid good money to see the look on your dad’s face.
Okay, here’s the deal with belly button piercings and pregnancy, from a piercer and tattoo artist…
It’s the stretchy-ness of your skin that determines whether you’ll end up with a problem. Therefore, scar tissue is the primary determiner of whether you’ll experience issues during pregnancy.
Others never really form scar tissue to begin with; they can leave a piercing in throughout their pregnancy and everything will “bounce back” to normal after pregnancy.
Some people form lots of scar tissue around a piercing, and it takes years to soften up, heal and regain elasticity. Removing your piercing doesn’t really make a difference. In fact, it can make it worse. Here’s why. You get a piercing, it heals, and scar tissue begins to fade away over time. Then, you remove the piercing. Well, the healed piercing begins to close up…any time healing occurs, scar tissue forms. So you’re creating *new* scar tissue!
The newer the scar tissue, the less flexible it is. The more prone you are to developing problems during/after pregnancy.
Also, if you happen to get an infection during healing, you’re f&$#@d. Infections result in thick, dense scar tissue.
So, if you’re pregnant, visit an experienced piercer or consult a physician before removing the piercing. If it’s healthy and fairly free of scar tissue, you’re better off leaving it in place throughout the pregnancy. If you no longer want it, wait until *after* the pregnancy.
There are other factors too, like skin type and race. Darker skin types and olive skin types tend to form more scar tissue and it lasts longer. So the darker your skin, the higher your chances are of developing issues due to pregnancy if you remove a navel piercing right before or during pregnancy; you’re better off leaving it in.
In most cases, your best bet is to leave the piercing in place. Get an appropriate piece of jewelry, designed specifically for pregnancy (wearing the wrong jewelry can cause the skin to stretch and pull in inappropriate ways).
And work to break down the scar tissue that’s present. There are all sorts of scar remedies, but I’ve found that the most effective method is the most simple — remove the jewelry for a few minutes, break open a vitamin E capsule and use the oil to massage your navel and surrounding area for about 20-30 minutes per day. Easy stuff. This will keep the skin stretchy, it will break down the scar tissue and it will improve blood flow, which improves healing.
But don’t just yank out your jewelry…in most cases, it’s the wrong choice and you’ll be more prone to problems as your belly grows!
I’m not sure if this relates to what you’re saying, but I noticed that nobody has mentioned it from what I have read yet . . .
My biggest regret with piercings is that my scar tissue became a medical condition called KELOIDS. They don’t stop scarring. It isn’t just annoying tissue, it got bigger over time. It flares up and can be irritating (only happened in one ear).
I went to piercers afterwards (it developed years later), who didn’t know what it was, and thought it was an infection and handled it poorly. I should have went to a doctor sooner. There isn’t much they can do for keloids that’s certain to help. Now, I’m hesitant to remove my piercings (ears or belly), for fear that keloids will form elsewhere in the healing process.
Ugh. Piercings are a big regret for me, and I have a tattoo! But I never could have known it would be a keloid in my future.
Absolutely! You’re absolutely correct, Katie.
Keloids are a form of scarring; it’s more of a chronic issue. They’re primarily seen in individuals with dark or olive skin tone (as I mentioned previously, these individuals are already prone to scarring.) But they can occur in anyone.
They’re also more apt to occur on areas where scar tissue has already developed, so when you close up the piercing, you’re more apt to end up with a keloid. Just another reason why you should avoid removing piercings before pregnancy!!
Typically, they’re chronic and they get worse over time. And unfortunately, you’re right — you can’t do much! That’s the cruel part about them; normally, you’d surgically remove a growth, but you’d risk making it worse!
I’m so sorry to hear that you went to a piercer, but they didn’t recognize it as a keloid. That’s very unfortunate and it upsets me, as they *should* have known (they have a very characteristic appearance too). You have to take *tons* of classes before getting certified and licensed as a piercer or tattoo artist. We learn about scarring, skin structure and function, infection, skin conditions, blood-borne disease, etc. I recall that there was an entire unit on keloids; in fact, we had an exam on keloids! It seems that someone failed to pay attention in class; I’m sorry you had to suffer because of it. It makes us all look bad.
In fact, in individuals with olive or darker skin tones, I always ask them if they’ve ever developed a keloid before piercing or tattooing; if not, I mention the possibility *before* we do anything, so they can make an informed decision (just as I discuss the potential for infection). Keloids and “scarring” are actually mentioned on the fine print of the waiver sheet that you sign, but I suspect that few people actually read it.
Thanks for sharing the info! If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love if you could e-mail so I don’t fill this wall with keloid questions. It’s rare to find someone I can ask about them, even though I have been to a doctor. If not, no problem! Otherwise, you can e-mail me at email@example.com
Katrina @ They All Call Me Mom says:
My 15 year old wants to get a belly ring on her 16th birthday. But she’s torn between wanting one and NOT wanting it to stretch and look ugly when she has babies one day. I think I’ll have her read this post and all the comments and she can decide for herself
I think belly rings are really, really cute. I’ve never had one, though. I’m 41 years old and have birthed 8 babies and there’s no way I want to “flaunt” my belly now. And when I DID have a cute little belly, back in the day, belly rings were not popular. So I missed that boat. Oh well.
Holli (B's Mom) says:
This is a great story!
FYI- I would much rather my kids get something pierced than tattooed. A piercing you can take out (hopefully ) but a tattoo is forever.
Ha! My first thought was “she should have tried WD-40!”
Great minds think alike!
When I lived in FL while my husband was going to university down there I would often consider a belly button ring, but you what, I was always afraid of what would happen if it got stuck and I couldn’t get it off. I went with an earring at the top of my ear instead, it felt safer.
I love your dad’s reaction. We won’t discuss it or talk about it, I’ll just do what I have to, to get it off, and then I don’t want to hear about it again. Gotta love dads.
Walkingborder (Karen) says:
I wanted to get my belly button pierced for the longest time, but my mom always said I had to wait until I was an adult. 18 came and went, and I never really got the chance. On my 19th birthday I found out I was pregnant with my oldest. My belly hasn’t been cute and tiny since. Now it would be, well, gross. Oh well.
Almost 9 years later and I’m pregnant with my 3rd and last, and just found out it’s a girl. (First two were boys.) And honestly, if she wants to get her belly pierced, I’ll probably let her, if her father is in agreement. It isn’t permanent. It’s covered at times it would be inappropriate (office job or whatever) and well, I’m a little bit laid back.
Um, kinda related: When my husband and I were at the local zoo while pregnant with my oldest, we kept seeing this little boy who had to have been around 7, with spiked blue hair. We joked that we wanted a wild Caucasian blue hair of our own. This summer we are making it happen. Our 8yo is THRILLED!
A long article about rusty belly button ring. I also had belly button ring, I took i t off when I got pregnant and even if I have taken it off the hole from my belly ring became so ugly as the tummy got bigger. It’s been 5 years and I still haven’t got a new belly ring for my belly button because I am scared that the hole will just get even uglier.
Ok, this scared the bajeezus out of me because I have had my belly button pierced for several years now, and I have never taken the jewelry out. I think it’s been something like 4 years. And I could never get the ball unscrewed but I figured it was just on there really well, it never occured to me it might be RUSTED CLOSED. I’m happy to report that with some latex gloves it came right off, lol! I had another moment of panic when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it back in but it’s back, and not screwed on so tight, haha. I’ve had my tongue pierced and my nose is pierced, I’ve actually had my nose and belly button pierced twice, my parents are used to it. Plus my 20 year old sister has 5 tattoos, so my piercings all pale in comparison
Oh my goodness, hilarious! I can picture it all right now. Thank you. love, Val
I am a total chicken and would never be able to do any belly button or other piercings, but when I was a girl I soo wanted to get my ears pierced. I was about 10 I think the first time I did and it was soo scary! Needless to say, my ears reacted to the cheap earrings I put in after the studs came out and one got infected. My dad has never been a real hands-on “daddy” type, but he was the only one that I would let touch my earrings to get them out. Not even my mom could do it without feeling like my head was getting ripped off. My mom counseled me that if I didn’t get the good studs put back in, the holes would close up again. I was so traumatized at that point that I didn’t care.
2 or 3 years later when I got the guts up to re-pierce them, it was again my dad who had to get the studs off after the healing period. I learned my lesson that time and only put good quality earrings in…..on the very few occasions that I actually WEAR earrings. And just let me tell you…..piercing over old scar tissues HURTS!
Jenny J. Setiawan says:
Thank you for this good post.
You make me remember my childhood.
You are funny!
Thank you for making me laugh today
Your post reminded me of something that I often think about but never have the guts to do. I had the upper cartillage in my ear pierced when I was 18, and a decade later I still have the original loop and ball in place, never removed since that fateful day. I’ve been thinking for years about how I need to remove it, but like you, I know I will have to ask my Dad or husband to remove it with sharp tools, and well, I really like my ears and want to keep both of them. So this ring might be sticking around for a while……
That’s hilarious. I also got my bellybutton pierced–on a spring break trip my senior year of high school with three friends (one friend also pierced her naval, another got a tattoo on her butt). A trip to Breckenridge. Because it totally makes sense to pierce your belly button and then put on ski pants and a winter coat. My parents found out about it upon our return. They were relieved it wasn’t a tattoo, but my dad didn’t speak to me for three days. (Which totally surprised me because I was all “What’s the big deal, Dad?”) I took it out a couple of years ago for the same reason you did (mine was a pink rhinestone–so classy). It really was a bad decision, I suppose, but I think I’d do it again. You only get to be young and stupid with a flat stomach once….