Could getting your belly button pierced have serious side effects? Do you know about a heart problem it could cause?
Yes, body piercing can lead to a heart problem — but the risk apparently occurs only among people with pre-existing heart conditions. There is a chance that bacteria will enter the bloodstream through the wound. In people who have damage to the heart, particularly the heart valves, bacteria may pool up in the damaged area, causing an infection of the heart and heart value lining called bacterial endocarditis.
The potential for other serious effects exists as well. Piercing procedures and instruments that are not sterile can lead to bacterial infections, such as staph and tetanus, and may transmit viral infections, such as Hepatitis B and C. There is also a slight risk of transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Localized bacterial infections may cause pain and discomfort and lead to scarring. You may have an allergic skin reaction to certain materials in the jewelry. The jewelry may get snagged on something and tear the skin. You might also suffer a gash in your skin if something hits you hard enough in the navel. By the way, you probably won’t be able to donate blood for a year after the piercing.
While I am not a big fan of body piercing, I know it’s popular and, for adults, the decision is a personal one. I would advise against body piercing if you are involved in team sports or other activities where there is a great deal of physical contact, chance of injury or blows to the navel. When it comes to piercing bellybuttons, you should know that “outies” can be more problematic than “innies”.
Should you decide to go ahead with this, take precautions to reduce the health risks. Talk with your doctor beforehand. If you have a heart condition, you will probably need antibiotics. It’s possible that your own doctor performs piercings or knows another physician who does. Also ask your doctor about the appropriate care for a pierced navel.
If you can’t find a physician to do it, check out prospective piercing studios thoroughly. They should be perfectly willing to answer any and all questions you have about cleanliness, sanitary practices and types of jewelry used. Ask if the facility is certified by the Association of Professional Piercers.
A piercing or tattoo facility should have an autoclave to sterilize instruments. Sterilization should be done after each use. Disposable items, such as needles and latex gloves, should be used once, then thrown away. Don’t pick a studio that uses piercing guns, which cannot be sterilized adequately.
Self-care after the belly-button piercing mostly means keeping the wound clean and leaving it alone as much as possible. Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing over your navel and don’t sleep on your stomach. Watch for signs of infection or allergy. And be patient. It may take months for the wound to heal completely.