Getting a Body Piercing
Once considered extreme, body piercing is now mainstream and widely available in cities across the US. Most piercing studios take pride in their safe work practices and environment, but many states don't regulate piercing studios. Caveat emptor: Buyer beware. It's up to you to ensure that your piercing is done in a clean, sterile environment by a professional piercer.
Finding a Piercing Studio
Whether you want your ear, belly, or something a little more exotic pierced, finding a piercing studio takes some time and research. According to the Association of Professional Piercers, a good studio will have five separate areas: the counter, the waiting room, piercing rooms, a bathroom and a separate sterilization room.
If you open the phone book or conduct an Internet search, you'll probably be overwhelmed by the number of tattoo and piercing shops nearby. Word of mouth is a great starting point in narrowing down a quality piercer, so talk to your friends or even complete strangers on the street with really impressive body jewelry. If your homework turns up a studio that seems like a good bet, you may want to have a consultation with the piercer before the big day. Especially if you're relatively new to body piercing, it's worth the extra time (and perhaps expense) to see if you develop a rapport with the piercer and whether he conducts himself professionally.
While there for your piercing appointment or for the consultation, it's perfectly fine to ask a lot of questions. A good piercer will encourage you to do so. After all, your health is at stake. Piercers should be able to tell you how they maintain a sterile environment and even show you the equipment. This is your opportunity to take a close look at the studio before having your piercing done. Check out the floors, tables, chairs, and counters to make sure everything is scrupulously clean. Your observations may make the difference between an awesome piece of jewelry and an infection.
Getting It Done
From start to finish, the process of belly piercing is quick. However, you are getting a needle poked through your skin, so it's not completely painless. Everyone feels pain differently: It may bring a tear to your eye or feel like a pinch, but in 10-30 seconds (depending on the technique) it's over.
Before the piercer starts, he or she will walk you through the procedure, and you'll sign a waiver. Next, she'll clean your skin with a sterile solution or with iodine, which leaves a yellowish tint on the skin and is nothing to worry about. The piercer will draw dots with a marker to show you where your body jewelry will be. Make sure everything is aligned just right. Don't be shy about voicing concerns or questions if you have them; after it's done is too late! A professional won't be upset if you want to make adjustments or need a little more info. A small clamp may be used to keep your skin tight and guide the needle. Hold your breath, grit your teeth, and it is done. Your new jewelry will slide into place, the needle removed, and a bandage applied.
Learn about what to do after you have your awesome new belly ring in our piercing care section.