A navel keloid might appear as a thick, raised scar after belly button piercing or injury. These unsightly bumps usually look shiny, vary in color from pink to purple, and tend to migrate from the piercing site to nearby healthy skin. The keloid might increase in size over time, with itching and discomfort common symptoms. Several treatment options might reduce the size and color of a keloid, but typically fail to completely remove scar tissue.
Doctors remain unsure why keloids form in some people but not in others. Patients who developed these types of scars in the past face higher risks of another keloid forming. The condition might run in families, and more women tend to acquire a navel keloid, but the scars might be linked to more navel piercings by females. People with dark skin might also develop these scars more often. There is no way to predict in advance if a navel keloid might develop after surgery or belly-button piercing.
Scars form on skin after injury or surgical procedures. Normal scarring tends to lighten and become less noticeable as the wound heals. Keloids differ because they often spread to adjacent skin and commonly grow larger. The risk of keloids after navel piercing increases when heavy jewelry is worn, in obese patients, and for women in the last stage of pregnancy, when skin stretches.
Curved navel jewelry in the shape of a barbell might lessen the chance of a keloid developing while the site heals, which could take up to a year. These types of scars might also appear on the earlobes, face, or any area of the body that is pierced. A keloid might also form from severe acne, burns, or other injury to the skin surface.
Several treatment options might reduce the appearance of a keloid, usually by flattening the surface and reducing discoloration. Cortisone injections might help, but in some cases the scars get darker. Laser treatment might address increased redness, but typically some dark areas remain. Several laser sessions might be needed to treat the condition.
Some doctors consider surgery to remove a navel keloid risky because additional scars might develop after one is excised, and new scarring might appear larger than the original keloid. Some patients opt for a combination of surgery, steroid injections, and radiation to treat these defects. Others choose interferon injections or chemotherapy as treatment options. Interferon, which represents a substance produced by the body’s immune system, might decrease the size of a scar.
Freezing a navel keloid with liquid nitrogen might also work. A scar treated with this method usually becomes flatter but darker in color. Silicone gel sheets that compress the navel might take months to reduce the appearance of scarring, with varying results.