Does it hurt to get pierced?
There is a small amount of pain, but usually not as much as people anticipate.
People often say that the procedure was considerably less painful than
they thought it would be.
Can you numb the area before doing the piercing?
Only properly licensed medical professionals can legally administer injectable
and topical anesthetics. In addition, a properly performed piercing by
a knowledgeable professional hurts far less than such an injection.
How long will it take my piercing to heal?
Healing times will vary from piercing to piercing. The healing time will
also vary depending on your body's own rate of healing, and the care the
piercing is given. The following can significantly lengthen your healing
time: touching the piercing with unwashed hands, moving the jewelry throughout
the day, contact with bodily fluids, and using inappropriate cleaning
How long before I can take the jewelry out
and not lose the hole?
There are two stages in healing a piercing. After the initial healing
time, the piercing will be healed enough that you will be able to have
your piercer change the jewelry, at which time s/he can instruct you on
how to change it yourself in the future. However, it takes significantly
longer for the new skin inside the piercing to toughen up enough for you
to safely remove your jewelry for extended periods of time. The hole will
begin to shrink down as soon as you remove the jewelry. The amount of
time it takes for your piercing to shrink down to the point where you
would be unable to reinsert your jewelry will vary. Never force a piece
of jewelry into your piercing; obtain an insertion taper, or go to a professional
piercer to have your jewelry reinserted or changed.
What are the chances of my piercing becoming
If you are pierced by a professional piercer and follow the aftercare
procedures your chances of infection are virtually nonexistent. Your piercer
should go to great lengths to ensure that you leave the studio with full
understanding of appropriate aftercare and no unanswered questions. There
are some conditions that are not infections, though they may appear to
be. These can include reactions to the cleaning agents you are using or
to the metal itself. Should any problems arise, your piercer should be
happy to consult with you and offer suggestions based on their experience.
S/he should never discourage you from consulting your physician, if that
is your desire.
What about sex with genital piercings?
Piercings that are still healing must be protected from contamination
during sexual activities. A good quality condom or dental dam is vital
to protect your piercing from contact with other people's body fluids.
Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, contact with body fluids
will greatly increase the chance of infection. After being pierced you
can have sex, depending on how the tenderness of the piercing affects
your desire for sexual activity. Patience and creativity are important.
And remember to always use protection!
Will I be able to breast-feed a baby with a
Remove jewelry when breast feeding to avoid injury to the piercing and
for maximum comfort for both mother and child. Beads, balls, rings and
barbells are choking hazards for infants if they come loose accidentally.
If you have a well healed piercing, the jewelry should be easy to remove
and reinsert. Before removing the jewelry remember to wash your hands
with antibacterial soap. If this is not always possible, carry disposable,
germicidal, nontoxic hand wipes with you. Be sure to lay your jewelry
on a clean surface, such as a disposable paper towel or plastic cup, and
to clean your hands again before reinsertion. You may find that a small
amount of milk will come out of the piercing. This is normal and quite
What will happen to my piercings if I get pregnant?
You will want any piercings to be well healed before conceiving a child.
The changes that a woman's body undergoes during pregnancy can make it
next to impossible for piercings to heal during this time. The best thing
to do when you get pregnant is to keep in touch with your piercer and
inform him/her of your changing situation. You can expect some change
in a navel piercing during pregnancy, since your abdomen will be stretching
considerably. Many women find that the original jewelry they had in their
navel is not comfortable as the pregnancy progresses. We suggest a barbell
made of PTFE, which is a surgical implant grade plastic. This barbell
is flexible, and therefore more comfortable for many women. We suggest
discussing with your health care provider whether you will be able to
leave your jewelry in during delivery.
What metals are safe for a new piercing?
316L grade stainless steel, niobium, titanium, solid 14 or 18 karat gold,
as well as PTFE, a surgical grade plastic, work well for most people.
Metals to avoid include silver, gold-plated or gold-filled, brass, bronze
and copper. Saving a few dollars on the metal can prove very costly in
terms of having to deal with an allergic reaction or infection.
What size jewelry is best?
The appropriate size jewelry varies from piercing to piercing, and person
to person. Jewelry will have to be custom fitted to your body to ensure
proper healing. Don't ever let anyone tell you that one size is standard
for a particular piercing. A trained professional (not a sales clerk)
will be able to tell you what is appropriate for your body.
How will physical activity and sweat affect
a new piercing?
For most people this does not cause problems, although you may want to
clean your new piercing after engaging in strenuous activity. Always listen
to your body. If something is not good for your piercing, your body will
let you know. Generally, if an activity is not causing you any discomfort,
it is probably just fine.
Will I set off metal detectors?
It is not likely, but if you have a large number of piercings in one small
area of your body, or if your jewelry is a thick gauge, it is possible.
Do you do the piercing with a piercing gun?
First, there is no way to sterilize piercing guns. Most guns are made
of plastic and will melt under the extreme heat and pressure of an autoclave
(the piece of equipment used to sterilize implements) and chemical sterilization
has not been proven to kill all blood borne pathogens; this is extremely
dangerous since fluid micro-spray (microscopic particles of tissue, blood
and other body fluids) might be present on the gun after a piercing. Second,
guns are considerably more painful than a piercing needle because guns
use the blunt end of the jewelry to do the piercing-actually tearing the
skin, traumatizing the area, and complicating healing. Third, since both
the instrument and the jewelry were designed for earlobes, they are not
compatible with other areas of the body, increasing the risk of infection
and further complicating the healing process. Fourth, standard piercing
gun studs are usually made of a poor quality metal that can cause additional
complications. Lastly, the jewelry is poorly designed in that the backing
traps and collects waste, hair and debris, holding it against or close
to the piercing. This is far from an ideal healing environment.
Can I lose my piercing?
Yes, there is always a chance of rejection ("growing out"). This can occur
for multiple reasons (consult your piercer). There is also the chance
of an infection that can force you to abandon the piercing. If you handle
or play with your piercing too soon, or without washing your hands first,
this can lead to an infection. In all cases, jewelry must be left in the
piercing for the entire healing time, and not removed for cleaning. If
jewelry is removed for even a few minutes, the piercing can close up and
you may not be able to reinsert the jewelry. For "lost holes," see your
body piercer immediately. Reinsertion is possible if you act quickly.
Can I go swimming with my piercing?
Yes, but until your piercing is fully healed use a gas permeable patch
(such as Tegaderm or Duoderm) if you go into a hot tub, pool, ocean, lake,
etc. These patches allow oxygen through so that your piercing can breathe,
but are impermeable to water and fluids. They work best for navel and
nipple piercings, for some piercings they may be impractical, and you
may have to stay out of the water until your piercing is healed. Use one
patch per swim. These patches are not reusable. If you have a problem
finding these patches, call us for information. For a facial piercing
you can simply keep your head out of the water. All bodies of water contain
microorganisms, and pools and hot tubs are treated with harsh chemicals
that can irritate your piercing. When your piercing is healed you can
stop using the patches, just make sure to clean your piercing thoroughly
when you get out of the water.
What do I look for in a piercer?
There are a lot of people-from tattooists to hair stylists-cashing in
on the popularity of body piercing by calling themselves "professional
body piercers." Do not let your desire to be pierced prevent you from
doing careful research. Be sure the person you are considering uses appropriate
clean and sterile techniques. They must use sterile piercing needles that
are disposed of in a sharps container after a single use. They must autoclave
all implements used for the procedure and wear fresh, clean gloves at
all times during the piercing. Be sure to find out where and when they
got their training and how much experience they have. Ask to see photos
of their work, or better yet, speak with other customers. Ask to see their
autoclave and spore test records. It is also important that piercings
are done in a specific area designated just for that task.
What if I have a condition that compromises
my ability to heal?
Conditions such as diabetes, lupus or others that compromise the immune
system do not necessarily prevent you from getting pierced. Before going
to get pierced you should consult with your physician. Please make your
piercer aware both of the condition you have that may affect the piercing
and of your physician's recommendations regarding piercing.