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 solutions.
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 infected?
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 nipple piercing?
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 harmless.
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.
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