Average Healing Times for Body Piercings
Be sure to keep your piercings clean and use jewelry made from safe metals while they’re healing. Ask your piercing pro for aftercare recommendations and see a physician if your piercing becomes infected.It’s always good to have an understanding of the time it could take to heal specific piercings before you make the decision to book an appointment for a procedure.
Common Healing Times
Ear Cartilage: up to 12 months
Eyebrows: up to 3 months
Navel: up to 12 months
Nipple Piercings, Females: up to 6 months
Nipple Piercings, Males: up to 4 months
Nostril: up to 6 months
Lip: up to 2 months
Septum: up to 2 months
Tongue Piercings: up to 6 months
A piercing gun looks like handgun, but with a piercing apparatus at the end of its barrel. The front of the apparatus holds a stud earring and the back holds a clasp, usually a butterfly clip. The piercer places your earlobe into a slot between the two areas and pulls the trigger, pushing the shaft of the earring through your ear and into its clasp.The piercing areas of older guns (with 100-percent reusable parts) were (hopefully) disinfected after each use, but plastic components made it impossible to insert the guns into an autoclave, the process that’s required for sterilization (the highest level of decontamination). Contemporary guns have disposable piercing inserts, but even one-use pods don’t eliminate all of the problems that can be caused by guns
Six Reasons Not to Be Pierced with a Piercing Gun
1. Risk of Infection and Disease Transmission
Disease transmission is possible, even with disposable cartridges, when the parts are used incorrectly or when the operator doesn’t understand or follow standard hygiene practices. Body fluids from one client, or common bacteria that’s only a problem when it enters a cut, could potentially become deposited onto any area of the piercing gun, and then later transferred to a new client.
2. We Don’t All Have “Standard” Size Earlobes
Piercing guns use post earrings of a standard length. People with thick earlobes may find that their new earrings are tight when lobes swell after piercing, and that they have little to no post length to use for expansion to relieve the pressure.A professional body piercer has access to many styles of initial jewelry that won’t inhibit comfort or the healing process.
3. Piercing Guns Cause Blunt Force Trauma to Earlobes
Most guns force regular, blunt-ended studs through the tissue of your ears, a painful process that can cause damage. The shock isn’t typically a huge issue for the lobes, but why risk it? A piercing professional will pierce you with razor-sharp, hollow needles that slice through areas quickly without damaging the surrounding tissue (a process that’s usually less painful than gun piercing).
Piercing guns should never be used to pierce any area of the body except an earlobe — not the harder cartilage of the ear (which can be shattered by guns) and not another body part. Many states have enacted laws to prevent inappropriate use of piercing guns, but be alert — if you opt for a gun piercing and the operator says it’s okay to pierce other areas, run… do not walk, to the door.
4. Possible Lack of Piercer Training
People who have worked in retail establishments that use piercing guns often report they began to pierce after just a short amount of training, sometimes only a few hours. With that little training, how can piercers be aware of the sanitary precautions that must be followed to prevent contamination? Or how to instruct for proper aftercare?
5. Poor Quality Jewelry
Your first earrings should be made from a high quality material that’s suitable for new piercings. Some jewelry used in piercing guns doesn’t make the cut, and can create irritation that leads to infection when exposed to the fluids that result from a piercing.
Most retailers in the business of piercing many ears will probably use studs that are either stainless steel or stainless steel plated with nickel-free 24K gold. But gun supplies are sold (cheaply) all over the internet to anyone who wants to buy them, and not all stud contents are labeled. Read Best Materials for New Body Piercings, and if you must be pierced with a piercing gun, verify that materials are safe.Butterfly backs are standard piercing gun fare. Their many crevices and folds are perfect spots for fluids to accumulate and dry to a crusty mess — keep them clean. Remember that plain ball earrings are easier to keep clean than fussy designs.
6. Uneven Piercings
A professional body piercer is far more likely to give you even lobe holes than a person holding a piercing gun. Pros have the experience required to get it right, while guns aren’t designed for top-notch accuracy, even in experienced hands.
Talk to a Professional Piercer
A pro’s procedure might cost you a little more, but prices are usually not prohibitive. Talk to a professional piercer before you make the decision to use a piercing gun.
Titanium body jewelry is often manufactured in either commercially pure grades 1 to 5 or grade 23 Ti6AL4V ELI alloy.
The only quality recommended for use by the Association of Professional Piercers is Titanium that is certified to meet ASTM or ISO standards for surgical implant applications. “Look for implant certified titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is ASTM F136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant, or commercially pure titanium that is ASTM F67 compliant.”.
Pure and alloyed qualities have long been used for both piercings and surgical implants, and very few long-term allergies and other complications have been reported, though as with any material they could arise after prolonged contact with the human body. Ti6Al4V ELI alloy contains aluminum and vanadium.
When the EU Nickel Directive came into force – high nickel bearing alloys were restricted from use in primary (new) piercings. Because of its virtually ‘Nickel Free’ content Titanium has become one of the preferred materials used in piercing jewellery within the borders of the EU.
Titanium jewellery is lightweight (around 60% the weight of stainless steel given the same volume), it is highly corrosion resistant and less likely to react with body fluids, is not magnetic, it can be anodized to create a layer of colored oxide on the surface. Common colors are yellow, blue, purple, green, and rainbow.
Titanium can be sterilized in an autoclave.
Glass is a common piercing material which has been used for thousands of years. For example, earplugs made of glass have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.
If correctly shaped and manufactured, glass can be an functional material: comfortable to wear, tough, and safe for the body. However, cheaper glass beads that are not covered in a metal shell can easily break into shards. If you drop glass jewelry on the floor, you probably won’t be able to use it again. Also if you have a cheap bead in a tongue piercing and accidentally chew on it, it can break into tiny shards and cause lacerations.
It is possible to sterilize glass in a steam-autoclave but the heat may cause cracking in cheaper products.
One disadvantage of steel is its weight. For larger pieces of jewelry this can be a problem as it can cause tension in the body tissue, and also unwanted stretching or tearing of a piercing. In areas with low blood circulation, such as the earlobe, this can be potentially dangerous. However, with smaller jewelry, there is no need to worry.
Another downside is its tendency to become very cold during winter. This can cause problems; due to this, many change their jewelry to others made of horn, bone, wood, plastics and glass during winter.
Steel body jewelry may be sterilized in an autoclave.
The two most common standards that apply to body jewelry made of steel are ASTM F138 and ISO 5832-1 which describe the qualities of steel for surgical implants.
The only quality recommended for use by the Association of Professional Piercers is steel that is certified to meet ASTM or ISO standards for surgical implant applications. “Surgical Steel is made of a variety of alloys. Many of them are used for body jewelry, but only a few specific grades are proven biocompatible”
Safe Ways to Stretch Your Ear Piercings
It’s trendy right now to wear pierced earrings fashioned from plugs or with thick, decorative posts and rings. Even if your ears were pierced to a standard size, you can stretch the holes using a gradual process that is commonly referred to as gauging or simply gauge . Piercing pros will tell you that is not the correct term, but it’s become the word most people use to describe the stretching process.
It will take time to gauge your pierced areas, but if you do it carefully you’ll be able to wear thicker body jewelry and keep your ears healthy.
What’s a normal ear gauge?
Most people’s earlobes are initially pierced with a 20 or 18-gauge needle. Common gauge sizes are named in even numbers down to 00, and the actual size increases as the numbers decrease. Larger gauges are expressed as fractions.
Isn’t it easier to punch larger holes to begin with?
Most piercers refuse to punch large holes, because totally removing a huge plug of tissue makes it difficult, if not impossible, to size back down later. Skin is resilient, so leaving it as intact as possible, but forcing a hole to stretch, makes it somewhat easier to return the hole to a smaller diameter if you decide to gauge down. However, you may never be able to restore your earlobes to the appearance they had before stretching (see: video about plastic surgery for gauged ears .
How should I gauge my ear piercings?
The method I’ll describe is the technique I used to stretch my own ears. It worked for mebut not everyone agrees that this technique is an acceptable way to change sizes. Speak with a piercing professional before you attempt to stretch the holes of any of your own piercings.
It’s important to change your gauge gradually, allowing ample healing time between sizes. If you move too fast, you might damage the skin enough to create scar tissue. Scars will make your earlobe look as if it is cracking around the hole and also make it very difficult to change gauge,
up or down.
Jewelry grade surgical stainless steel (SSS) rings or plugs can be used to stretch earlobe holes. SSS is not a porous material, so it does not absorb bacteria and dirt that can cause infections, and its heavier weight aids the stretching process. Save the decorative plastic and wooden pegs until your ears are completely healed.
I used these techniques to stretch my ear lobes to accept 6 gauge earrings. Everyone is different, so listen to your body during your own ear gauging process. Do not move on to a larger size until you feel comfortable about the change, and again, talk with a piercing pro if you have any questions or would like individual help with the process.
Compare your earring posts to a gauge chart to determine your current gauge.
Buy rings in the next largest size. For instance, if your current gauge is 20, purchase 18 gauge rings.
Wash your hands and earlobes with antibacterial soap.
Massage one of your ear lobes.
Insert the larger ring in that lobe. The new ring won’t slide right in, so take it easy or you’ll tear your ear and make it bleed. A little antibacterial soap, such as Provon or Dial, will help the rings go in more smoothly.
Repeat the steps for your other ear.
Expect some soreness as your ears heal and adjust to the new hole size. When they are fully healed, repeat the process to step up one more size.
I waited about two weeks between sizes, but many people find they must allow more time between step-ups. Listen to your body.
Special devices called tapering rings or insertion tapers can be used to stretch earlobe holes. They are round shafts that gradually taper from a smaller to larger gauge along their lengths. Your piercing professional can show you how to use the tapers, or do it for you. Not everyone agrees that using tapers is a good method for ear gauging.
Keep Your Piercings Clean
Clean your jewelry and earlobes once or twice every day with an unscented antibacterial soap. Try cleaning them when you are in the shower, because heat and moisture combined make it easier, and more comfortable, to manipulate a sore area.
Saturate your ear lobes with lather and use a cotton ball or disposable cloth to remove crusty residue. Turn the rings gently to work soap into the area and to keep them from sticking to your skin. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
Now soak your ear lobes in a solution made by combining a pinch of sea salt in a cup of distilled water. Soak for five to ten minutes.
Talk to a Piercing Pro
Remember to talk to a professional body piercer any time you need advice about any of your piercings.
Can you wear piercings during pregnancy?
However, pregnancy is likely to make your skin more sensitive than usual. So if you do start to feel uncomfortable, taking out your jewellery may be your best option.
Depending on where your piercings are, they will affect you in different ways as your body changes. It’s probably best to ask your piercer for advice from the start. If you decide to take out your jewellery, your piercer will be able to tell you how easy it will be to refit it.
It is also worth bearing in mind that if you have a caesarean , any piercings you have will need to be either taped over or removed. So even if you decide to keep wearing your piercings, you may want to remove them later in your pregnancy.
Belly button piercings
If you have your belly button pierced, it may come out whether you like it or not! As your baby grows, your belly will expand until your belly button sticks out. At this point, it is unlikely that your jewellery will stay in. The piercing may even disappear as your belly stretches and it moves towards your skin’s surface.
You could swap your belly button ring for a curved plastic barbell as your belly gets bigger. These flexible bars can bend as your belly expands and you can also wear them during ultrasound scans. You can even buy specially made maternity barbells, which flex with your growing belly.
Your breasts will become more tender during your pregnancy, but you don’t need to remove jewellery from your nipples unless you want to.
However, the picture’s different if you want to breastfeed once you’re a mum. Take out your jewellery when you feed your baby. Your baby may struggle to latch on well if you keep your piercings in. Her gums, tongue or palate could also be damaged by breastfeeding on nipple jewellery. More seriously, there’s the risk that your jewellery will come out and choke her.
You may be able to keep your nipple piercings open by wearing a bar in between feeds. The only way to know if this will work for you is to try it. But it may just be too uncomfortable, particularly in the early days of feeding when your nipples may be sore.
Putting the jewellery in and then taking it out for each feed will also be fiddly, particularly if you are breastfeeding in public.
If you do persevere, you will need to take extra care to keep your jewellery, and your nipple, clean. It’s common to pick up infections, such as thrush, when you are breastfeeding.
You may just find it easier to not wear any jewellery in your nipples until you have weaned your baby. But think carefully about whether you will want to have them repierced afterwards. Frequent repiercings aren’t a good idea, as they can damage the nipple and may cause problems if you become pregnant again and decide to breastfeed your next baby.
A clitoral piercing may not cause you any problems during your pregnancy, apart from feeling a bit uncomfortable. This is because your genitals can become more swollen and sensitive due to increased blood flow to the area around your pelvis.
Even if this isn’t a problem for you, your midwife will probably ask you to remove your clitoral piercing when it comes to giving birth. This is because of the risk of it getting caught as your baby comes out, or of the area around your piercing tearing.
If you are thinking about getting any new piercings, it is best to wait until your pregnancy is over. All piercings, however carefully they are done, carry a small risk of infection. Most piercers would not consider giving pregnant women piercings for this reason. There’s also the possibility that your body will try to “reject” the piercing as a foreign object, and the wound will not heal.