Piercing Guide and Tips From An Expert

By Lauren McCoy

Q. How many piercings do you have and where?

A. I have 5 piercings. One microdermal under my eye, one septum piercing, one jestrum piercing, and both nipples pierced.

Q. What would you suggest as a starter piercing (besides ears) for someone ?

A. Ears are more complicated than they sound actually! Lobes are fine but anywhere with cartilage is difficult for healing and takes much longer than say a lip piercing. My recommendation is a septum piercing, or a lip piercing. The septum is my favourite because of these reasons: a) It's lower on the pain scale b) if you take it out the scar is not visible- great for those hesitant to have a piercing because they think they may not like it. It's also very popular and widely accepted so for someone shy, you don't get a lot of looks c) after care is nice and easy, and d) it becomes a very resilient piercing, unlike a microdermal, where if you look at it the wrong way, it will reject! I can tug on that thing all day and it's fine. A septum piercing can be pierced through the cartilage but it is not recommended. It's usually done where they call the "sweet spot". Secondly I recommend a lip piercing, however the pain scale is higher, and because of the movement from the mouth they can get irritated. Some lip piercings go through sebaceous glands, which can cause you a bit of trouble, but despite being in the mouth where food and whatnot goes, they are easy to clean and care for. You must be careful, though, because when they snag, they can get swollen, so you must have a longer bar/bigger ring while they are healing to accommodate this. You would also want to look out for enamel decay and gum recession, because it does happen. I used to have a Monroe piercing, and my gum receded. A great way to avoid this is to get a vertical labret, horizontal labret, or a jestrum piercing, because they do not actually exit the lip to the teeth, however in my experience, my jestrum piercing was the most painful piercing I've ever had done, with my vertical labret being the second most painful. Luckily, once the jewelry has been slipped in, the pain stops, and you're left with a sore lip, but the procedure is short. While it's a great choice, you need to have the balls to do it. You can also avoid him and tooth troubles by using bioplast jewelry. I do not recommend getting a microdermal first, however the pain scale is surprisingly low. They are temporary and almost always reject eventually, leaving you with what looks like an acne scar. The jewelry is hard to change, and to have them removed is a process. Having your cheeks pierced is adorable, but they never fully heal and leave some pretty nasty scars. Some piercers won't do them- especially Dahlias. I will note that nipple piercings don't hurt as much as you think, but can cause some weird things to happen, especially to women, like extra growth, desensitization, hypersensitization, etc, but are great if you have an inverted nipple because they can fix that!

Q. Tell me what benefits you say piercings have over other forms of body mods.

A. Honestly? It's completely up to the wearer. It's how it makes the person feel about themselves and how they want to express themselves. Ear stretching is completely personal but you need to be very patient because it takes years. You can have a "punch" done so it's immediate but I don't recommend that for anyone. Once your ears are stretched to a certain size, they will not go back. You would need to have them surgically done. I don't know anything about subdermal implants aside from microdermals. Tattoos are fantastic in my opinion but they are with you forever- even if you have them "removed"- whereas with a piercing you can just slip that baby right out. Elf ears are cool, but again, I'm inexperienced. From what I can tell, a lot can go wrong. Tongue splitting is drastic but again, up to the wearer. A lot can go wrong, including paralysis or partial paralysis of the tongue. Tongue piercings are great, but again, if you get the ones that are side by side (viper I believe it's called?) you can paralyze the tongue. Corsetting is neat, but usually only last a photo shoot from what I've heard. Every body modification comes with its own set of troubles- you just have to pick what troubles you find tolerable.

Q. Any tips on finding the right person to do the work?

A. Yes I do have some tips! Look for cleanliness and sterile environments, ask lots of questions beforehand (and be wary of piercers who answer the question "is there anything I should be wary about with this piercing?" with, "no not at all! No implications"), look at some of their work if available, and go somewhere reputable. You will want to be pierced with surgical steel or titanium (or perhaps niobium)... I hear certain other metals are OK but in my experience, titanium is the best, because it's light, and almost nobody on the planet has an allergy to it. However, do not get coloured titanium for when the piercing is healing (after is totally OK and can look pretty cool). If you go for surgical steel like I have, look for the grade of the surgical steel too, because there are different types. I am very very very sensitive to nickel, and while surgical steel does contain nickel, it is at a very low amount and has never caused me troubles. Stay away from coated metals because there is usually brass underneath, which will be exposed due to the moisture and acidity of your own unique skin. I can't wear anything coated, because the brass is exposed within a few wears. Also, although it sounds weird, if you have to pay a bit more, the service is usually better. Don't go cheap unless you know the piercer. My favourite piercer Christina is quick, gentle, and knows how to center things perfectly. Make sure when you get pierced that you look at the marks they make before they pierce you!!!

Q. Recommended aftercare?

A. Aftercare is different for different kinds of piercings and not everyone agrees. Some require sea salt soaks (NON IODIZED SALT) or sea salt compresses with lint free cotton. I've always had trenendous luck with those. DO NOT rotate the jewelry or slide it back and forth if you don't need to, and no using alcohols or moisturizers. Treat your piercing like an open wound, because it is one. If you need a moisturizer use pure emu oil or if on the lips, a product like Burts Bees lip balm. DO NOT remove the jewelry to clean it, you will do more harm than good. If you take it out during the healing stage, some piercings will close within the hour- especially mouth piercings. It's like your body suddenly becomes super human and you're like Wolverine- your body closes that wound ASAP. Do not force your jewelry in any way, and do not switch it until it's fully healed (if you're unsure of how long that is, ask!) If your piercing is oozing any colour of discharge other than clear, go back to your piercer. If your piercing is swollen constantly, go to your piercer. If your piercing seems like your skin is pushing it out, this could mean your piercing is being rejected- namely surface piercings, microdermals, and subdermal implants, so go to your piercer. Most piercings will be tender for a while- especially the lip ones I've had... If you find it to be excessive, guess what! Go to your piercer! 😛 Often times leaving it the f*ck alone is your best option. The body is good at healing by itself. Keeping your fingers away is a good thing, and when you need them, wash your hands. For my microdermal I did non iodized sea salt compresses with lint free cotton. For my septum I used a sea salt spray by the name of H2Ocean- I highly recommend this product. For my jestrum piercing I simply use a q tip (one end for the top exit, the other end for the bottom exit) to wipe away any discharge or "crusties" and put on my Burts Bees lip balm when needed. For my nipples I do the same thing, except I don't use lip balm, I use pure Emu oil (you can look it up for more info) and use a salt soak method where I use a clean cup, lean over and put my boob in the cup, suction cup it to my boob, and lean back up straight, and wait about 10 mins. When I had a Monroe piercing and a vertical labret I went the sea salt methods. There really is something about the seasalt method that is so soothing. You use warm (not hot) water and a little bit of non iodized sea salt, and submerge the piercing. The salt draws out any excretions and impurities while sterilizing the piercing, and the heat soothes any pain. Make sure not to use too much salt or you will dry out the wound and this can be irritating.