Does this piercing jewelry make me look fat?
Hi, Happy Dave here
As a Professional Career Piercer and advocate of safe piercing for the last seventeen years, I felt compelled to write this article after encountering several people that were wearing the wrong type of jewelry in their piercings. Since there are no training requirements for body piercers in Illinois other than meeting basic health department guidelines, there are a lot of crappy piercers out there. Most of these people are what I refer to as “passive piercers”. These are people that pierce as a secondary source of income and haven’t taken the time to go through a formal apprenticeship. It is important to screen prospective piercers when calling around for prices. Make sure you know who is piercing you before you go in or make an appointment. It could be the difference between having a pleasant piercing experience or a disastrous one. Hopefully this article will help you be able to make more informed choices when seeking to get a new body adornment.
Questions to Determine Piercer Qualification
→ How long have you been piercing?
→ Do you have a piercing portfolio?
→ Are you a full time piercer or do you offer tattoos?
→ How often do you spore test?
→ Do you use internally or externally threaded labret posts and barbells?
Before you choose a piercer…
Whatever piercing you are thinking of, you should ask a few questions first, and know what answers to listen for. If they have a professional piercing ethic they will respect you enough to answer you. That’s important in itself; do you want someone modifying your body that has no respect for you?
Look for a person with five years or more full time experience. A person that has an extensive photo album of some of the piercings they have done shows that they take pride in their work and it gives you a chance to see the quality of their work. Specialized piercers are focused on and committed to piercing. A spore test is a biological test performed on sterilization equipment to make sure it is working properly. If the person you ask doesn’t know what a spore test is or how often they test their equipment, they may not care about health and safety protocols. Internally threaded barbells are best for initial piercings because the threads are on the inside so it doesn’t tear the piercing going in. Internally threaded barbells cost more to make but it shows that the piercer cares enough about quality to spend the extra money so you will have a more pleasant experience.
The Value of Quality
While the amount of money that you spend on a piercing is not going to automatically determine the quality, it is pretty safe to say that if you get an inexpensive piercing, more than likely it is going to look cheap. Remember that your piercing is permanent. You will have it for a long time. You don’t have to spend a fortune but a little extra money spent and a quality piercing artist will ensure that your new piercing will be something you can display with pride.
Wrong Placement Horror Stories
Matching the right jewelry to the piercing is important. A piercing should compliment one’s features, not overpower them. If it is a functional piercing it should be able to move appropriately to do its job. I get a lot of people in my shop that have been pierced elsewhere with jewelry that doesn’t fit the piercing. Thankfully, a professional can help or even repair bad piercings entirely. Some examples:
One girl come in that had a 14 gauge navel stud in her ROOK piercing (the inner top part of her ear). Not only did it look ugly and out of place, it was too thick! That caused the piercing to reject, and needed my attention. It turned out that the person who pierced her had used a navel bar! I switched it out for a 16 gauge 1/4 inch bent barbell, which fixed the pain and inflammation, and looked better besides.
Recently, I encountered a woman with a surface piercing under her eye that was pierced with a bent barbell and it was growing out. Bent barbells don’t heal in surface piercings because it puts stress on the entry and exit site causing the body to reject it. The proper jewelry for a surface piercing is a “U” shaped barbell (which looks more like a bracket, [ ). That shape relieves the pressure from the piercing allowing it to heal.
Another woman came in for a nipple piercing and asked me if an 18 gauge bent barbell was the right jewelry for her vertical hood piercing. I told her It wasn’t and explained why. The person that pierced her either wasn’t trained properly or just didn’t have the proper jewelry and didn’t want to lose the sale. The standard jewelry for a VCH piercing is a 14 gauge straight barbell. 18 gauge is too thin for a VCH piercing because it gets pulled on and massaged. 18 gauge is very thin and can tear the piercing. A bent barbell has a curve on it so it limits the range of motion diminishing the ability for direct stimulation when massaged.
I had another woman come in for a piercing that asked me about a problem she was having with her tongue piercing. The person that pierced her used a one inch barbell way too long for her tongue not only did her piercing heal crooked it also developed a granuloma (A big hard bump). While it is necessary to use a longer barbell to accommodate the swelling, experience and proper training dictates the proper length to start with. I generally use a 5/8 inch barbell for women and 3/4 inch for men. Of course these are just general guidelines and everyone is different. I downsized her jewelry and gave her some additional aftercare instructions and her bump is diminishing.
Don’t make the same mistake these people did. Make an appointment With a specialized professional if you want a new piercing, or have a concern about an existing piercing, They can help you make the right choice of jewelry for your piercing needs.
It’s Your Body
People often get so wrapped up in trying to get a cheap piercing that they forget that, done right, this is a long term investment and it is your body you are modifying. No matter who you go to, take the time to get educated on the jewelry and the person doing the work. And hey, if you’re in Chicago look me up. ‘Happy’ Dave Haskell.