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With the growing popularity and social acceptance of body piercing, many people are choosing to decorate their bodies with piercings from the mundane to the highly unusual. There are several considerations which should be taken into account before getting a body piercing, however, as the decision is a commitment. If you decide you do not like the body piercing later on, you can take it out, but it needs to be allowed to heal completely first, in order to avoid the risk of infection. If you choose to get a piercing in a hard to heal area, such as the navel, it may take up to nine months, or more, to heal, meaning that you could have a long time to live with a body piercing you hate.
Placement is probably the most important issue with a body piercing. Consider where you want to be pierced, and think about the implications. A facial piercing such as an eyebrow piercing, for example, may bar you from employment in some locations. It will also result in social difficulties, because of perceptions about pierced people. Whether or not you find these facts troubling and repugnant, they are facts, and you should take them into account.
Healing will also be impacted by placement. If you are highly physically active, a navel or belly button piercing might not be a good choice, for example, since jostling and trauma increases healing time and the risk of infection. Be aware that the area around the body piercing is going to be tender and sensitive through the healing process, and that you will need to pay special attention to it. Surface piercings will take a long time to heal, as will piercings of the cartilage. Oral piercings and ear piercings, on the other hand, are very fast healing if well cared for.
The second thing to think about when are considering a body piercing is the aftercare. You may want to do some extensive research into what is involved, and be aware that aftercare instructions are different, depending on the body piercing. A tongue piercing, for example, requires rinsing with mouthwash after eating food, as well as frequent brushings to keep your mouth clean. This means that caring for the piercing requires substantially more work than healing ear piercings, which are much easier to care for. Only get a piercing if you can commit to the aftercare, because infections are not pleasant.
Timing is also an important factor. A body piercing should not be acquired right before going on vacation on entering a high stress situation. This is a recipe for shoddy aftercare and physical stress which will impact the way in which the piercing heals. Exposure to salt water, sun, or extreme cold can be very hard on a new piercing. You want to keep it clean, moisturized, and healthy, not subject it to trauma. The piercing can always wait for a more opportune time, giving you more time to think about it.
Finally, with every new body piercing comes the possibility of removal. Some piercings remove themselves by rejecting, which is why it is important to keep an eye on your piercings. If you see that a piercing appears to be migrating, you may want to remove it so that it does not leave a scar. You may also choose to remove a body piercing because you no longer like it, or cannot continue wearing it. Some piercings may scar, and some may permanently change your body, as is the case with stretched earlobes. Think carefully about how a body piercing will impact you in the long term before you start researching piercing studios and piercers to work with.
@Pippinwhite -- Aren't you going overboard just a little, looking for an autoclave? But I wouldn't get a body piercing anywhere that hadn't been inspected recently.
I've been with friends to places that looked like an operating room, they were so clean. I've been to places that weren't, too.
I also think that counseling with someone before they get the piercing about aftercare is crucial. Don't wait until they get the piercing -- give them the lowdown before they get it so they will be prepared for the possible effort involved in caring for the piercing until it heals. And always send home an instruction sheet with details about care.
Check with friends for recommendations for good studios, too, and even look around inside a studio to see if you have a good feeling about getting a piercing there.
I can't believe the article didn't mention checking out the piercing studio, first. Ears are usually straightforward, and can often be done in jewelry stores, for instance, but for other parts of the body, a person will need to go to a piercing studio.
Most states require a piercing studio to be licensed and inspected by the county health department on a regular basis. This means the shop adheres to certain health and sanitary guidelines mandated by the state. Otherwise, you could run the risk of getting a serious infection.
Personally, I wouldn't get a piercing done in any studio that didn't have a medical grade, state certified and calibrated autoclave on the premises. Some do, because they take their sterile precautions very seriously.