or Things About Piercing I Never Knew!
Mama needs a new pair of piercings
Recently I, a 40-something mommy of twin 4 yr olds, decided to visit a tattoo parlor.
No, I wasn’t there to get a ‘tat’ for myself. Instead, I visited for their other specialty: body piercing!
Just regular, run-of-the-mill earlobe piercings though. I’d been deprived of my earrings for a good while – 4 years, in fact – in fear that my twins would try to remove them the hard way, and in the meantime my piercing holes had closed up. Now, finally, my kids are (barely) civilized enough to not rip out my earrings, so I needed to get my ears re-done.
And apparently the only safe way to do that, according to my research, was at a tattoo parlor or piercing studio.
Having chosen to forgo the ol’ ‘sewing needle and ice-cube’ method that I employed with my 2nd attempt at piercing my ears back in ’94, I first googled for the nearest mall chain-jewelry store where they have young women, still in the first flush of college-hood, wielding piercing guns with a jaded air.
Surprising info about mall-style piercing guns
It was during my online search for such a place, that I stumbled across some disturbing information: piercing guns are the WORST way to get a piercing done. (followed closely by the sewing needle method)
According to the APP (Assoc. of Professional Piercers) the guns cause excessive and unnecessary damage to earlobes and cartilage, and despite claims of being sanitary because of the disposable cartridges used, they are not autoclaved. Autoclaving is the only reliable method of properly sanitizing surgical implements.
The problem of sanitation for cartridge-loaded mall-style piercing guns, is that they have ‘blowback’, the fine aerosolized spray of blood from the blunt force trauma of forcing the piercing through the flesh and cartilage, which stays on the gun and accumulates, user after user after user.
Such piercings are ripe for infections and contamination from blood-borne diseases.
Another problematic feature of the gun-piercings, according to Jorge, the pleasant young man at Jerzey Ink who performed my piercings one Saturday afternoon, is that the earrings themselves that are used with such guns have posts that are too short to allow for the initial swelling. This causes further tissue damage and makes it harder to keep the wound clean while it heals. The APP also concurs on this point, as well.
Jorge demonstrated with his lip piercing. Indeed the post was a bit longer than what had been used on my ears with my 1st piercing which had been with a mall gun back in ’85, and there was a fair bit of clearance between the skin surface and the post clasp.
Well, Jorge really knew his business, because my ears did initially swell a bit, but were still comfortable and had plenty of room to do so. The swelling quickly went down by the next day, and when it came time to clean the wounds, the longer bar did make it much easier than had been my previous experience using standard sized earrings with my first and second attempts at piercing.
While going over the aftercare instructions, Jorge also cautioned me against another thing that I had done in my previous piercings – using hydrogen peroxide to clean my ears. Apparently it’s not the best choice in preventing or treating an infection with the piercings. He persuaded me to instead try the piercing aftercare spray sold in his shop.
Since he was so knowledgeable, I decided to put myself in his hands and trust him. And after perusing the spray bottle’s list of ingredients, I was quite relieved to find that there were no toxic or carcinogenic ingredients, such as propylene glycol, sodium benzoate or other harmful things commonly found in commercial cosmetic products.
This wasn’t what I thought a tattoo parlor would be like
Jerzey Ink, located in Harrison, NJ was also a lot different from what I expected a tattoo parlor to be. It was bright, spacious, with the clean lines of the minimalist decor giving an air of competent professionalism to the place. In fact, the entire place was scrupulously clean. There were no offensive images decorating the place, and it rather resembled an upscale salon.
The staff there were friendly, helpful, respectful and very patient with all of my questions. They also took no offense at my questions regarding their sanitizing procedures and volunteered to show me their latest spore-count report for the autoclave. They have it inspected every month, and it gets broken down and reassembled every other month.
It’s now several months later, and despite a small setback wherein I learned that I had a metal allergy and had to resort to hypo-allergenic post-holders, my ears are healing nicely without any of the problems I had with my first two attempts at ear piercing.
And so far my twins, after initially requesting a closer look at my earrings (“We’ll be gentle Mama, we promise!”), have left my ears alone. (Update: Lol! I can’t believe I fell for that! The earrings went back in the box once more and the holes have closed back up again. Going to have to get them re-pierced now that the kids are 10! 😀 )
So, if you’re in the market to get yours or your child’s ears pierced, I strongly recommend that you visit the Assoc. of Professional Piercers’ website first, to learn more about how to have a safe piercing.
(This is a re-print of an article I wrote a few years ago for a website that has since been discontinued.)