How Long Does It Take?: A Guide to Healing Piercings
by K. A. Kristmanson
One of the most common questions clients have about their next piercing is: how long until this is healed? Or, in other words, how long until I can change the jewelry? These are both valid questions, and I’m here to give you answers!
Ear Piercings (2 – 6 months)
- Standard Lobe: 2 months
- Transverse Lobe: 2 months
- Helix/Anti-Helix: 4 – 6 months
- Tragus/Anti-Tragus/Vertical Tragus: 4 – 6 months
- Inner or Outer Conch: 4 – 6 months
- Rook: 4 – 6 months
- Daith: 4 – 6 months
- Snug: 4 – 6 months
- Orbital (Cartilage): 4 – 6 months
- Orbital (Lobe): 2 months
- Industrial/Vertical Industrial: 4 – 6 months
Typically, when you’re looking at ear piercings, you can break up the healing time into two categories: cartilage and lobe. While lobe piercings tend to heal within two months, cartilage takes much longer because it is thicker, less vascular tissue. This means that the tissue does not regenerate the same way skin does, and that it relies much more on scar formation due to a lack of blood supply. White blood cells are largely reduced in cartilage tissue, along with other healing fluids the body transfers with its vascular system. This also increases risk of infection and irritation for piercings that puncture cartilage, so make sure to take your piercer’s aftercare advice seriously if you want to keep that new ring in your ear!
Facial Piercings (2 – 8 months)
- Bridge: 3 – 8 months
- Eyebrow: 3 – 4 months
- Anti-Eyebrow: 2 – 3 months
- Nostril: 2 months
- Septum: 2 months
Though the nostril is cartilage, the piercing should heal in a matter of a few months, if all goes well. That being said, it can be sensitive long afterward, while remaining perfectly healthy. Bridge piercings, on the other hand, have a high risk for rejection. This is usually due to exposure to sweat, facial creams and cleansers, makeup, hair products, etc. For the bridge, the more tissue you have for the piercer to work with, the better, because a larger gauge can be used. Larger gauge means the body is less likely to push the piercing out, reducing the risk of migration or rejection.
Oral Piercings (1 – 12 months)
- Upper Lip: 2 – 3 months
- Lower Lip: 2 – 3 months
- Labret: 2 – 3 months
- Vertical Labret: 2 – 3 months
- Philtrum: 2 – 3 months
- Cheek: 3 – 12 months
- Smiley/Frowny: 2 – 3 months
- Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
- Tongue Webbing: 4 – 6 weeks
In general, oral piercings heal quickly and easily, if they’re taken care of. However, the cheek is an exception to the rule, and can take significantly longer to heal. Many people suffer issues with their cheeks piercings long after the healing period and can range from hard scar-tissue formations around the hole, to more serious cases of infection and rejection.
Of course, there is risk with every piercing, and while lip and tongue piercings are usually fully healed within the first two months, complications can arise for many reasons. Everything you put into your mouth will affect the fresh piercing. This means smoking, consuming alcohol or sugary substances, and harsh alcohol-based mouthwash big no-no’s during your healing period. If you’re not one for cutting back on any of the above, maybe an oral piercing is not for you.
Body Piercings (3 – 8 months)
- Navel: 4 – 6 months
- Nipple: 3 – 4 months
- Dermal: 6 – 8 months
- Surface: 4 – 6 months
While Navel and Nipple placements are easy enough to heal, it is important to note that surface and dermal piercings are not considered permanent by most industry professionals. The likelihood of your body accepting a dermal implant or a surface bar, despite all precautions and care taken to prevent rejection and migration, is very low. These piercings are sensitive, and they are usually placed in high-contact areas like the hips and collarbones. Clothes rub against them, they are much more difficult to clean, and the body’s natural response to a foreign object near the surface of the skin is to build tissue behind it to push the material out. Kind of like a splinter.
Though it is possible for clients to get their dermals re-pierced after the jewelry has been pushed out and the tissue has fully healed, this requires working the needle or punch through scar-tissue, which is a more difficult—and more painful—process. If the piercing is not properly cared for as it rejects, thick keloid scarring is a likely consequence. Just prepare yourself for these possibilities if you are thinking of getting a semi-permanent body piercing.
Below the Belt Piercings (4 – 6 weeks)
I won’t go into the details for this post—because there are a lot of placement options—but typically speaking, BtB piercings are some of the fastest to heal. This is partly because the areas are so vascular. That being said, they require extra attention and care, because they are in a very sensitive area of the body.
Hope that answered some questions about healing time!
Check out more detailed posts about facial piercings here. Or, if ear piercings are more in your wheel-house, you can find more information here. As always, thanks for reading!