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Mistakes Happen- How to Handle it when a Piercing Goes Wrong

It’s every piercer and every clients worst nightmare. Everyone is excited, happy, and ready to go, and then, something goes wrong. Maybe connection is lost on the transfer, maybe the piercing has come out a bit crooked, or jewelry isn’t sitting correctly. Maybe the jewelry has accidentally broken. Whatever the case, something has gone wrong. And, while it might be a nightmare, it’s also a reality of being pierced. Today, I want to talk about what happens when a piercing goes wrong, and also how to handle it.

To start, we are all human. Imperfect, accidental, mistake making humans. There are no perfect people, and by extension no perfect piercers. Just like doctors, nurses, fast food workers and mechanics. Mistakes can and do happen. It’s really unfortunate when you are on the receiving end of a mistake, but it’s part of life. The very first thing I would suggest anyone do is think about a time you made a mistake at work and how you would want to be treated. It’s understandable to be a bit hurt and upset, but it’s important to treat someone with the same kindness and understanding you would want if you made a mistake. How a piercer handles it will control the direction this can go in. A good piercer should be honest and upfront that something has happened. Maybe the jewelry has accidentally broken and you can no longer have the pierce you loved. Maybe something has come out a little kicked and needs adjustment. The most important thing is that they admit that something has gone wrong, and are honest with the client. It is a red flag if they refuse to admit a mistake or place blame entirely on the client, and that may be a sign it’s time to leave and find someone else to help you out.

Second, is that they correct their mistake. Broken jewelry we sadly can’t do much for instantly, but a good piercer will usually comp you a basic piece and send the broken one for repair asap, so you can have it as soon as possible. Something being off about your piercing is thankfully an easy fix. Typically we can make a small adjustment and correct things then and there. And there are a myriad of things that can call for an adjustment. Certainly, sometimes those mistakes are on us- something has come out a little crooked, tissue has responded in an unpredictable manner, or jewelry isn’t sitting the way it needs to. We are, after-all, all human. But, sometimes there are things we could never have predicted until the piercing is done. Perhaps the piercing is technically perfect, but to look visually pleasing we need to adjust things eveeeeer so slightly. Perhaps natural anatomy calls for an angle to be changed to allow the piercing to heal well or sit well. Maybe we forgot to check things with your glasses, hearing aids, or other daily wear devices, and we need to make a change so they work! Whatever the case, a good piercer will be both willing and able to fix the mistake. And if a fix can’t happen that day, they will usually offer to repierce or correct for free as soon as it’s safe to do so. A great piercer won’t let you leave with something that isn’t correct.

Sometimes a piercer may not feel confidant they can correct a mistake, or fix a piece jewelry. They may grab a coworker, or refer you to someone else at the studio. This is actually an amazing thing of them to do, and you should feel reassured they are honest about things they can and can’t handle. For example, I’m great at fixing bent over threadless ends, and plenty of coworkers have grabbed me to fix one of those pieces. But I’m definitely not as skilled with warped seam rings, and have totally tagged in a coworker for help! Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is part of what makes a great team and family within a studio. A piercer who is honest enough to say their coworker may be the better fit to assist the client is an awesome, humble piercer.

It’s important to remember that every piercer makes mistakes, from an apprentice who is learning to a master piercer who has been doing this for years. The measure of a great piercer isn’t not making mistakes, it’s how the handle them. A bad piercer either doesn’t know they made a mistake, or knows and doesn’t care. A good piercer knows they made a mistake, but doesn’t understand why or know how to fix it, or doesn’t know how to handle making a mistake. A great piercer makes a mistake, understand what went wrong, fixes it, and learns from it and becomes a yet better piercer. These moments are scary for piercer and client alike, but as long as everyone can remain calm and kind, things will work out just fine!

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1 Comment

Trash Panda
Trash Panda
Sep 04, 2022

Thank you for this article it really helped put me at ease, I had my first genuine mistake yesterday with a nostril piercing. It was wrong placement (too close to the front of the nose) so the jewellery wasn’t sitting correctly. took it out and explained to my client. he was completely understanding and i told him to pop back in a couple months once its fully healed and we can change the placement and get it done right. Completely free of charge for both the mess up yesterday and the future appointment if they wish to go ahead with it.

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