These days cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever. Gone are the days where these procedures were hush-hush secrets no one wanted to talk about or address, and folks hid they got done. Now people are excited to let folks know they’ve scheduled some work, and count down the days with glee till their procedures. It’s awesome- people of all genders, shapes, and sizes are embracing their bodies and doing what they deem best to make their bodies feel like home. I’m all about it! But, if you are considering or have body piercings, there are some concerns when it comes to plastic surgery you should be aware of. I speak both as a piercer, but also as someone who has had plastic surgery and been through the healing and the process. Lets look more at how plastic surgery can effect your piercing plans.
Surgery First, Piercing Second
One of the most frequently asked questions is what should I do first? Get surgery or get piercings? The answer is pretty much always get your surgery first. You’ll need to remove the piercing for surgery in the area anyway, and the doctor may work directly on the area where the piercing is located. It’s much easier and ensures better results to wait to be pierced after your procedure. That said depending on the doctor and type of surgery piercings that are nowhere near the procedure area and made of implant grade titanium can often remain in for the procedure. I had my BBL done with all of my facial and ear piercings still in. If you have existing piercings in the area of your procedure, you will need to remove them. I suggest removing them as far out before surgery as you can so the tissue has time to heal up and be stable before your doctor is working on you. I know it can be heartbreaking to remove piercings you love, but plastic surgery is a huge investment, and that's a part of it.
Breast Augmentation/Reduction- Many of these procedures go through the nipple, or in the case of a lift and top surgery may even remove and reattach the nipple. Not only does this spell the end for most piercings, but sometimes the doctors don’t always put the nipple back the exact same way it was before. AKA I’ve seen perfectly horizontal piercings end up diagonal or even vertical after a nipple is reattached. Even for augmentations that don’t go near the nipple, the procedure can change how your breast sits, and thus how your piercing sits. I’ve seen clients disappointed that their previously perfect piercings now sit at angles or don’t look they way they wanted after surgery with their new breasts.
Tummy Tuck/BBL/Lipo/Laproscopic Procedures/Anything in or near the navel- Often times they cut and stitch the navel, meaning good bye piercing. For tummy tucks, they often reshape and recreate a navel entirely new, with a new shape and everything. Definitely better to be pierced after, since you’ll have a totally new belly button! Speaking from personal experience just the sutures after lipo totally changed the shape of my navel- I had floating navel anatomy before surgery and now I don’t! And they didn’t even rebuild my navel, just popped some stitches in. Definitely worth the wait.
Rhinoplasty/Septoplasty- You are getting a totally new nose! The placement that looked perfect on your old nose might not look great upon your new one, and chances are high your old piercing will close during the surgery and healing process anyway. Definitely worth it to wait. The same applies to septum piercings.
Wait at Least a Year to be Pierced
But Lynn! My doctor said I could be pierced in 2 months/5 months/6 months! Why do I have to wait an entire year! Well, listen, I’m not a doctor. But I am a body piercer. I don’t know anything about medical surgery but I’d like to think I know a thing or two about body piercing. Just like doctors know all about surgery, but often not much about body piercing. Case in point, the very sweet Dr at my clinic who asked me earnestly if the surface piercings in my face were drilled into the bone. (For the record, body piercers are not drilling into peoples bones, surface piercings just go in the skin!) Doctors, while well meaning, often don’t have the education or training specifically about what goes into body piercing to understand things like timeframes to pierce again. We need tissue, particularly surgically altered tissue, to be healthy and stable before we try creating a piercing and getting the body to heal it. This takes a long time. If you’ve had surgery, you know sometimes 6-12 months after you still have areas that are numb/tingly/itchy/or get weird phantom sensations. That issue is still changing in color, texture, and density, often almost a year post op. Those are all signs your body are still healing and internally there’s still things being done. I’m personally approaching a year since my BBL and my scars are still changing color and texture. You want everything to be fully healed and stabilized before piercing. You should wait double the healing time of your surgery for most piercings to be totally viable, which means at least a year. You spent so much money and so much effort to get this surgery and heal it. Don’t mess it up by rushing to be pierced! Patience will lead you to have a much more successful and enjoyable piercing experience. Piercing too soon after surgery can lead to bad scarring, migration and rejection. The last thing you want is an awful scar marring your beautiful surgical results, when you could have waited longer and had a beautiful piercing instead. Patience pays!
Sometimes, I will request clients wait longer, or suggest further treatments on the area if the tissue does not feel healthy enough. And sometimes, it’s simply not possible to repierce after a surgery. A great example is anything that rebuilds the navel. Sometimes doctors don’t leave enough of a shelf to place a navel piercing in, and there’s nothing we can to to magically make more tissue grow. Definitely go into being pierced with realistic expectations, and don’t be to disappointed if the answer is no.
Don’t Expect it to be the Same Experience
Getting pierced through surgically altered tissue is absolutely a different experience than being pierced through healthy tissue. The piercing itself doesn’t feel too much different, but healing is an entirely different beast. You need to be must more fragile and cautious with healing these piercings. I often limit clients to just the most basic jewelry, something that’s very easy to heal with and not going to get caught or snagged. The concern is getting the piercing to heal first, fashion can be a worry once it’s fully healed! Regular followups are key to getting these to heal well, I ask my clients to see me for monthly checkups, or to stay in contact via social media during the healing process. These piercings can be a challenge to heal, and you should be prepared to need to do extra cleaning and care, and possibly purchase more jewelry for upsizing and downsizing as you heal. Definitely weigh the pros and cons of piercing after surgery, and make sure you are ready to give this piercing the time and energy it needs to heal correctly.
Pick an Experienced Piercer
Not every piercer has experience working on surgically altered tissue. It’s crucial as a client you find a piercer who is. Check portfolios, and ask questions about their experience with this. They should have photos to show healed piercings, and an understanding of what is done during these surgeries so they can understand how it alters the skin. A piercer must understand how the procedures are preformed in order to understand how the skin has been altered, and to understand what considerations need to be taken with piercing. They should also be honest with you about any risks surrounding doing the piercing, and how much of a chance they give it at healing. Ask plenty of questions, and don’t be afraid to consult with multiple piercers and get a few different opinions before committing to being pierced.
Plastic surgery, like piercings, are a fantastic way to modify your body for your own goals and desires. I love the support these days for people taking their bodies into their own hands, and work towards achieving their ideal looks! Plastic surgery and piercings can play nice, but it definitely takes some extra considerations and care. Please be cautious and mindful, but enjoy the process of modifying your body, however you choose to do so!