Size Matters: Initial Piercing
Size Matters! At least, when it comes to piercings it does. Now, in piercing size could refer to a number of different things: The thickness of a piece of jewelry, aka the gauge, the length of straight or curved jewelry, or the diameter of round jewelry. For this article, we are focusing on length and diameter, specifically for initial piercings! How long or short a piece of jewelry is makes a huge difference! It can effect how well a piercing heals, jewelry choices that can be worn, and the over all look and fashion of a piercing.
Initial piercing jewelry is pretty different than what you might wear in a healed piercing. And, of course it would be! There are totally different considerations for a new piercing than for a healed one. New piercings are going to swell, which is totally normal. They are also going to produce crust and scabs, which need to be cleaned away. Also normal. But these factors mean that extra room needs to be left to accommodate for swelling and healing. Jewelry should also be an appropriate style for a healing piercing, which might not be the style you were dreaming of. Today, let’s look deeper at what goes into sizing for a new piercing!
It’s a simple fact- a new piercing is going to swell. Now, don’t panic, because you aren’t going to have an ear the size of your fist! But, the area around your piercing might be puffy, and a little pink and tender. All normal. Because of this swelling, we need to leave extra room on the jewelry. In a helix or earlobe, this means the extra length on the post. In a daith, this is a larger diameter ring. In a rook, a longer curved barbell. Whatever the piercing, a little extra room makes all the difference to successful healing. Now, there’s no one size fits all in body piercing, and this includes with length for initial piercing. Let’s look as helix piercing as an example. If someone has a pretty thick helix, I might start them a little longer then my average size. Likewise, if someones ear is paper thin, I might start them a little shorter than my average. If I’m doing a double or triple, or a few piercings in one ear, I might go a little longer! Note I say my average- that’s because climate plays a role in swelling too! When I travel to different parts of the country to pierce, my sizing changes as the climate changes. So if you are traveling, tell your piercer, so they can size you for your home climate! Your body plays a role too. If I know a client is prone to excess swelling, I’ll air on the side of caution and pierce them a bit longer. Likewise, I have some good regulars I know never swell (often a side effect of medication they may be on!) And they get jewelry a little shorter to start. Because jewelry needs to be long to start, it's important to downsize the jewelry after a few weeks or months, once that swelling goes down.
Rings aren’t the Devil, but they are Hard Mode
Shape brings unique sizing considerations with a healing piercing. With a straight barbell, a little extra length is easy to achieve- the barbell is a little longer. With a ring however, to have extra room for swelling, the diameter of the entire piece gets larger. That makes rings for initial piercing pretty oversized, which is not the look most people are going for. Most folks want a cute, super snug ring, and that’s not what they are going to get. Besides that, the extra room on the ring often makes it easy for things to get caught and snagged. Daiths, Septums, and some genital piercings are an exception to this rule. But things like nostrils, helixes, and conches, are going to be a harder heal with a ring. And some piercings, like rooks, forward helixes, or navels, I simply won't pierce with a ring, because they cause too many issues during healing. Another consideration is rings often need to be thicker, but that’s a subject for the gauge portion of this series! Overall, definitely something to take into consideration when choosing your new piece!
Size Matters- and that goes for Ends too
Yep, its not just the size of the post or wearable part of the jewelry that matters. It’s also what you put on it. For an initial piercing, the size of the end or decorative piece is important too. Some pieces are just way too large to be practical to heal with, or too large for that placement. For example, you can wear some big awesome stuff in a forward helix once its healed. But for healing, a large piece that covers your entire forward helix just isn’t practical to heal with and keep clean! Conches and Flats are great locations to heal larger pieces, but you’ll find them more difficult to clean under, so these are for experienced or dedicated clients for sure. And you can put some big stuff in an earlobe- but its going to spin like crazy while it heals, and that may bother you, and cause issues.
And its not just the overall size of the end- height matters too. A tall piece on a nostril or flat is going to get caught all the time! That is something to be mindful of as well. Definitely talk with your piercer, and possibly make compromises. Maybe start with something a little less flashy and fun, let things heal, and then invest in that gigantic, amazing piece you’ve been eying.
We don’t have once size fits all bodies, our body jewelry shouldn’t be either
There’s no magic number or size that’s best for a new piercing or the “right” size to go with, just like there’s no “right” shoe size. It’s about the right size for you, and that looks different person to person! Being sized appropriately for a new piercing is key. It’s a huge red flag if a piercer or staff member doesn’t even look at the area you want to have pierced before setting up for you. And the size you get might not be the size your friend gets, or your mom gets. Hell, you might not get the same sizing from one visit to the next! Bodies are variable, and always changing the factors we rely on with sizing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the sizing choice, and also listen when we warn you something might be too small, too big, too long or too short. We promise- we have your best interests at heart!
Jewelry sizing is one of the most complex, multi-faceted elements of piercing. Every client has a totally unique body that requires totally unique sizing all its own. But that’s also what makes this job so interesting and fun! Remember for your next new piercing to expect some extra room on the bar, and to make make some compromises in the style and fashion of your initial piece. Don’t fret, it’ll be healed before you know it, and you’ll be rocking some dreamy goal pieces once it is. Stay tuned for the next part of my sizing series: Gauge!