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Weight Loss, Weight Gain, & Piercings

One of the more common questions I get as a professional piercer is “Will losing weight affect my piercing? What about gaining weight? I’m in the middle of a weight gain/loss journey- can I get pierced?” According to the CDC, 80% of people will try more than one way to lose weight, and at any given time roughly 17.1% of Americans are dieting as part of a weight loss journey. Most folks will experience weight fluctuations and changes over their lives, and I think it’s natural to be curious about how these changes may affect things like our piercings. So let’s delve deeper!


Weight Loss and Piercings


When it comes to losing weight, I have some generally good news- it’s not very likely to affect most piercings, and it generally takes a considerable amount of weight change to do so. When we healthily lose weight, the weight loss is gradual over time, giving our bodies time to adjust to it. As anyone who has struggled with stubborn areas on their body, there’s also no way to spot reduce fat- so it’s not like you are losing from just one specific area- you lose weight all over as you go down. Losing 10 or 15 pounds is a lot- but distributed all over your body, it’s not nearly as much as losing it from just one place. This is why it does take a substantial amount of weight loss to really affect most piercings.  The majority of clients are not going to fluctuate severely enough in weight from just weight loss or gain alone to really majorly affect their piercings. However, some people may, especially in instances of large amounts of weight loss.


Navel piercings can be among the most affected, and also the piercings I’m asked about the most often. Many folks can hold more body fat around their stomachs, and many may be focusing weight loss or gain efforts on these areas. As you lose weight, especially large amounts of weight, you may notice the skin on the stomach becoming looser, and this can also occur with piercings. Many clients have reported feeling like the skin of their navel piercing has become loose with larger amounts of weight loss. Occasionally folk’s navel changes shape, which can very much affect how the piercing sits and what jewelry is comfortable to wear. You may find yourself needing to get shorter jewelry, experiment with different styles, or temporarily remove your piercing as your skin recovers. If there is enough loose skin on the stomach that it covers the navel or may put compression on the piercing, a piercing may not be viable anymore.


As facial fat changes, you may notice changes to some facial piercings, predominantly surface piercings, some oral piercings, and things like cheek piercings. Surface piercings can sometimes deal with migration and even rejection as body fat changes affect how they sit in the tissue. Most oral piercings are minimally affected, sometimes just becoming irritated or needing longer or shorter jewelry.


Cheeks in particular are notoriously difficult piercings even at the best of times. In both my personal and professional experience I’ve noticed that any weight loss (or gain) that affects the face typically quickly affects cheek piercings. They are quick to produce crust and secretions, get irritated, and demand attention, cleaning, and often different jewelry. I have one regular client who has been losing weight since a few months into healing their cheeks and has noticed as they reach different weight loss milestones, they can often tell by their cheek piercings. They get long and a bit grumpy, and that’s consistently been a sign they are down another set weight amount. You may find as you lose weight you need to shorten the jewelry you wear in your cheeks to accommodate for that, and you may also find you need to swap the style of backing inside your mouth to be more comfortable. Despite what you may expect, you may end up lengthening jewelry first to accommodate irritation due to weight changes, and then downing to something shorter than you previously had. Cheeks can be a rollercoaster at the best of times, and any body changes like weight loss or gain will affect them.


Nipple piercings, particularly on breasts, can sometimes be affected by this as well. Breasts are made predominantly of fat, meaning when we are losing fat all over our bodies, we lose from breasts as well. Now the rate at which you lose weight doesn’t affect the elasticity of your skin, but if you lose a significant amount of weight you will have some loose skin everywhere, and that may feel more prominent on your breasts. Some clients do experience needing different sizes or styles of jewelry to account for the changes they experience in their breast and chest tissue during weight fluctuations.



Weight Gain and Piercings


Much like weight loss, mild to moderate weight gain generally doesn’t affect most piercings, and also takes a pretty significant amount for most people to start noticing it. In general, if you are fluctuating 10-25lbs, you probably aren’t going to see any effects on your piercings, even facial piercings and navel piercings. Much like you don’t lose weight in just one area, you also generally don’t gain it in just one area. That gain is spread out across your body- so it takes more than you’d expect to really impact our piercings. Many people can fluctuate even more than that with no discernible changes. However, for some folks, weight changes of more than 25-50lbs may have some effects on some facial and body piercings.


Navels are among the most commonly affected, as numerous folks tend to hold more body fat around their stomachs. As your stomach grows, you may find you need to wear slightly longer or larger jewelry to accommodate the new tissue. In some rare cases, this change can cause migration and even rejection to occur, although this is not very common. Some folks do find the shape of their navel changes from much larger amounts of weight gain, and they may have to wear an entirely different style of jewelry than they previously did due to these changes. If as you gain it causes rolls or creases to form along your stomach that directly impact your navel, this may cause irritation or issues for existing piercings, or make new piercings no longer viable.


As facial fat changes, you may notice changes to some facial piercings, predominantly surface piercings, some oral piercings, and things like cheek piercings. Surface piercings can sometimes deal with migration and even rejection as body fat changes affect how they sit in the tissue. Most oral piercings are minimally affected, sometimes just becoming irritated or needing longer or shorter jewelry.


Now cheeks get special mention because they are notoriously difficult piercings even at the best of times. In both my personal and professional experience I’ve noticed that any weight gain (or loss) that affects the face typically quickly affects cheek piercings. They are quick to produce crust and secretions, get irritated, and demand attention, cleaning, and often different jewelry. You may find as you gain weight you need to lengthen the jewelry you wear on your cheeks to accommodate for that, and you may also find you need to swap the style of backing inside your mouth to be more comfortable. Cheeks can be a rollercoaster at the best of times, and any body changes like weight loss or gain will affect them.


Nipple piercings on breasts, as mentioned above, can be moderately affected by changes in weight. Weight gain can cause the breasts to increase in size, just as weight loss can shrink them. Clients may find themselves needing longer jewelry to account for these changes. Larger breasts may also necessitate wearing different bras to be comfortable, and you may need to play around with what jewelry styles work with those bras.


When to Get Pierced?


For many who are on a journey with weight, the pressing question is when should I get pierced? Is there a best time? And honestly, there’s not! I would encourage you to get whatever piercings you want when you are ready to get them. Just try to use some common sense about it. For example, if you are working on losing a large amount of weight and the primary way you are doing this is a high-contact physical sport where you get hit and tackled and knocked around- that’s a hard environment to heal piercings in! Maybe refrain from getting pierced, or start with just one or two and focus on healing those fully before adding more. If you are on a weight gain journey and you are mostly doing that with diet- not getting tackled every weekend- you’ll probably have an easier time healing more piercings and more complex piercings than our very active friend.


If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to talk to your piercer about timelines. We can listen to your specific situation, and advise you on what would be the best place to start, the best timeline to work in, and how we can make sure your piercings still have a great time and don’t impact your weight journey.


Eating Disorders


The above sections discussed weight loss and gain from the perspective of a healthy, moderate, controlled diet and lifestyle for the purpose of either gaining or losing weight. However, the conversation about the effects of weight changes on piercings is not complete without also discussing some of the unhealthy ways people may choose to approach weight. I have been in recovery from eating disorders myself since high school, and I work with a large portion of clients who seek body piercings as a way to reclaim their body and heal their relationship with their body during active ED and in recovery. Piercings can be really powerful tools to assist with recovery and help motivate you to nourish your body, be kind to your body, and be present in your body through the process of getting and healing a piercing. But, getting pierced while in a state of malnutrition makes healing a piercing very difficult. Lack of proper nutrients means our immune systems don’t have everything they need to work on healing a complex wound like a piercing well. This is a wound with a foreign object (jewelry) trapped in it, and this is a monumental task for our bodies to heal. As such, our bodies really rely on having proper nutrition to fuel this healing process. Many clients who are malnourished may experience prolonged healing times, irritation that doesn’t easily subside, or feeling like their piercings never progress past a certain point in healing. Active ED can cause dry, yellowing skin that is fragile and may lead to greater instances of migration. Excessive rapid weight loss may also lead to migration and rejection. Excessive and rapid weight gain such as from binge eating can also lead to the same. Clients in active disordered eating should consider the strain this already puts on the immune system, and the further strain adding piercings into the mix will do. That said, piercings can be a motivator to try to eat more and eat better, or balance our eating habits. Sometimes we may not want to take care of ourselves, but we do want to take care of our piercings. So allow your piercing to be maybe a motivator to be kinder to your body!


Medical Weight Loss and Gain


While we are on the subject of weight loss and gain, I also want to discuss medical weight changes. This can be due to side effects from medications, complications from illness or injury, weight loss surgery, or part of a larger diagnosis. Whatever the case may be, weight loss from medical circumstances can often behave differently than controlled weight loss done through diet and movement. For example, many hormonal medications can cause rapid weight changes. These also cause major changes to our hormones, which can have a huge impact on our piercings. When we look at weight changes caused by medical circumstances, we have to look at the exact causes and outside impacts they might have. For example, gaining weight from changing birth control may have some effect on our piercings- but the changing hormonal levels that caused this weight gain will also have a significant impact on things. If you’ve experienced weight fluctuation due to medical causes, I would suggest getting some in-person troubleshooting with your piercer, and also consider bringing your doctors in on the issues as well.



My hope is this blog can help those going through journeys with weight, and help them feel prepared and confident in the way piercings will be affected by the process. And please remember, no matter your size or the shape of your body, you are valuable, beautiful, and wonderful just as you are. You don’t have to change anything unless that’s what feels right for you. Happy healing!







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