More Cheek Piercing Dangers

I got a message from a woman who had a really bad cheek piercing experience:

I recently had an awful experience with some cheek piercings. Long story short, after 2 days of what I decided was an unjustifiable amount of swelling on my right side I went back to the piercer to ask them to change out the bar which just wasn't able to cope with it. After some time, which was partially spent trying to find some way to blame me for the swelling, they agreed to change it. Immediately my face started gushing out blood, the woman who took it out blanched and leapt away from me while the other ran from the room to call an ambulance. I just can't stress how very much blood was coming out, both congealed from 2 days of sitting under the skin and fresh.

I had done some rather substantial research on cheek piercings prior and although people did mention that there was a chance of hitting a vein I never actually came across any stories of this happening, most people finishing the warning with 'it's nearly impossible though'. I was wondering if you've heard any stories similar to this and if there were any long term affects I should be wary of. At the moment it seems fairly superficial, some bruising and the healing opening but I can't seem to shake a kind of not-quite-but-nearly-numb, stiffness in my cheek. My doctor, not seen this before, could only prescribe me some antibiotics and tell me to come back if I don't feel any improvement.
Thank you.

In fact I have heard of this same problem occurring. It was recently, at the annual conference for the Association of Professional Piercers. I co-taught a course in Oro-Facial anatomy at the conference.

There are some large blood vessels in this area, and it is possible for a piercer to puncture one, and result in exactly what happened to you. Did your piercer use a bright light to examine the area? That can cut down on the likelihood of this problem.

The good news is that you're likely going to be just fine. Here's a brief excerpt from my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing:

Piercings that bleed under the surface can leave a colorful bruise. Arnica montana (a natural herb) may help to diminish the discoloration. Arnica is available in cream or gel form at health food stores. Apply it on the bruise, but do not put it directly into the wound.

On occasion, some localized swelling of a fresh piercing can impinge upon a nerve, causing temporary numbness or tingling, loss of taste in oral piercings, or diminished hearing in ear piercings (rare). However, barring an unusual placement or healing complications, these are transient troubles.

So, I would anticipate normal sensation will return once the wound and the aftermath from it are healed.

Had you read "The Worst Piercing Story" from my book? A .pdf file of it is attached for you. Click the link below.

Worst Piercing Story (Cheek Piercing Nightmare)

I just got my cheeks pierced on saturday, i went in and said, I want my cheeks pierced, the woman said that right beside my lips was the placement she thought was best for me, ot being what I wanted she tried to explain that there are blood vessels that can be hit and where she was piercing was the best. I didnt want this location but she led me to believe that it would look like ... it did not. I came home and was very unhappy. the shop was closed sunday and I called on monday to tell them I wanted the situation fixed, she said no problem just take the ones out that I have , wait a few days and come in and get re-pierced the way I originally wanted.

So I start to take out one cheek, blood squirts everywhere, all over me on my son across the room... like a horror movie when someone gets their throat slit. It was crazy... I soaked a towel completely... honestly I thought I was going to pass out from loss of blood... I put pressure on it and had my husband come home and sit with the baby... after 25 minutes the bleeding stopped, now I am waiting to see if my cheek fills with blood or if I will be ok.

If I had know that she was going to hit the blood vessel the first time I woul dhave made her pierce me where I wanted... ahhh should I go back and get them fixed, not sure