July 2nd, 2012
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.
May 25th, 2012
I was asked a question recently that I hadn't heard before:
At one of the tattoo shops I work in, one of the apprentice tattoo artists wants me to pierce a helix on both ears. No problemo. However he has "cauliflower ear" in both. I've been doing some research about specifically what causes it, also I've talked with him about it. He told me that he used to be a boxer, which is somewhat common. But he never had them drained.
I have never pierced a cauliflower ear, and honestly I've never been presented with this question. So I'm curious to know if its something that I should or should not do ? I'm also curious to know what your experience is, and what you think. :) Thanks.
That's an awesome question! It is one I have never been asked before. And in all my years of experience, I've never had a request to pierce an ear that has been injured in this way.
From my understanding of the situation, I'd be very wary about piercing such anatomy. As I imagine you know, the condition itself results from the surface tissue being separated from the cartilage, and is a problem that is caused by a lack of vascularity. To me that would indicate that the healing capacity of the area is even worse than usual (and we all know cartilage is rather finicky when it comes to healing).
If he can bring you a doctor's note that says piercing is not medically contraindicated in his case, I'd consider it. Short of that, I'd personally stay away from an area that is highly likely to be problematic healing.
March 11th, 2009
I received an email from a piercer who wanted to know about the safety of performing "dimple" or cheek piercings:
I have heard horror stories that piercing someone cheeks can hit a wrong nerve on someone. I was wondering if that was true? I was taught that there is no danger in doing this piercing? Do you have a set measurement that you use on people as to make sure not to do any damage? I'm really uncomfortable performing any sort of piercing if there is a very big risk involved.I explained that I no longer do cheek piercings due to the WORST complications that ever happened to somebody I pierced. For better or worse, it happened to me. In my book you can read the detailed explanation of why I don't do cheek piercings beyond the first molar. The areas of concern are the parotid duct and gland, rather than a particular nerve. I let her know she might be able to preview the story about it on page 119 of my book here on google books. She called her client who had been interested in getting cheek piercings to decline, and then she emailed me again in understandable frustration:
UHHHHHHHHHHH PEOPLE PISS ME OFF!!!!!!!!!!!! So I called my client back today and told her very nicely that I was no longer offering cheek piercings and explained to her why and even told her about the story in her book..... You know what her response was to this??? "Well do you know anyone else in the area that does them?" ??? WTF!!!!! Hello didn't I just tell you a horror story and explain to you WHAT can happen!!! uhhhhhhhhhh I just don't get people sometimes!!!We can lead people to good information, but it doesn't mean they'll use it. Or in this case, I can't help thinking, "We can't educate people who don't have half a brain."