What it Was Like to Get a Cartilage Piercing

Oh, hello, are you another member of the “I have always wanted an unusual piercing and/or a tattoo but I have anxieties and indecisiveness that have prevented this from becoming a reality even as the decades go by one after another” club? It is a pretty exclusive club, but we have good pastries.

Yesterday I finally broke through and got a cartilage piercing, and I thought you might like to know what that was like. Here were my anxieties beforehand:

1. Maybe it will hurt for a long time afterward

2. Maybe it will get infected

3. I’ve heard the piercing might make a gross pop or crunch sound

4. Maybe something will go wrong and my ear will be deformed for the rest of my life

5. I don’t even know how much something like this will cost

6. I can’t decide where to put the piercing, or how many to get

7. What if the location “means” something? (this covers anything from a vague memory about how it matters which ear a guy gets pierced, to hoping I don’t pick a location privately referred to among piercers as The Boring Middle-Aged Mom)

8. Feeling self-conscious about being perceived as trying too hard to be cool

9. The place on the mall that did my lobe piercings says I have to find a licensed tattoo/piercing parlor for this, and I feel very nervous about everything about that: how to find one, whether I’ll feel dumb going into such a cool place, whether that means it’s going to cost a lot more than I expect, what they’ll think of me, why I still care about things like that, etc.

10. It’s a semi-permanent or potentially permanent thing (like if something goes wrong), and that is a nervous thing

11. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS UNFAMILIAR AND FULL OF CHOICES

12. Maybe I will regret it FOREVER

 

So! Yesterday I was feeling extremely cooped up in the house, so Rob and Elizabeth and I headed to the mall. I used to go to the mall ALL THE TIME when I had children in a stroller and I needed a place to walk around and kill time and buy things and eat lunch, all without having to fold up the stroller, but I haven’t been in literally years. For one thing, when the kids are no longer in a stroller, how do you carry all your STUFF? But the kids thought it was a keen idea, and I wanted to do something, ANYTHING, so off we went.

We had lunch in the food court, and that is just so excellent when I’m somewhere with more than one kid. We didn’t have to agree on a place and that was rad. After lunch we wandered around and found there really wasn’t anywhere any of us wanted to look. Oh, except Claire’s: Elizabeth and I both wanted to look at Claire’s. I wish I had a photo of my 6-foot teenage boy standing in Claire’s, surrounded by everything sparkly and fluffy and cute, looking pained as Elizabeth fairy-flew around saying “Oooooo look at this cute cat!!!” and “Ooooo owl earrings!!” and so forth.

I noticed that the piercing kiosk (not at Claire’s) that told me long ago they didn’t do cartilage piercings now had a big section of cartilage earrings and belly-button earrings, so I thought I would ask just in case they now did them. But no, they still do not, and also the clerk turned out to be one of those clerks who answers a question as if it’s the thousandth time a particular customer has asked her the question, rather than as if it is the very first time (or possibly second time for some of us, but YEARS apart) for each of a thousand customers. Eye roll, exasperated tone, defensive tone as if I had demanded to know why they didn’t rather than just asking if they did; she said the state only allows it to be done at licensed tattoo/piercing parlors.

Well. That was disappointing. I was pretty sure it would take me a good long time to investigate that option, or to follow through after I’d investigated—especially if I’d need to call ahead for an appointment instead of just walking in.

We continued through the mall. The kids were doing a fair amount of “Oh, I remember these gumball machines!!” and “Oh, I remember this tile pattern!!” and “The candy store is gone??” We were just to the part where we’d leave the mall and find our car, and I remembered we hadn’t yet found the rides. Elizabeth, age 11 and over 5 feet tall, was embarrassed to want to do one of the rides, but she DID want to do one, so we were going to do one. Also, that’s where the gumball/candy/toy machines were, and I was going to let them pick one thing each for old times’ sake.

As we walked round and round the gumball/candy/toy machines making our choices, I saw as if through a beam of heavenly light a sign placed in the entrance to a store: “State Licensed Piercing Parlor.” Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. Why, if there was a state-licensed piercing parlor IN THIS VERY MALL, did the clerk at the piercing kiosk NOT MENTION THAT FACT?? Furthermore, the store looked like a cool-but-not-scary jewelry store, and the person on duty in the store was a friendly-looking girl: glasses, normal appearance, not too cool, a few tattoos and piercings but just enough to show she’d know what was what, not enough to make me feel out of my league.

I asked if they did cartilage piercings, and she said yes they did, and I said this was my first time here and (*gesturing at walls COVERED with RACK UPON RACK of earring choices*) could she point me to the earring choices for the piercing? She said those would be in the back room where the piercing would take place. I was a little cheesed not to get to look at the options ahead of time but WHATEVER, let’s DO this!

First she took my driver’s license and made a copy of it so that the copy appeared on a sheet of info for me to fill out. I had to give my name, address, and age, and I had to write my driver’s license number on a line right next to the photocopy of my driver’s license number. I had to answer a series of half a dozen or so questions: was I pregnant or nursing? was I over 18? was I currently under the influence of drugs or alcohol? did I currently harbor any contagious diseases? was I allergic to latex or metal? did I understand that this could go very wrong indeed and I would have no legal recourse? No, yes, no, no, no, yes.

Then there was a care sheet she went over with me. When I got my earlobe piercings done (as a child and later as a high school student), there was a different philosophy for after-care than there is now. I remember I was supposed to wash the piercings with rubbing alcohol multiple times a day, and also turn the earrings a LOT: the idea was to keep the piercing sterile (the rubbing alcohol), and keep the earring from sticking to the skin while healing (the turning). Now the idea is to LEAVE THEM ALONE. Just…LEAVE THEM ALONE, stop TOUCHING them, GAH! She asked did I want the $6.99 after-care liquid, and I know from when we had Elizabeth’s ears pierced that the $6.99 after-care liquid is nothing more than saline I could buy for a dollar at Target, but I ALSO know it avoids a lot of talk and warnings to just buy the $6.99 after-care liquid. (At other times of life, I have gone the other way, and have figured it is worth saving $5.99 (($6.99 less the dollar to buy saline at Target)) to endure a few moments of discomfort with a clerk. But at this moment, I was more RIDE THE MOMENTUM than SAVE THE DOLLARS.) Anyway, the care plan is to spray the piercing every 3-4 hours with the saline but don’t otherwise touch them or turn them or mess with them at all. It’s going to be hard for me to override the earlier training: the alcohol-and-turning made more sense to me, though this plan makes sense too.

She said that if the piercing DID get infected, I should under no circumstances take the earring out. That instead I should come back any time the store was open to see the guy who does the piercings, and he would treat/help/advise. She also said I should not change the earring for 6-9 months. MONTHS. Which ratcheted up my feelings of stress about choosing the earring.

She said I could bring one person back into the piercing room with me, but that neither of us could do anything with photos or videos or any sort of recording. (I did not want to bring anyone back with me.)

I imagine it varies considerably from location to location and from type of piercing to type of piercing, but at THIS place it was $30.00 for one single cartilage piercing, plus the $6.99 for the saline. Then I sat on a couch and waited to be called. At this point I gave Rob a couple of dollars and told him to take Elizabeth to the rides. And just as they walked away, a nice non-threatening-looking man came out and called me back to the piercing room. He did not have any visible tattoos or piercings of his own; his hair was short. He looked like a lab technician: medical and conservative. (Your own piercing technician may vary.)

It was a small room, like a smallish dentist/doctor room. There was a chair a bit like a dentist chair and covered in paper, and a big mirror on the wall, and a bunch of cabinets, and one of those metal-tray rolling side-tables. There were certificates on the wall, presumably testifying that the person about to alter my body was trained, licensed, and authorized to do so. The piercing guy asked what we were doing today, and glanced at my receipt to confirm it.

He handed me the card of earring choices, which blew my circuits right out: there were about three dozen choices, and he was clearly thinking I would just pick one real quick, when my actual m.o. would be to take about six weeks to weigh the options. There were three basic categories of choices: colored stones bezel-set in gold or silver; colored stones non-bezel-set in gold or silver; and metal studs in gold, silver, or a blackened silvery metal. The metal studs were about twice the size of the colored-stone options, and I wanted something smaller, but I could not choose a color. I liked too many of them, but none of them enough to be clearly the one I wanted. I just couldn’t figure it out. I panicked and chose gold, even though it was (1) too big, (2) a fake-looking gold, and (3) not as fun as a colored stone.

The piercing guy asked where I wanted it placed, and I didn’t exactly know, and I’ve found in situations like that it sometimes helps to clarify the strength of my opinion so that the professional knows to feel free to suggest changes to the plan. So I said I had been thinking of “this region?”—indicating the curve of my ear from twelve o’clock to…well, nine o’clock or three o’clock, depending on how we are overlaying the clock concept with the ear concept. Upper outer quadrant, is what I mean. I said I was not sure where specifically I wanted it, but…here-ish?—indicating more specifically the eleven o’clock / one o’clock location. But I added “whatever seems best.” He put some stuff on the ear, washing it and sterilizing it I assume, and then drew a mark. He said, “Without. Touching. Your ear. Look in this mirror and tell me if it’s right.” I looked, and he’d drawn the mark more at ten o’clock / two o’clock. (I regret the clock imagery, but we’re too far in at this point.) I was very aware that this was an EASY change at this point if I wanted it higher; I also wanted to defer to his professional opinion; I was also aware that his professional opinion might be at the shrug-who-cares end of the spectrum so I didn’t want to defer TOO much. I weighed these elements and decided I liked where he had put it. For one thing, eventually I am thinking I want three piercings in a little arc, and this would be a nice position for the lowest of the three.

He unwrapped some thingies I didn’t look too closely at (one of them looked like too big of a pokey thing for me to want to think about it) and mentioned that these were all one-time-use supplies and would be used for me only. He took an earring out of a wee little baggie. I said, “Brace me for how much this is going to hurt,” and he said, “Oh, I think you’ll be surprised!” Me, aware that he really would not say that if he meant it would hurt MORE than I’d expect, but unable to avoid the follow-up just to be sure: “… … …A lot?” Him: “No, no, I mean pleasantly surprised!”

He had me lie down on my side, with the ear in question facing up. I felt him messing with my ear a little, dabbing/arranging it. Then he said, “Okay, take a deep breath,” and I did, and I didn’t count the seconds but my perception afterward was that it was about three seconds of pain. The pain was of a fully-bearable nature for that time period: that is, I thought to myself “Oof, ack, ouch,” but then it was over. It seemed to me it was about one second’s worth of the pain of the actual piercing, followed by one second’s worth of it continuing to hurt, followed by one second’s worth of pain from him putting the earring into the hole he’d just pierced.

I know this will vary from person to person and from piercing to piercing, but in my case I didn’t hear or feel any kind of crunch or pop. When I had my earlobes pierced, I remembered being surprised that the pain sensation was more of a really strong hot squeezing pinch, rather than the sharp point of pain I expected; in this case, the pain sensation was less of a pinch and more of a sharp point.

He spent another 20 seconds or so fussing with the ear, cleaning it up. Then he let me sit up and had me look at it, and I approved it and thanked him, and that was it. It all took so little time that when I left the piercing room Rob and Elizabeth were only just walking back into the waiting area. The clerk said, “How did it go?” and I said “Great!” and she said, “Great! Call if you have any questions or concerns!” and I said “Okay, I will!” and I walked out of there feeling really wonderful. Like “I DID IT!! I REALLY DID IT!! IT REALLY HAPPENED AND IT’S REALLY OVER AND DONE!!” Mixed with a sort of astonishment at how quickly and easily the whole thing was done, after so many years of thinking about it and worrying about it. It was a pleasingly casual experience, and I felt extremely good about finally pulling it off.

cartilage2

I had immediate and enduring regret over the earring choice (it’s so big! it’s such a fake-looking gold! why didn’t I just choose the nice light green? or the aqua? or the clear? or really ANYTHING AT ALL EXCEPT THE GOLD??), but I am always in need of practice in not wasting time thinking about small, temporary, unimportant stuff, so I will accept this next installment of the lifelong lesson plan. This is the unsurprising-result math equation I encounter again and again: “person who has trouble making snap decisions” + “forced snap decision” = “nearly inevitable regret.” And when the issue is an earring choice rather than, say, a life-threatening crisis situation, it’s really, really okay. If I continue to be bothered by it, I also have the option of going back to the store and saying to the nice friendly clerk that I regret my earring choice and is there any way to throw money at the problem to fix it? Like, what if I purchase another piercing earring, and have the piercing guy change the earring for me? I could even pay the entire $30 fee over again for this. Or, OR, I could DEFY THEIR RULES and buy my own piercing earring at another location and change it myself! Or I can just be PATIENT, and then get whatever I want after the long unendurable torment of Not Quite The Earring I Wanted is over. I DO have options here.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, the pain situation. So, as we were leaving the piercing place, my ear didn’t hurt even a tiny bit, but it did feel quite hot. All the way home, it didn’t hurt. All afternoon: no pain, just heat. Then I tucked my hair behind my ear as I do many times a day, and my hand brushed lightly against the back of the earring, and OH JEHOSHAPHAT LET’S NOT DO THAT AGAIN. But it didn’t hurt as long as I didn’t touch it, and it didn’t hurt to put the saline spray on it. Still, I started worrying how I was going to sleep, since my usual is to flip back and forth from side to side all night.

And it was a bit difficult: I hadn’t realized just how much I rely on the flipping back and forth until I couldn’t do it. I woke up a lot, and felt sad to have to be on just one side, and was very grateful I hadn’t tried to do piercings on both sides in the same session. One time I woke up to find myself cheating: I was on the side I wasn’t supposed to sleep on, with the pillow folded under the behind-my-ear area so that the ear was pretty much free.

When I woke up in the morning, the ear didn’t hurt at all. Like, I was very carefully taking out my braid, and my hand nevertheless brushed against the earring, and it felt like nothing. I jostled it a few times on purpose, and still nothing: it felt like a piercing I’d had for years. But just now I was jostling it again for comparison, and then realized I was actually jostling the higher-up one of my lobe piercings and not my new cartilage piercing, so. Hard to say for sure about earlier today.

I took a shower very cautiously: the care sheet says to avoid harsh soaps and shampoos, and to rinse thoroughly. I was not sure where “rinse thoroughly” and “quit TOUCHING it!” should meet, but I did my best. Afterward, I was verrrrrry careful when turbaning, brushing, styling my hair; when I jostled the earring, it did hurt a little, but not like yesterday when it was a startling feeling. I would use a word such as TENDER, rather than a word such as HOLY HELL.

At this point it’s been nearly 24 hours since I had the piercing done. I just jostled the earring on purpose a few times, and I would say “tender” still applies. I feel inclined to leave it alone. I will update later about how things go over the next…6-9 months.

Update 1: Second morning report. The clerk told me not to sleep on the piercing, but I kept waking up sleeping on that side. It was apparently not tender enough to prevent me from doing so. When I got up, I saw what looked like a small amount of very dark dried blood between the earring and my ear. I was glad I was about to get in the shower anyway so I didn’t have to decide what to do about it. I put the shower on its gentler setting and repeatedly let the water run over the piercing as I was showering. When I got out of the shower, the piercing looked clean and fresh again. The piercing still feels tender if I jostle it or accidentally knock into it. Part of the discomfort is that the cartilage part of the ear is so rigid. My lobe piercings feel as if they’ve got quite a bit of wiggle room, but the cartilage piercing is sturdier, and so feels wronger if gets wiggled.

Update 2: On Day….let’s see. I got it done on a Wednesday, and I am going to talk about Sunday, so that would be Day 5. On Day 5, my ear felt more tender than before, and was the hot-pink color it was the day it was pierced, and was very slightly swollen: not super-puffy or anything, but I could tell because the earring seemed to be a tighter fit than before.

Update 3: Two-and-a-half weeks. I am back to sleeping almost normally on that side: every so often there is a little twinge, but I just readjust the pillow. I stopped using the multiple-times-a-day saline spray about a week ago; I use it just if the piercing feels itchy or irritated. After I’ve rinsed my hair in the shower, I pull my hair aside and rinse just the piercing, front and back, for awhile—like, 15 to 30 seconds, probably. I lightly touch the back of the earring as I’m rinsing the front, and lightly touch the front of the earring as I’m rinsing the back, to make sure I’m rinsing between the earring and the skin. My ear is not pink or swollen anymore. The piercing is still sensitive if I jostle it, but not oh-holy-hell—just a twinge that makes me disinclined to jostle it. I wish I’d updated about a week ago when the piercing area felt Quite Itchy, so I’d know when that was and how long it lasted, but I forgot. Well, it was about a week ago, and I think it lasted a couple of days. It wasn’t call-the-doctor itchy, but it was itchy enough that I thought, “I hope this is HEALING itchiness and not INFECTION itchiness.” There were no other symptoms besides pinkness (and the pinkness might have been because I kept furtively scratching my ear): no oozing or swelling whatever.

I’m feeling happier with the gold stud: it helped considerably when I replaced the smaller gold stud in my up-high lobe piercing, because now the two golds match in color. Also, as I got used to the cartilage piercing it just seemed much less noticeable over all. No one says, “OH! You got a new piercing!”—it’s not noticeable enough for that. It’s much less of a big deal than I’d thought it would be, and I mean that in the positive sense. I feel very happy about doing it, and a little silly for waiting so long.

43 thoughts on “What it Was Like to Get a Cartilage Piercing

  1. Claire

    It looks great. Good for you! I got my nose pierced again on a (very-long-wanted-it-since-my-first-fell-out-15-years-ago) whim a couple years ago, and I LOVE(d) it. My experience was similar to yours as far as pain goes, but I had mine done in a tattoo shop, so let’s just say the bedside manner was bit different. The ocean claimed my stud recently, but I’m going back to get it pierced yet again soon. On the other side!
    I think sometimes we “boring middle-aged moms” catch flack for doing such things as piercings and tattoos (both of which I participate in), but I think life is too short not to have the (body) accessories you want and to worry about what other people think. I can’t wait to see what earring you settle on in 6-9 months. At least you have plenty of time to choose!

    Reply
  2. Kira

    Congratulations on your lovely piercing! In your position, I would be just about equally pleased with the fact I’d done it as with the fact of the earring itself. It does look gorgeous, though.

    Reply
  3. Kristin

    Congrats! It looks great! I have two myself, and I’d say you did a really great job of summing up the process. I was nodding uh-huh the whole way, except for the fact that in my case, I did have a popping noise. Also, the process apparently hasn’t changed much since the late 90s. Heh. And if it matters at all, I still have both and I still like them 15 years later (both simple silver hoops).

    Reply
  4. Shelly

    This story is perfect in every way. SO much detail, such a great build-up of suspense, and then, just as I was scrolling impatiently, I saw that yes, there WAS a picture, and I could calmly proceed through the story. And such a satisfying conclusion. Loved it.

    Reply
  5. MomQueenBee

    I’m so proud of you! I feel as if I had the experience myself. Now would you please get a primary color streak in your hair so I can know how I’d feel about that?

    Reply
  6. nonsoccermom

    Looks great! This is actually a topic on which I have experience – I have 3 cartilage piercings myself, one of which I’ve had done two different times. (Also I’ve had my bellybutton pierced twice and have two tattoos but that is not relevant here.)

    One piercing is in the same general vicinity of yours, just higher up – this is the one that’s been done twice. The first time I actually had it done at Claire’s (this was almost 20 years ago in Texas). I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS OPTION, EVEN IF AVAILABLE. They used the same gun as for lobe piercings, and it HURT. This was the most painful piercing I’ve EVER had, both at the point of piercing and for MONTHS after. The gun of course puts in a stud, and since this was so high on my ear my hair kept getting tangled and it was impossible to sleep on that side. The requisite 6-9 months later, my college roommate helped me take out the stud and put in a small hoop (SO PAINFUL) but after that it felt much better and I could actually sleep on that side again. I had this piercing through college, then took it out when I was job-hunting after graduation.

    Several years later (after getting married and having both kids) I decided I missed that piercing and wanted it back. The hole was still there in the cartilage but the skin had of course long since healed over it. This time I went to a tattoo place to have it done and it was a much less painful experience. The needle used is a much larger gauge than the piercing gun, so a thicker hoop can go in. This heals much better overall. The piercer actually scolded me for having it done with a gun years before – he says it crushes the cartilage and causes damage. I still couldn’t sleep on that side of my head for several months after, but it wasn’t nearly as painful as the original piercing. I currently have a c-shaped earring in it (with screw-on balls on either end). I like it, but my hair gets tangled all the time. I keep intending to have it changed back to the full hoop, but my neighborhood tattoo place doesn’t currently have a piercer on staff and it’s just easier to have a professional change it out for me.

    I also have a daith piercing. Same deal – went to a tattoo place (6-7 years ago?), had a similar experience to what you’ve described. This one didn’t hurt at all, and I didn’t have any trouble sleeping on that side of my head even the first night. It did feel hot at first, but by the next day – totally fine. Never any pain or complications, even years later. Both the daith and upper cartilage piercings are in my left ear.

    Third cartilage piercing is in my right ear. Lower outer conch, I guess. It’s just a plain stud, so it looks like a silver ball just sitting in my earlobe. This one was kind of a whim. My husband and I were in Reno without the kids, and I thought hey WHY NOT. It hurt for just a second (like a strong pinch) and then felt really hot the rest of the night. Had a little trouble sleeping on it the first few months, but it has been fine ever since.

    I was told by the first tattoo-shop piercer that saline solution for contacts works just as well as any solution they sell for after care, so I’ve just always used that. At the time I wore soft lenses so had it on hand, and it’s cheap and readily available. I think each of these piercings cost me around $45-60 depending on the tattoo shop.

    Well! That was long. Apparently I have a lot of words to say about piercings. I look forward to reading about others’ experiences!

    Reply
    1. Emily

      Interesting re: earring gun. My parents’ friend is an ENT doctor, and he sufficiently freaked me out from ever getting a cartilage piercing by telling me horror stories of girls with crushed, deformed cartilage. Now I’m assuming the gun was the culprit. However, I’ve had many friends and a sister with cartilage piercing and no deformities, and I’ve never come across a story in our fear based media filled with dry drownings and dresser crushings and c-sections sepsis, so I’m guessing it is actually very very rare.

      Reply
  7. Di

    WIth the exception of the pain factor, your process is a lot like mine when dying my hair. I’ve got short brown mom hair, with a blonde streak through the bang-ish part. From time to time, I change up the color of the bleachy bit – right now it’s blue!

    Every time I think about it – I waffle and wemble about it until I up and do it.

    Reply
  8. Rebecca

    This was a great read! I also had my top part of my ear pierced — I was in college, so over 20 years ago. I found that despite not having a single issue with any of my other lower ear piercings, I had a terrible time trying to get this one to heal (this was back in the twirling/rubbing alcohol days!) and I also could not sleep on it for a very long time. For whatever reason, I became very stubborn about keeping this piercing (I probably should have just pulled it out and let it go!) and after several months of moderate pain, I finally thought to remove the piercing stud and put in a very small 14k gold hoop. The infection cleared up almost immediately. In having the piercing for 20+ years, I have only recently replaced that hoop as it finally became too mis-shaped (mis-shapened?) to use anymore. I bought another one on Etsy for less than $20 and had my husband and father in law put it in for me. I am only telling you that long winded story in case you experience anything similar….maybe it will help you keep it! Good luck!!

    Reply
  9. jill

    You look so great! I’ve thought about doing this but am concerned because I don’t do well on antibiotics and I’m afraid it would get infected and I would have to choose between coma and death.

    Reply
  10. Matti

    It looks great! And think of all the shopping options this opens up!
    “11. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS UNFAMILIAR AND FULL OF CHOICES

    12. Maybe I will regret it FOREVER”

    There may have never been a more accurate description of my decision making processes. I’m so impressed by your for just doing it!

    Reply
  11. misguidedmommy

    I think the gold was actually a good choice. Here is why, and this is obviously only my version of crazy, but anyway. I feel like personally if I had gone with a teal, or pink, or COLOR, I personally would have felt compelled to match my lower earrings to the color of the stone, and 6-9 months of one color earring would drive me mad. However with gold I feel like it would simply accent any color bottom earrings I chose, and I like that. Then, in 6-9 months you can purchase a few colored earring to match your lower earrings. However, I think a solid metal color for the next six months will be much easier to match around.

    Reply
  12. e

    Hello Swistle, I don’t think I knew what you looked like, and you look very pretty in that picture! The earring placement looks great. Is the earring like a regular stud with a removable/pop off back, or does it have a screw-on ball thing on the back?

    Reply
    1. Swistle Post author

      I am feeling very delicately, and it feels like a regular stud back, like the kind that will pop off with a little snap.

      Reply
  13. Nimble

    Looks good! and the gold is a neutral so I hope it won’t bother you too much until January.
    My 14 year old wanted a cartilage piercing (very similar spot to yours) for her birthday last fall. We live in a state where you have to go to a piercer but we also live near the border with another state that lets the Claire’s employees do cartilage piercings. I read about the worst case scenarios and they sounded pretty outlier-y, discussed it with the 14 y.o. and decided to go ahead. She hasn’t had any trouble.

    Reply
  14. sooboo

    It looks really cool and I think gold was a good choice as you won’t have to match it to the other earring or your top for 6 to 9 months! I would google that time frame as it seems way too long. It would drive me nuts to sleep with earrings in. I hate when the earring backs poke into my skin.

    Reply
  15. Jesabes

    I really like the look of that and now kind of want to get one myself. I also rely heavily on flipping from side to side when sleeping, though, and don’t want to jeopardize that. It is good to keep in mind though – if I got one it would definitely be on the right ear, since I sleep on the left side of the bed and prefer to face out (lying on my left side). Especially if my husband (who also flips back and forth) is facing in, because breath anywhere near my face is NO NO NO.

    Reply
  16. Chris

    This post was so entertaining I read it to my husband as we’re at the tail end of a long drive home from camping. I also got an upper ear cartilage piercing this year- two in fact, right next to each other, to celebrate my 30th birthday. I had similar worries about placement, style, color, pain etc. You are so lucky though bc in my state the piercings are $30 each and the jewelry is EXTRA! I was lucky that my friend bought one piercing/earring of the two for my birthday gift. I love how it turned out- about the same spot as you and one higher, and I chose a bright blue stone color for both. The top one is a little bigger gauge. I LOVE it and I’m so pleased I did it, and I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it. I was worried I was trying to seem younger by doing it, but I love it and that’s all that matters. I desperately wish I could show you a picture.

    Also, I think you are quite lucky in the pain department- mine was the desperate type of pain for several weeks after when accidentally bumped. I got it done in January and it’s quite fine and healed now. If jewelry wasn’t so expensive I would probably get something to switch it up a bit!

    Reply
  17. Amanda

    Here is a tip: when you get your hair cut, make sure you ask the hair dresser to watch out for it, or once it’s healed, take it out beforehand. I lost mine more than once from it being combed out by a stylist, and not only is it a bummer if it’s an earring you like, but it isn’t an especially comfortable sensation either.

    Reply
  18. Tayna

    I’m sure you’ve heard it before but let me say it again. If you feel it getting infected, do not go back to the place you got it done!!!! Go directly to the doctor, the sooner the better. My daughter turned 18, got the cartledge pierced. Week later….after following all directions, it got infected. She didn’t tell me. She went back to the place that did it. It got worse. She finally told me and I took her straight to the doctor. He sent her straight to a ENT. He took one look at it, from behind his desk and sent us straight to the ER. A few hours later she was in surgery. Her ear is now deformed. The doctor told us there is no blood flow to that part of the ear so it is really hard to clear up infections. IV antibotics were also given for 3 days.

    I’m sure you heard it before, but the key is this….the doctor said if she had come in right away and gotten antibotics she probably would have saved the piercing and her ear would be fine.

    But…saying all that…It really looks good! I like it!

    Reply
      1. Emily

        Oh. Okay. Never mind. Now I have read about an ear going deformed. Yikes! That was a red flag for me too…I’d definitely see a doctor over a piercer if I had an infection!

        Reply
        1. Swistle Post author

          It sounded to me as if that were more an issue of “waiting wayyyyyy too long to see someone about it.”

          Reply
          1. Tayna

            Yes, she waited about a week too long before telling me about it. 18 years old and thought she knew everything. I just thought you would like to know what the doc said. I’m sure YOU wouldn’t wait too long!!!!!

  19. Rebecca

    It’s very nice, and I agree with the people who said the neutral gold is better for matching purposes.

    I have several piercings and always want more. I’ve not had my upper ear cartilage pierced but I did get my tragus pierced about a year and half ago and I love it. It didn’t hurt much at all, but I was quite surprised at how much it bled initially. I was not prepared for that. It was easily the least painful piercing I’ve had. (Worst = navel, but I think it might have not been done perfectly.)

    Reply
    1. Swistle Post author

      I would describe it as “hard to read.” I’ve mentioned it before to him, so I was pretty sure he wasn’t violently opposed, but I think he may have been quite surprised to see me follow through! And then tried to act chill about it.

      Reply
  20. karen

    I didn’t read all the previous comments, so this may be a repeat, but….. DO NOT ignore their instructions and try to change that earring yourself too early. My daughter did that, and was unable to get the new one into the hole. Those piercings take a long time to be OK with changes; I don’t think they will even do it in the shops for you until 6 months.

    Reply
  21. Ruby

    AHHHHH it looks great! I once had cartilage piercings on both sides, but I eventually had to take them out because evidently I have Special Snowflake cartilage that does not like being pierced and will remain angry and red and painful for months afterward. (Also, if anyone reading this is planning on getting both cartilages pierced, might I suggest not getting them done at the same time? It makes sleeping quite logistically challenging.)

    Reply
  22. Brenna

    I got a scaffold/industrial piercing many years ago, and I finally got so fed up with the sleeping situation I ended up buying a donut pillow. It’s like the inflatable hemorrhoid pillows, but it’s memory foam and has a washable cover. So that’s an idea if you can’t stop sleeping on it.

    Reply
  23. Allison

    I love how well you articulate how so many of us feel about this kind of thing. And I would especially have been worried about the crunching thing. And I have the same decision-making angst every damned time I get a pedicure, and if I get the wrong toenail polish it can ruin a whole vacation (okay, not really, but every time I look at the slightly-too-dark shade of orange it vexes me). And I think the gold is really nice with your skin tone and hair colour.

    Reply
  24. Emily

    Very thorough! Thank you!

    What I found most interesting was the updated recommendation on not turning the posts. I got my ears pierced for the first time when I was ten, and it was a Big Deal, and I was super excited. I cleaned them every day, and turned them all the time…I thought I was being very responsible and dutiful. What I didn’t realize is that each time I turned my earring, I was twirling my hair with it. Somehow hair was winding around the posts and getting inside the earring hole. I had this mass of unruly hair…I don’t even know.

    Well, eventually they got so infected and painful and I didn’t want to tell my mom for fear that I’d have to take them out. But when they started bleeding and pussing everywhere, and I couldn’t sleep, I was left with no choice.

    I will never forget standing in my parents’ bathroom while she freaked out…my earlobes were swollen, and oozing, and so, so disgusting…she was pulling broken strands of hair out of the hole all like, “that’s it! You weren’t ready for this! You are closing these holes up and you can try again when you’re twelve!”

    Devastated. And when I got them done again, I barely touched them and they healed perfectly. Same with my second and third hole. So, to me it makes sense and could have saved ten year old me a lot of grief! ;)

    Reply

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