What do I do with this piercing during surgery?
August 30, 2010 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm having surgery but I have a septum piercing (14 gauge), what do I do?

I've had it for about three years so my first question is, how fast do these things close up? I've never had it out for more than a few minutes to clean it. I'll be in surgery for about 4 hours and then who knows how long it will take me to wake up from anesthesia. Is there any kind of plastic retainer I can put in that won't interfere with a breathing tube apparatus?
posted by MaryDellamorte to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your anesthesiologist has no doubt dealt with much bigger holes in someone's face at some point. Just be sure to mention the piercing to him/her.
posted by hooves at 6:32 PM on August 30, 2010

I know it's weird to think of it being out, but really, it'll be fine for the length of time you'll spend in the hospital. You don't need a retainer, and I can't imagine that your anesthesiologist wouldn't forbid it anyway.
posted by desuetude at 6:36 PM on August 30, 2010

Just so you know, I have a septum piercing I got about 8 years ago done at 10 gauge. After a year with it in it stayed open permanently. I never wear jewelery in it anymore yet i can always poke something through it without a problem. Are you sure you can't just leave it in?

If not, they do make retainers out of all kinds of materials that you can pick up at any reputable piercing shop.
posted by knowles at 6:39 PM on August 30, 2010

Response by poster: Can you tell me how you clean it, and what the hell comes out...dried snot, wet snot, blood, unidentifiable stuff...i think i grossed myself out, but id kinda like to know.

Haha, well it's all healed up now so the only thing that gets stuck to it is little bits of snot but it's definitely no snot magnet. I just take it out and scrape all the dried bits off, just takes about a minute.

Are you sure you can't just leave it in?

I'm positive. The surgeon says that it has to come out. No metal jewelry of any kind is allowed. He said something about putting a retainer in, but I think it would be better just to leave it out completely but I don't want it to close up.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:45 PM on August 30, 2010

You don't want any metal in there in case something happens and you need an MRI. A plastic (lucite, filament, wood, whatever) retainer might be a good choice, but to be honest I often go 3-4 weeks without putting anything in my 8-year-old nostril piercing and it only takes a tiny little pop to get a ring or stud back through. I've never worn anything in it consistently, except filament and stainless for the first 5 months or so.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:56 PM on August 30, 2010

Unless you've got comic-book-character healing powers, there's no way it'll close up. Take the jewelry out and don't worry about it.

(Worst-case scenario, the hole will shrink a tiny bit and you'll have to lube up the jewelry, or, go to the piercing parlor and have 'em run a taper through. Most places won't charge for this, but you'll still tip a few bucks. It's very unlikely that you'll need to do either of those things--I just want you to know there's a contingency plan.)
posted by box at 7:22 PM on August 30, 2010

Oh, I forgot the go-to answer for this kind of question! A loop of fishing line!
posted by knowles at 7:28 PM on August 30, 2010

a year and a half ago, i went through surgery and had to take a lot of piercings out. my surgery was probably about an hour. i don't know how long i was in recovery. my septum ring came out right before we went into the surgery center and went back in right after i got out of recovery. i had no problems with that. my ear cartilage piercings (daith, etc) were out for not even 24 hours and had to be tapered in, though.

i know that there's plenty of evidence that things will be ok. worst bet is that you have to have the ring tapered back in. however, if you are at all inclined, i would say get a retainer. it can even be as small as a straight labret retainer, i'd imagine. bodies do weird things, especially when under stress. i wouldn't risk it, personally.
posted by itsacover at 8:05 PM on August 30, 2010

You don't want any metal in there in case something happens and you need an MRI.

You don't want any metal in there because they'll be using electrocautery, mainly.

If your piercing was done properly (i.e., with a hollow needle or other similar method), I can't imagine you'll have any trouble for such a short period of time. It can't hurt to pop a low-profile retainer in, though. Your anesthesiologist will tell you if he needs it out before he knocks you out.
posted by moira at 8:31 PM on August 30, 2010

Fishing line.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:49 PM on August 30, 2010

You'll be fine... had mine out for over a year and a half and it only shrank less than 1 size (12g > 14g) so having it out for a day or less? Heck, you probably wouldn't have any issues even if it were out for a couple weeks or more.

(In contrast, I need to taper my tongue piercing back open after an hour, my lip after a day, and my cartilage after 3 or so days.)
posted by sary at 9:08 PM on August 30, 2010

There are plastic retainers as a matter of fact here is one.

If you want to leave it out (which is what I would do, if it were me) you more than likely will be fine, however, some people do have piercings, even older ones, that will shrink quickly. It depends on your skin elasticity and how your body heals. I'd make sure to have a taper with me to help get the jewelry back in, just in case.

If you have someone who is going to be with you there, teach them how to put the jewelry in. That way if you are out of it for longer than you think you will be, they can help you put it back in instead of you waiting until you are lucid and able to stay awake enough to do it.

Make a little kit, with your septum jewelry, a taper, some sort of lubricant (aqualube or something like that) to help you get the jewelry back in, just in case it does shrink more than you expect.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:37 AM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: Per hal c on's suggestion, I took my piercing out for two hours today and when I put it in, it was like I had never taken it out. It slid in nicely. So I'm going to leave it out for about three or four hours tonight and see what the results are. If that goes well then I think I'll leave it out all day at work tomorrow.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:54 PM on August 31, 2010

I took my septum ring out almost 4 years ago--had it for 3 years, 16 gauge I think--and I can still stick stuff through it (I figure if I can't have piercings at this job I can at least have fun by freaking out my coworkers with paperclips). My friend has had his out for probably 8 years and the same goes for him. So just based on the two of us, I was under the impression that they don't ever close up.
posted by a.steele at 5:33 PM on August 31, 2010

My 10-gauge retainer fell out three months ago when I was asleep, and I didn't find it until a week ago; it won't fit in easily anymore, but my old 12-gauge retainer not only went in fine, it's loose.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:06 PM on August 31, 2010

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