Pros and cons of a septum piercing
July 5, 2007 6:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about getting my septum pierced, and I'm wondering if people have any positive or negative experiences with the process of the piercing itself.

I've been thinking about getting my septum pierced for a long time, but I have a few issues that I need resolved first.

Facial piercings are allowed at my job, and it would be really small anyway, so people's perceptions of me aren't an issue at all.

I'm mostly concerned about two things: the pain and the healing.

I know it's going to hurt, but just *how* bad? I've gotten tattoos before, but this just seems so much more intense. Does it make a noise? I'm imagining a terrible crunching sound. And does it bleed a lot? I can handle the pain and the blood, I just want to be prepared.

And is the healing problematic? I have slight allergies, and it seems like any nose blowing or anything like that could really affect the healing process. Any advice on how to best take care of it? I know the piercer will have suggestions as well, but I really want as many opinions as I can get.

One final question: Can anyone recommend a good piercer in Austin? I haven't lived here that long, and it seems like something like this shouldn't be left to the yellow pages.
posted by a red so deep to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

mine barely hurt. if you've ever plucked a nose hair, it hurts about that much until the adrenaline kicks in.

healing went fairly quick. q-tips and warm salt water will be your new friends. mine healed a bit crooked since it was swollen and i had kept my retainer flipped up.

out of the range of common piercings, septums are among the easiest to take and heal.
posted by gnutron at 7:14 PM on July 5, 2007

The piercing shouldn't hurt that much (unless you go to an unexperienced piercer). Your eyes will definitely water up since your sinuses get pinched during the piercing process but that's about it. There was no crunching sound, and I seriously remember the whole thing taking like less than a few minutes.

My experience with the healing was something like this:

The first week it was pretty sore and would occasionally bleed a little when I'd rub my nose (for instance, when I was washing my face). You say you have problems with allergies, I would have to say nose blowing during the first few weeks might be a tad uncomfortable.

The next week it was still a little sore but stopped the occasional bleeding. After the third week I was finally able to rotate the horseshoe ring outward (I had it pulled backwards into my nostrils after I got it pierced so it could heal in an inconspicuous manner).

If you ever have the need to hide your piercing, I would recommend a matte black retainer (I wear this kind) because people will give you disgusted ugh... is that a booger?? looks when you wear stainless steel retainers or flipped horseshoes. Trust me.

As for a piercer (I don't live in your area, BUT) a reputable tattoo shop that offers piercings would be your best bet for a good job.
posted by zippity at 7:17 PM on July 5, 2007

I have had mine done twice. The first time, the piercer screwed up, misaligned. He started in the right spot, but angled down, and the piercing ended up coming out of the skin at the bottom of my septum. It hurt, but not any more than any of the other holes I've gotten. The pain is so quick, it's not really a big deal. You will most likely tear up; almost everyone does due to nerve concentrations being stimulated near your eyes. I don't think mine made a noise, at least not like my cartiledge did when I got that pierced. I went with a small gauge the second time around (sixteen instead of fourteen), which helped only a little.

My septum has now been stretched up to zero gauge. I have seasonal allergies, and every time I stretch it (and when it was initally healing) I had a runny nose nearly constantly. It ached a lot after the piercing/stretching, but it wasn't really that annoying until I would scrunch up my nose or if someone hit it accidentally. I took sudafed and used nasal sprays to keep the snot at bay, but it was fighting a losing battle. Blowing my nose was hell for the first few weeks. After a while, you adjust to pinching your nostrils differently. At this point, since my piercing is old and stretched, it sometimes flies out into the tissue, which is somewhat embarrassing.

As for a piercer, I have no specific recommendations, but you might just wander into a few shops and check them out. You'll want to look for cleanliness, good attitude, and perhaps a portfolio of the piercer's work. Be prepared to spend more at a good shop, but it is worth it.

For more info, go to BMEzine and check out the QOD at the bottom left-hand corner, and perhaps read some septum experiences in the piercing section.

Good luck, and my email's in the profile if you have any other questions.
posted by nursegracer at 7:18 PM on July 5, 2007

Since you mention the "crunch," I just wanted to point out that usually a septum piercing is not made through the cartilage, but rather through a thin spot in the septum that's basically just 2 layers of skin. If you take your thumb and forefinger and pinch your septum you should be able to feel the spot. That's why it doesn't actually hurt that much, unless that spot is too small or the piercer screws up and goes through the cartilage. I've never had it pierced myself, but most of the people I know who have say that it was the least painful of their experiences.
posted by cabingirl at 7:50 PM on July 5, 2007

Mine took a while to heal, but I got a cold a few days after the piercing! D'oh.

Nthing the "experienced piercer" and not wearing it flipped up until it's healed. I did that, and it put stress on the piercing and made it heal slightly wonky.

It's definitely my favourite piercing though... good luck!
posted by indienial at 9:14 PM on July 5, 2007

It hurts intensely, but not for long! Then you get a wonderful head rush from the adrenaline, and eventually your eyes quit watering. There's no crunching sound, just a sudden stinging sensation. It doesn't bleed much at all; I don't actually remember any blood, in fact, although there was a bit of bloody crust around the edges of the piercing for the first few days while it healed.

Like you, I have crazy allergies, and they didn't seem to affect the healing it all. The healing only seemed to take about a week. with no problems. I've had my piercing for about nine years; a few times it's gotten sort of sore and gross, and I simply take the retainer out for a few days and keep it clean, which does the trick.

Of all the piercings I've had, this was the easiest, and is the only one I have kept.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:39 PM on July 5, 2007

I didn't even feel mine being pierced. The spot cabingirl mentions was called the "sweet spot" by my piercer. I felt something sliding through my nose, but no pain or pinching whatsoever. This is why it's soooo important to find a piercer who knows what they are doing. A septum piercing is usually considered the least painful facial piercing, but only if it's done right.

Healing was easy, and it was completely healed within a few months, even during cold season. It's fallen out a few times when I've been blowing my nose extra forcefully, but I have o-rings on both sides now so it's only come out accidentally once in the last year. If you get something with balls on the ends or a cbr, it won't be a problem at all.
posted by evilbeck at 11:38 PM on July 5, 2007

Got mine done twice (first time, I rubbed my nose the morning after, managed to displace the retainer, couldn't get it back in, I couldn't get to my piercer. Grr). It hurt, but not horribly - it's more pressure than anything, and the odd sensation of someone pulling your nose. A tiny bit of bleeding that was easily dabbed away. My eyes watered quite badly and stung a bit, but that was the worst of it. I did sneeze a lot for the rest of the day though, as your nasal lining inflames in response. Healing was fine - sea salt soaks as everyone else here has said, only handle it with clean hands, etc. I think it took about six weeks to heal fully - less than my (needle-pierced) earlobes took. Not surprising since unless you have a non-viable "sweet spot" or an incompetent piercer, it's only going through about a millimetre of skin.

I don't think it matters too much whether you have the retainer up or down (although up is going to reduce any knocks it might get), as long as you don't move it too much and irritate it, thereby increasing healing times. Decide whether you want it up or down and keep it there. I wore a silver-coloured titanium retainer and honestly, you'd have to be looking right up my nose in order to see it when it was flipped up, and even then it was barely visible. Your mileage may vary, of course, depending on how flared your nostrils are :)

Honestly, just go for it. It's a ridiculously easy piercing, and if you feel like hiding it, you can very easily. Find a few piercers in your area beforehand and talk to them about their experience, hygiene standards in the shop, etc - any decent piercer is going to be pleased you're taking the time to check them out, rather than just wandering into any old place and handing over your money.
posted by terrynutkins at 2:59 AM on July 6, 2007

the two rules of healing a piercing:

1. stop fucking touching it.
2. keep it clean.

if it gets infected (and you'll know, oh yes -- you'll know -- I had my septum pierced and it got infected, and I pulled it out in my sleep two weeks later after having a particularly vexing dream about a staple stuck in my nose) then you might try a salt water soak. Heat up some sea salt and water in a bowl, dip a clean paper towel in the solution, and press it to your piercing while it is as hot as you can bear. Don't be surprised to see all sorts of nasty stuff come out. Repeat.

Does it hurt? Well, it's unpleasant -- but it's *extremely* brief, and basically just feels like someone pinching your nose really really hard.

On finding a shop: personally, I tend to prefer piercing only shops over tattoo/piercing shops, where the piercer seems to often be an afterthought. I would also tend to prefer a piercer who'd bothered to license with the APA, although that doesn't necessary guarantee quality (personally, I always thought of the APA as a 'merchants assocation' more than anything else, but I took out all my piercings 7 years ago, so I haven't really been paying attention). There is an APA search here, and it looks like they have at least one piercing shop in Austin. I would personally ignore the big "OMG MAKE SURE THEY'RE APA" message at the top of the screen there -- i'd make sure they weren't an apprentice, but I wouldn't worry about each individual's licensing as long as the shop seems legitimate.
posted by fishfucker at 8:49 AM on July 6, 2007

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