Cheek piercings have become popular recently but they are actually a lot more complicated to heal than normal piercings as there are a lot of different bodily structures in the area.
Problems and Issues
Tooth damage: Due to the way these piercings sit tooth damage is a big concern. They can cause chipped teeth or even gum and teeth erosion – permanent damage that cannot be fixed by a dentist.
How to help: The best way to help this is to get pierced with PTFE Labrets which are lighter, more flexible and have a flat back plate, helping to reduce tooth damage and problems.
Long healing time: Cheek piercings take a long time to heal. They can take between 1 and 3 years to fully heal and may need nursing on and off through this. A longer healing time often means a higher risk of complications such as bumps, scarring or infections.
How to help:
- Having a good piercer who can give you a good placement.
- Gentle non-invasive cleaning with saline soaks
- Regular downsizing of jewellery to reduce bar length.
- Not fiddling with the jewellery
- Taking a multivitamin to help support your body as it heals.
Swelling: Cheek piercings can remain swollen for a couple of weeks and even continue to swell on and off throughout the first few months of healing time.
How to help: Treat the swelling as soon as it appears and continue to do so until it is no longer visible using icy drinks, frozen foods, chamomile tea, arnica herbal supplements and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen (as long as you are medically able to).
Avoiding irritating the piercing with hot spicy food, make up, facial products or playing with the jewellery can also help.
Permanent Scarring: The scarring from cheek piercings is considered more severe than normal as they are likely to leave permanent dimples on your face. The longer healing times and type of tissue in the area also makes the piercing more prone to more obvious ‘regular’ scarring too such as deep red marks or bumpy white tissue.
How to help: Its important to consider, before getting pierced, how scarring on your face may effect you. Some scarring may be reduced by regular oil massages with an appropriate oil.
Cysts: Cheek piercings are prone to reoccurring cysts. These usually start with a hard marble sized lump underneath the skin and progress into raised, flaky, lumps on the face. These lumps are sacks of fluid which frequently pop and can easily become infected (More information on cysts can be found here).
How to help: There area few things you can to do help avoid cysts:
- First make sure the jewellery your piercer is about to use is long enough.
- Next make sure that your jewellery is downsized slowly to allow for swelling.
- Don’t have them placed past the first molar. This increases your risk of interrupting a saliva duct.
Leaking: Minor salivary ducts run very close to where this piercing is placed and can end up being pierced through or blocked. This can cause your body to redirect the flow of saliva out the piercing hole instead of into your mouth, meaning your piercing will leak liquid.
How to help: This isn’t a particularly common side-effect of cheek piercing but it can happen to some. The best way to avoid this problem is to not allow yourself to be pierced beyond the first molar where there are more ducts. If you notice the problem then you should remove the jewellery and allow the piercing to heal over.
There are alternatives to the cheek piercing and these come in the form of little implants or ‘anchors’ known as skin divers and microdermals which sit in a little pocket of skin rather than going all the way through so do not go deep enough to cause trouble inside the mouth.
However it is worth mentioning that they are not perfect can be prone to rejection (‘coming out’) due to movement in the area. However any scarring from them tends to be much smaller.
An example of Skin Diver cheek placement by Denise Wiltshire from Transfix Piercing.