Why Doesn’t My New Piercing Look Exactly Like I Thought?

Piercing question

Have you ever been browsing Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or any other social media platform and seen the perfect piercing? Maybe there’s a friend of yours that has a body mod that you can’t help but be envious of. There are hundreds of ways to discover new body piercings! No matter how you scope out a new piercing, one thing is for certain. Body mods are becoming more and more accepted in our modern society.

You’ve got a picture in mind, right? Your favorite celeb rocking a beautiful nose ring; an influencer or model showing off her new jewelry on Pinterest? This can be an amazing way to do research on what you want, so much so that you might find yourself on the way to the piercing shop, ready to get a new modification of your own.

You wake up the next day and your septum ring seems a little cockeyed. Maybe your nose ring seems a bit less centered than you thought it was yesterday. What gives?! Why doesn’t your piercing look exactly like the picture you had in your mind?

Healing septum

You’re Still Healing

The picture you saw online was probably a fully-healed piercing that has had time to heal and settle. It’s probably even studded with some high-quality jewelry. The photo may have even been edited a little bit! Through the first few days/weeks of healing, keep in mind that your freshly pierced body is probably just reacting to the injury.

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Remember, piercings are literally open wounds. The piercer is going to take a needle and push it through your body. Even though piercing needles are sharp and meant to glide through the human body with ease, it still causes a bit of trauma to your body.

Just like any wound, your body is going to react by rushing blood to the area to flood it with injury-healing oxygen and white blood cells. You might experience this “rush” as a bit of swelling, and swelling is the #1 cause of crooked-looking piercings, at least when they are new.

Beyond a bit of swelling, your piercing might have some other aesthetic issues. You may experience a bit of bleeding, drainage or both, and it might coagulate/harden up looking like “crusties,” a clear-ish/yellowish buildup around the piercing site. You may even experience a “piercing bump” (also known as hypertrophic scarring), which is a soft, pink, fluid-filled bump that should eventually go away with enough gentle aftercare. This is all totally normal, but its important to keep your piercing site clean and moist – we recommend a gentle salt soak, once a day.

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Last but not least, every person’s body is different. Every person’s experience at the piercing shop is different. Every piercer’s piercing style is just a little bit different. There’s no catch-all answer for why your piercing looks the way it does. But give your body a chance to heal up before you jump to any conclusions.

Pierced Septum

Disclaimer: if your piercing is angry and red, extra swollen, hurts excessively, has a strange smell, or is oozing green/yellow/colored discharge, you may have an issue. It’s time to re-visit your professional piercer or a medical professional ASAP!

How Long Until My Piercing Looks Normal?

Speaking in broad strokes – most piercings take at least six (6) months to be fully healed, and many take a complete year before they’re totally settled in. Ear cartilage piercings tend to take the longest to fully heal, whereas oral piercings like the tongue may only take a few months. Again, since every body is different, you may or may not experience similar healing times. But the point remains the same. Be patient with your new mod until it has healed!

Your piercing may have been fitted with an extra-long piece of jewelry – in the case of oral piercings (lip, tongue, etc.), this added length is built in to ensure that your mouth has room to swell. Otherwise your jewelry may press into your swollen body part – ouch! Keep in mind this extra length/diameter is only temporary, and you’ll be able to swap out in a few months.

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You can’t force your body to heal faster. But you can take extra good care of it while it is healing. This added attention to aftercare is what will help your body heal up as quickly and efficiently as possible. Make sure you don’t apply any unnecessary stress to your healing piercing (pressure from clothes, sleeping on it, bumps or snags, etc.). Always practice good general hygiene and keep any beauty products off of your healing mod. Finally, resist the urge to change your jewelry out before your body is ready. You don’t want to re-injure your piercing!


What if My Piercing is Healed But It’s Still Crooked?

There’s only one answer here – it’s time to visit a professional piercer. You should leave whether you’ll need to be re-pierced up to them. But they are the individuals best qualified to give out that sort of advice! If you feel uncomfortable re-visiting the piercer that initially performed the piercing, look for an APP-certified piercer in your area.