Real Talk

10 Things You Need to Know About Cheek Piercings / “Dimples”

Kobi Jae of Horror Kitsch Bitch - 10 Things You Need to Know About Cheek Piercings - Advice about Dimple PiercingsI very often get comments and compliments about my cheek piercings – also known as “dimples”. I also get asked advice by people considering getting their own, and since I have SAH MUCH to say on the topic, I thought it best just to make a post that I can direct people to.

Hi, you inquisitive kitten!

Here’s the 411.

Since I am a firm believer in body autonomy and the right to creative expression via these skin envelopes we have surrounding our organs and soul, I would never want to dissuade someone from trying cheek piercings.

And let’s face it, that’s what piercings are… the chance to try something! If it doesn’t work out, you remove them and get a small scar to cherish the memory of your time together. Aww! <3

That being said, there are some realities about cheek piercings that really should be considered before taking the plunge. Here are some of the things I get asked (and some things I don’t get asked but that I really think you should know).

1. Do cheek piercings hurt?

My stock standard answer to this is: “they hurt like 2 needles in the face.” But really. I mean, there’s no cartilage in the cheek, it’s all flesh. So it hurts, but they’re actually not the most painful piercings i’ve ever had (surprisingly, the winner for me is the plain ol’ nostril… this includes my experience with nipples!).

They are, however, some of the biggest commitments and require an extended amount of aftercare.

2. THERE WILL BE BLOOD. And swelling.

Everyone who knows me can attest: I am a badass. (That’s an in-joke for anyone who knows me cos I get called ‘cute’ a lot and i’m like “DUDE I am the baddest bitch you’ll ever meet”). But I was admitedly not bad ass enough to handle getting these piercings a little under a week before Christmas Day. ROOKIE.

I thought I could handle it, but let me tell you: the swelling is real. Your face will be like a chipmunk, and eating will be difficult. When they’re fresh pierced, you will taste blood. But it shouldn’t last too long.

3. You will need long bars in for a good couple of months.

The first couple of months will be intense. Your body will be adjusting and working out what to do with these foreign rods of steel in your face. The piercer will have put in super long bars (probably an inch or so) and even though the swelling may subside after a week or two, they will want you to leave the long bars in for a couple of months, because you will be very sensitive to flare ups.

This means not only will you have not one but TWO new facial piercings, they’ll also be super prominent with very long bars protruding and making you feel like the balls actually enter the room a good couple of seconds before you do. Also – beware towels, clothes, small children, playful pets, general life etc…

Next year’s Halloween costume, done.

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4. You will need a good piercer.

Just about any piercer can do things like ear lobes and ear brows (although you should always go to a legit one… PLEASE CROSS YOUR HEART AND PROMISE TO NEVER GO TO ‘OFF YA TREE’ – NOT EVER, EVER, EVER), but you want an especially experienced and confident piercer for cheek piercings. Yes, they are more expensive than cheap chains like Off Ya Tree (foolish young Kobi learnt the hard way so that you don’t have to), but they should be! It’s the difference between a $10 and $100 haircut. Except (hopefully) more long-term.

Cheek piercings are complicated, so you will (probably) never be able to change them yourself – which will happen often as you step up and down through bar lengths based on how your body is responding. There are all sorts of long tapers and piercing wizardry required for bar changes. I go to the folks at The Piercing Urge in South Yarra, and they are the absolute tits.

Change down time is my favourite time! Love those kids #modlife

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5. Make sure you’re happy with the location before the needle strikes.

I’ve now had enough piercings (18 in total) to feel comfortable telling my piercer if I don’t like the spot they’ve marked before the actual piercing happens. But there have been times I didn’t, and the results were awful.

Honestly – SPEAK UP if you’re not happy. There are ways to do it that aren’t rude or offensive (if that’s what you’re worried about). More importantly, your piercer WANTS YOU to have input. They don’t want you to leave unhappy, talking shit about their skills or studio.

That being said:

6. Your cheek piercings will probably not be perfectly symmetrical.

This is because faces are almost never perfectly symmetrical. Deal with it. My piercer used all sorts of fancy rulers and a spirit level to mark mine out, and still they are not “perfect”.

Ok, please stop staring at my photos…

7. Your cheek piercings may never stop being sensitive.

As with any new piercings, you will need to keep these clean with PURE sea salt dissolved in warm water. Except mouth piercings are privy to a shitload of bacteria and the aggravation of being used as frequently as, well, YOUR MOUTH.

But even once they are all settled in (which will probably take the better part of a year, TBH) there is a huge chance they will still be volatile. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t experienced this.

For instance, if I wear heavy foundation for cosplay or photoshoots a couple of days in a row, you can bet your bottom dollar my cheeks will get a bit weepy and red if I’m not diligent with salt water cleansing.

I even recently had a super bad flare up (after almost FIVE YEARS of having mine) in which one of my piercings got so randomly swollen and infected that the whole bar and backing disappeared inside the tissue of my cheek. I had to get antibiotics and the bar changed back to a one inch. This isn’t fun, but it can totally happen. And worst of all, I can’t narrow down a single thing that may have provoked it. Just (un)luck of the draw!

Kobi Jae of Horror Kitsch Bitch - 10 Things You Need to Know About Cheek Piercings - Advice about Dimple Piercings

8. People will judge you.

I know, I know – fuck what people think! But i’m only telling you this so you can be prepared. People WILL think they know what you’re about because you choose to have such prominent (and multiple) facial piercings.

You may even have a hard time getting jobs.

I’m blessed that I work in an industry (graphic & web design – HIRE ME! *shameless plug*) where individuality is embraced. But that wasn’t always the case, and I do have to admit there was a time where I think my face furniture may have hindered my job-acquisition skills. Especially a few years ago! Although, I also think our culture is learning to accept body mods more as time goes on.

Strangers will think they have (even more) rights to give you their opinion on your body.

ANECDOTE TIME: I once had an older man in a lift give me a very memorable ‘complisult’. I greeted him as I entered and he said “wow, look at that turbo smile”. I smiled even bigger. He then followed it up with “I don’t understand why all you youngsters like to put that shit in your face”. Needless to say, I scowled the motherfucker almost to cinders.

You will also get people asking a lot of questions about them (feel free to steal my response to “do they hurt” – see point one) which is fine but sometimes draining if you’re already exhausted or PMSing or whatever.

9. As with any mouth piercings, cheek piercings may damage your teeth.

Depending on where your piercings sit inside your mouth, it’s possible to cause damage to your teeth over time. According to what I know (again, mostly from the folks at The Piercing Urge – can’t recommend them enough!), there are 3 types of backings you can have on the inside of cheek piercings; flat discs, balls, and “m&m discs” – which are a kind of halfway point between the first 2, resembling small m&m’s.

I have flat discs and only one of my piercings sits over my teeth (remember how faces aren’t symmetrical?!) but i’ve never been told my teeth have copped a flogging. Although my dentist does frown at all the face furniture I (especially used to) have.

10. Cheek piercings will scar.

If you leave these in for more than, say, a few months; you will end up with scars. I mean, you’re essentially damaging the muscle in your cheeks, so it’s pretty permanent. They will look like dimples, but they will also look like scars. Some people get their piercings with the sole intent of scarification. It’s a thing. Don’t be scared, just be prepared and make sure you’re ready for that.

Now go forth and pierce! Or ask me anything else you’d like to know 😉

Kobi Jae of Horror Kitsch Bitch - 10 Things You Need to Know About Cheek Piercings - Advice about Dimple Piercings 02

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  • Erica Ortega

    hi, I was wondering what size gauge you have in your lip, and if you can stretch your cheek piercing, so go like from a size 12 to 10? and lastly, can you do an article about the bridge piercing please? I would love to get one ,I am just not sure where to get it done. thanks, and have a great day you are so inspiring!

    • Hey Erica, i’m really not sure what gauge i’m at. I don’t tend to change my piercings, so it’s not fresh in my mind. As far as stretching goes, I do believe it’s possible but definitely best to discuss with your piercer. I actually only had my bridge pierced for less than a week – I got it done somewhere dodgy and it was crooked and drove me nuts, so I took it out! I guess that’s really the only thing I would have to say on the subject… make sure it’s straight!!

  • Hey Zayanna, I think you and your family are probably the only ones who can estimate if you’re “too young” to get them. They are a very big commitment so I suggest you talk it over with mature folks in your life. The rods that i’m referring to are the metal posts that go through your cheek from the inside of your mouth to the outside of your face (where the ball screws in). I hope that helps! 🙂

  • Jessika Young

    I’m having some problems with my left cheek piercing lately and not sure how to treat it.. I cannot get a hold of my piercer. Ive had them roughly 9 months. It looks like (excuse me for this gross detail) a piece of flesh is shoving its way out on the inside of my left side. Should I just sea salt more often? I can feel its annoyed. She didn’t have long enough internally threaded labret bars so she used a tongue bar and it was a half ball on the inside, externally threaded. just wondering if you’ve dealt with something like this and how to handle it.

    • Hey Jess, yeah i’ve had these before. I think they might be called keloids (google and see if that’s what it looks like). In my experience they do go away, but you do have to keep them clean (but don’t salt clean more than 2 or 3 times a day) and absolutely DO NOT TOUCH THEM. Like, make sure you’re not absent mindedly picking the scabs off or anything. The germs from your hands are the worst. Clean the scabby stuff off very gently in the morning when you’re cleaning it, but aside from that you’ve gotta let it scab and do it’s thing. HOWEVER, I feel VERY SUSPICIOUS of the externally threaded bar. I don’t think they should ever be used in cheek piercings (although i’m not an expert!!). Maybe go to another piercer, if you can? Good luck and I hope you can get it sorted!

      • David Hanscom-Flick

        Sounds like hypertrophic scarring. Definitely get some internally threaded labret studs. Not sure if you have a standard 5/8″ or what but probably go with 3/4″ or 7/8″ just to give them a few months to chill with DECENT jewelry. You can order them online sterile and have your piercer put them in 🙂

  • David Hanscom-Flick

    Hi, just randomly stumbled on this and figured I’d add my experience. I did mine almost 9 years ago in my bedroom of all places (with sterile forceps/needles, the whole deal yadda yadda) and while they’re my favorite piercings they took around 3 years to FULLY heal. I had to drain them weekly for the first 6 months or so which was either lancing or squeezing the massive pockets of fluid that would build up (I wish I’d recorded some of the volcanos that resulted from all the grossness). I started them with tygon tubing but I rather quickly learned they seriously hated it so I had to painfully switch to 1″ straight barbells with micro beads. I remember that clearly because I barely got the barbells transferred and went into panic mode using smaller gauge tapers to find the inside opening. It was hell having to constantly clean them and carry around supplies with me at all times Other than my retired handweb they were the most difficult piercings to get to heal. I’ve talked to people who have had no issues at all and seemingly heal within 6 months and others who like me had major problems and ended up removing them. Persistence paid off for me in the long run but when I’m asked my opinion in the matter and if I see they don’t have many piercings I tend to tell people to go for dermals (I have none but they’d probably be easier) instead or just skip them altogether. Even now if I eat too much sugar like a sucker or something they get sore and weepy for a day or 2 and the cold REALLY irritates them and the last thing is if I ever have a cold oddly they flare up and go all crusty. Awesome piercings to have but in my opinion a total coin toss on the final result 😀

    • Thanks for sharing!! You sound like a TOTAL BADASS, doing them in your bedroom! Wow what an experience. I agree they are a coin toss. Some people’s bodies are just like NOPE NOT FOR ME. haha

      • David Hanscom-Flick

        Not my wisest decision and more like DUMB ASS Haha but research and lots of preparation for months before I did them probably helped immensely. I’ve always done that with any piercing I do though. I’m just glad I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve talked to people who got them and their piercer never warned them about ANYTHING that can go wrong along with never going back to get the jewelry downsized. Those are the times I go Yikes… Not surprised a lot of places don’t do them any more.

  • Virginia

    Hi my name is Virginia and I actually just got mine done about four days ago. Yay! But the swelling on one side has turned bad enough that I can’t feel the ball on the back of my piercing and my husband says it looks white on the inside. What exactly should I do?? I really don’t want to have to take them out.

    • Hey Virginia, unfortunately i’m not an expert so I can’t really say what to do, but I definitely think you should go back to see your piercer or even to the doctor if it’s quite bad. Good luck! Kobi

  • Captain.kitty

    Hey! Just recently got mine done! Stumbled upon your page looking for some Answers to my question!!
    So here is goes!!
    I’m a foodie!! So obviously my question is, does it ever get easier to Chow down?? And what is the best type of jewelry for people that like to eat lol. I know I have to keep the longer ones in for a while. Only looking for suggestions to fuel my excitement in my new commitments!

    • Heya! Yay, condragulations!! New piercings are so much fun!! Well, the experience of seeing them is defs the funnest part 😉 Yes it definitely gets easier to get your chow on… I promise! But maybe not until you have your first bar size down, unfortch. Still, just the next stage of the process to be excited for – hehe. I’m not entirely sure the answer to your question about the best type of jewellery (you should defs ask your piercer that), but i’d say anything with a flat back would be best. Although, i’m not an expert! Good luck and enjoy your new babies!! If you hit a bump in the road in regards to flare ups, just go back to lightly sea salted warm water and persevere… chances are they will defs get better!! 🙂 x

  • Bobbielynn

    I am torn. I have set up an appointment to get my dimples done this coming Friday, however, all your points are valid. I am concerned about how my clients (and my fellow staff) will perceive the new piercings. I clean houses for a living, and I am judged the minute I walk into the door. The only visible facial piercing I have is my septum, which very few notice. I guess my biggest question is: how prominent is the swelling after getting pierced? Would it significantly go down within three days? I am so badly wanting this done, but I don’t think its worth losing my job over.

    • Hey Bobbielynn! Eeee how exciting! So, I totally get what you mean about being judged, and it’s especially hard when you have a job that requires people place a lot of trust in you (like being inside their house when they’re not there). All I can say is that I also used to be a house cleaner, and I don’t think it was ever a problem for me. I always make a point of being well-groomed (as much as possible, when you’re in cleaning clothes!) when I first meet clients, and being my genuinely warm and friendly self. But obviously I can’t be sure it never effected anything, as you won’t be able to until you try it.

      Swelling is different for each person, and they won’t be swollen immediately. I’d say the biggest period of swelling will probably begin a couple of days after the piercing – once the flesh stops being in shock. There are things you can do to minimise swelling (like icing, cold water, no irritant in your mouth or on your face), but there will be a period of time where your new piercings will be oozy and eventually crusty. That, i’m afraid, is completely unavoidable.

      I hope this hasn’t put you off, because I do think if you want to try something – you should. Just gather all the facts (as you’re obviously doing) and remember that they aren’t permanent. If it doesn’t work out for you, you can always take them out. It’s disappointing but a good option to keep in mind 😉

      Good luck! Kobi x

  • Sulfyr

    I’ve had 27 various piercings (Some that have been taken out, healed and got re-pierced) but these are ones I’ve always wanted but have had anxiety about. I don’t even know if I have the right face shape to pull it off and not look like a dweeb :’D

    ((To be honest: I found my nipples were the worst of all I’ve had done. Whereas probably my dermal was the coolest feeling because it was so different from the needle piercing 100% through. And getting two industrials at once was weird because I didn’t feel the last hole get done :’D))

    • Ha! I say FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT! Honestly, wear anything with confidence and the world won’t question you 😉

  • At one point I really thought I wanted this done, but I didn’t get them, and now I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve had a total of 7 piercings (I only have my ears and labret piercing left in) and I know I’m waaaaay too much of a wuss to have this done. So thanks for that! 😉 xx

    • Hehe my absolute pleasure! They are a serious commitment, and there’s nothing quite like getting 2 piercings at once… especially when they’re meant to “match”. Eeep! xx

  • Thank you for sharing this! Cheek piercings are my all time favourite piercings but after all the research I don’t think it’s something I could do. They look so amazing on you. Ugh, it frustrates me when people feel the need to negatively comment on piercings.

    • Right?! Just like, in this day and age are they really so shocking that you just HAVE to comment? Can’t help yourself? Ugh people are silly. But not you – you’re rads 😉 Thank you for the love! xx