I 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…
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.
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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!
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!
UPDATE: This post is very popular and I have been inundated with questions & people asking for advice. I’m no longer able to field questions or respond to comments below. As i’ve said, i’m not a professional, this is just an opinion piece. It’s always best to consult your piercer or a medical professional if you’re worried about your piercings or have further questions about them.