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Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  How do I prepare for a piercing?

A.  Appointments are strongly advised so you will not have a long wait. If you have any health issues that might impact your ability to heal please consult your doctor before you get a piercing. Eat about an hour before your appointment, and by all means no alcohol or mind-altering drugs. Some people like to make an occasion of their piercing so feel free to bring a friend to witness the event, do a special meditation, or wear something special.

Q.  Does it hurt to get pierced?

A.   Yes, but for less then a second, and significantly less then most people anticipate. We are often told "that did not hurt nearly as much as I thought it would." We are constantly refining our techniques to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

Q.  Can you numb the area to be pierced?

A.   For a lot of reasons, the answer is NO. For one, only licensed medical professionals can legally administer injectable anesthetics. For another, when performed by a skilled, professional piercer, the actual piercing is quicker and considerably less painful then the injection would be. An injection also distorts the tissue, which can result in a crooked or misshapen piercing. Topical anesthetics cannot penetrate deeply enough to provide any significant numbing.

Q.  Do you use a piercing gun?

A.   A professional piercer would never use an ear-piercing gun, even on an ear lobe. There are many reasons for this, the primary one being that guns cannot be adequately sterilized between uses. Additionally, the jewelry design is inappropriate, even for lobes, as the post is too short to allow for swelling and proper cleaning and the backing traps the infectious matter close to the piercing. While many people imagine that being pierced by a gun would hurt less then being pierced by a needle, this is not so. With a gun, the piercing is accomplished by forcing a blunt stud through the tissue, a considerably harsher method then a professionally performed piercing.

Q.  Are the piercing needles used only on one person?

A.  We absolutely never use a needle on more then one person. However, one needle may be used for more then one piercing on the same person in the same session. At Gothic needles are sterilized in an autoclave in specially designed packaging prior to use and disposed of safely after use.

Q.  Will it hurt after it is healed?

A.  The tenderness present with a new piercing usually diminishes rapidly during the healing period. Healed piercing often brings a great deal of physical pleasure in addition to the aesthetic appeal.

Q.  How long does it take to heal?

A.  Healing times vary from piercing to piercing and person to person and can be affected by the aftercare the piercing receives. Touching a healing piercing with dirty hands, contact with body fluids, rough treatment, and use of cleaning agents which are inappropriate or to which one is sensitive can cause problems and significantly lengthen healing time. Following our aftercare instructions will minimize the healing time and risk of problems.

Q.   What are the chances of getting an infection?

A.   If you are pierced at Gothic, and follow our aftercare instructions faithfully, the chances of an infection are virtually nonexistent. We take extreme care to assure that all piercings are performed in an appropriately clean environment using sterile equipment. After that, it is up to you. We will never discourage you from consulting your physician if you believe you have an infection, and if you are not comfortable going to your usual doctor, we can often give you names of "piercing friendly" doctors. There are however, many conditions that are not infections, and may be mistaken as such. They include reaction to the metal or, more commonly, to the cleaning agents you are using. If you want, we are happy to consult with you and suggest possible approaches based on our experience as professional piercers. The percentage of people who get infections in our piercings is extremely small, and these are usually the result of inappropriate aftercare practices.

Q.   What about swimming pools and hot tubs?

A.  Pools, hot tubs, and natural bodies of water are teeming with potentially harmful organisms. For the first month of healing, the cell walls inside the piercing are simply not strong enough to defend your body against an invader. A product called Tegaderm, a waterproof bandage available at pharmacies, will provide a measure of protection, if you simply must go swimming in the first month of your healing period. Schedule one of your two daily piercing cleanings for immediately after being in the water. Try to avoid chlorinated pools and hot tubs if your jewelry is gold or the chemical can cause it to break or shatter.

Q.   How will exercise and sweat affect a new piercing?

A.     For most people this does not cause problems. Riding a bicycle should be avoided with a Guiche or Fourchette piercing as pressure and rubbing against any healing piercing causes irritation. While your own urine and sweat are technically sterile to your own body, it is a good idea to clean the piercing after you workout. Wearing clean absorbent clothing with a minimum of dyes can be helpful.

Q.   Can I lose sensation in the pierced area?

A.   For most people, a piercing increases sensation. That is one of the main reasons people get pierced, to heighten the stimulation of a particular body part. The number of people who have reported no change or a loss of sensation is actually very small.

Q.   What size jewelry is standard?

A.   Usually it is a matter of individual custom fit. Some piercings do have "standard" sizes which work for most people, and often there is a minimum size. The look is only part of what makes a piercing work for you. It must function properly as well. Jewelry that is not the right size can cause healing problems.

Q.   Why can’t I have a smaller ring?

A.   Sometimes, what you imagine would look best will not work best. Your preferences in look and play aside, the size needs to be tailored to your body’s individual structure, and most importantly, what will be the most comfortable and promote care-free healing.

Q.   When can I take the jewelry out and not lose the hole?

A.  There are two stages to healing. The initial stage seals the piercing and thus reduces the chances of infection dramatically. The second stage is longer and is the time it takes for the piercing to "toughen up and season." During and after the latter sage jewelry can be removed for varying lengths of time. The piercing will begin to shrink as soon as you remove the jewelry. How long it takes to shrink to a degree that you cannot reinsert the jewelry varies. Never force jewelry into a piercing which has shrunk. Obtain an insertion taper, or stop by have us reinsert the jewelry for you.

Q.   What metals are safe for piercing jewelry?

A.   316 LVM surgical implant stainless steel, solid gold of either 14 or 18 karat, Niobium, or titanium work well for the vast majority of people. Platinum and some other exotic metals also work well. Metals to avoid include silver, gold plated or gold filled, brass, bronze, and copper. The initial "savings" on a cheaper ring is quickly forgotten when infections and reactions to poorly made jewelry necessitate expenses.

Q.   Will I set off a metal detector?

A.   Probably not unless you have a large concentration of piercings in one area of your body, or if your piercing jewelry is of a very thick nature.

Q.   Do navel piercings usually grow out?

A.   Of the more usual piercings, navels have a bit greater tendency to grow out then average. Placement has a lot to do with success, so you can increase your chances by having the piercing done by a skilled professional. Be sure to follow proper aftercare and minimize as much as possible the irritation caused by clothing which is tight or restrictive and/or which has belts and waistbands.

Q.   How many piercings can I get done in one session?

A.   Three piercings in one appointment is not uncommon. Having many more than three can be a bit to stressful for your body to cope with and can prolong your healing time.

Q.   What about the more unusual piercings or techniques?

A.   As piercing becomes more and more common, some piercers are seeking to distinguish themselves by offering "new" piercings, or using "new" techniques. While a very small number of these may indeed be legitimate advancements in the art of piercing, the vast majority of such offerings are inappropriate, unsuccessful, dangerous, or possibly even fatal. When considering any piercing or technique which falls outside of the range of the common or traditional, both the piercer and the piercee should carefully consider the risks and possible consequences of their decision, and when in doubt, stick to the tried and true.

Q.   Besides Gothic where can I get professionally pierced?

A.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people cashing in on the popularity of body piercing. These typically range from street corner kids with a dirty needle and flea market hucksters with an ear piercing gun to a handful of conscientious people with limited knowledge, skill, and experience. Don’t let your passion for piercing prevent you from doing careful research. Ask as many questions as you can, and be sure to get a guided tour of the piercing room (which should not be used for anything but piercing) and the sterilization area. If you can, speak to several of their customers, and try to see some of their work. Shopping for a good piercer is like looking for a good tattoo artist or hair stylist. A piercer flaunting a fancy title on card, or claiming to be "certified" should be held up for scrutiny, as there is currently no certification process for piercers.

Q.   How does nipple piercing affect breast feeding a baby?

A.   Since the nipple secretes milk through a system of hundreds of ducts, which are not blocked by a nipple piercing, a healed piercing should not interfere. A piercing in the process of healing would be problematic. We strongly suggest that the mother remove her jewelry while feeding her baby.

Q.   What about sex and genital piercings?

A.   Any one’s body fluids, other then possibly your own, can be a sure-fire source of infection. Consequently, condoms or dental dams should always be used for sexual activity while a genital piercing is healing. Also, don’t get too rough with it. Genital piercings are intended to enhance sex, not interfere, so be sure the jewelry you select is one of the right size and design so it will not get in your way. We are always happy to make suggestions based on our experience.