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How Wounds Heal 101

Healing a Piercing 101

As soon as you receive an injury your immune system gets to work. Your body is naturally programmed to heal itself and even though piercings are voluntary and even intentional, they’re still wounds. Healing a piercing isn’t much different than most other wounds.
healing a piercing
While the bleeding we see when healing a piercing can range from a fair amount to little or nothing, we experience a tightening of the blood vessels that deliver blood to the site of the piercing. This will reduce or eliminate the amount of bleeding. When blood vessels are pierced they release special enzymes that attract platelets that clump together at the piercing site to help seal up the wound. This is the inflammatory phase. Also, certain proteins ban together to create a net like structure within minutes. This is a scab. When it comes to a piercing specific wound keep in mind that jewelry acts like a plug that helps minimize bleeding. If we pierced you and didn’t install jewelry you would see quite a bit more blood.
healing a piercing

After this first stage happens and the scab forms the constricted blood vessels have to relax so white blood cells can arrive and fight infection. These white blood cells are also bringing oxygen and nutrients vital to wound repair.

Any piercer who has taken the wound care class at the APP conference taught by Betsy Reynolds knows the term Fibroblast. These are kind of like blank cells that will become skin and other tissues. They will grow at the site of the piercing and produce collagen. This is called granulation and happens underneath the crusty/scabby location around your jewelry. This allows oxygen to get to the new tissue that will become skin. New Skin tissue will start growing around the jewelry and connecting to itself in about 2-3 weeks. This is the Epithelialization phase.While this new skin ideally looks and feels healthy, the truth is it’s still a scar that may take years to fade as more collagen grows. This new skin will only be about 80% as strong as your original non-pierced skin.

healing a piercing
Here are some basics you will probably consider common sense. More serious wounds heal slower. A larger piercing is a larger wound. Naturally we would see this as a slower healing time. However, placement and jewelry size will always be a factor. Rings for example will often slow a healing period. This is especially true with a thin, small ring. Thin wires don’t always do so well in the body. We call this the cheese grater effect. Thin rings often cut the tissue. Smoking and stress also slow our healing times. And sorry guys, the older you are, the slower these natural healing processes take place. And certain health conditions may also slow your healing. If you live with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or poor blood circulation you may struggle to heal your new piercing.
John Johnson
John Johnson is a professional body piercer at New Flower Studio in Long Beach, CA. He's also a Red Cross instructor and authorized OSHA trainer. He manages the online curriculum for the Association of Professional Piercers and is a member of ASTM International.