I should start by saying that I’ve wanted a piercing since late high school, either an eyebrow piercing or a tongue stud1.
For some reason though, I never seriously considered it. To me, it was like having children; one of those things you know you’d want some day, but don’t take it seriously. Then last week, I was sitting at my desk and randomly thought, “Why not?”. So I slept on it, and woke up the next day still wanting one. That’s when I decided to do it.
My biggest concern was that it wouldn’t match me. Some people with piercings look like they’re trying to overcompensate by being part of a “scene”, or by being younger (i.e. the midlife crisis, which my dad seems to be living out with three piercings last year), or it just doesn’t fit their face. The last thing I wanted to do was get something that screamed attention for the sake of it. Most people have told me that I’m a far cry from mid-life crisis age, but I’ve feeling much older lately.
So I figured that I’d rather get it at this age, than when I’m in my fifties like my dad, when it looks ridiculous. But as Tiana reminded me, it’s much less permanent than a tattoo. If I don’t like it, I can just take the piercing out with minimal scarring (as long as there are no other complications).
So I decided to get a horizontal, because I find that verticals are not really my style (and altogether too common for my tastes). The side seemed somewhat arbitrary to me, and I didn’t decide which side until I did my hair one morning and noticed that the part on my hair was on the right, and so it seemed like there was a more open space there for the piercing to fit.
I wanted someone to go with me, as I knew I’d feel very uncomfortable and alone walking into the studio (it’s just not my scene), but realized that it was something I had to do for and by myself. It was at a time when I was inconsiderately ditched, and feeling like I couldn’t depend on anyone, so my resolve was partially fueled by anger and stoic resentment.
Planet Ink is beautiful. It’s big and open and bright, there are two plain black couches, some generic flash on the walls, and everything happens in the back rooms. It’s sterile, modern, and private.
I went to the studio on Saturday to make an initial consultation with an artist. I walked up to the counter, told the person what I wanted to get, and he told me to fill out a form. Then he went to ask the artist how much it was going to be, and told me $65 when he came back. So I paid him, thinking there was nothing peculiar about paying upfront, or making a deposit. Then soon after, an artist named Juliette came up to me, and told me to follow her in the back.
I was thinking I’d be able to cancel if I changed my mind during the month of waiting for the appointment — that’s about how long it took for me after I booked my tattoo appointments — but nope, I thought to myself, “WOAH, this is going to happen RIGHT NOW”. I decided to roll with it, which turned out to be a good thing, cause I didn’t want to think about it took much and psych myself out, or change my mind. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to sleep from the excitement.
So this was pretty much as close to an impulse decision as I ever get.
Juliette first started to massage my skin to feel where a good location would be, and to find certain muscles she wanted to avoid. Then she took some kind of extra-fine tipped carbon pen and put two dots above my eyebrow. It was too close to the centre, so I told her to adjust it back.
When we got the location right, she had me lie down, and put a clamp on the area. Then she told me to inhale deeply, then exhale deeply, and on the exhale she put the needle through. I really didn’t know what to expect of the pain, but the sensation was similar to getting my blood taken, which is nothing really.
Before putting in the curved barbell, she warned me that there’d be a shift in pressure, then put the jewelery in. I inquired about a surface bar, but she said that in her 10+ years of experience the curved barbells have a better acceptance rate.
I walked out in less than 20 minutes. It was easier than buying a pair of glasses.
There’s been no leakage, no swelling, no problems aside from some slight tenderness in when I pressing too hard by mistake when washing or drying my face.
I’ve had to adjust a few things. The healing period is 6–8 weeks, so I have to sleep on one side, which is not easy because I toss and turn, and like to adjust when I get tired of one side. I did a long photoshoot over the weekend, and I squint my right eye to look into the viewfinder with my left, and felt a bit of irritation because of how much pressure I was putting on the surrounding area.
It’s a lot more noticeable than I expected. Unlike my tattoos, which are usually hidden under my sleeves and face inside, this is right on my face. Pretty much everyone who knows me has noticed without me mentioning anything. Maybe it’s the change more than anything, like if I had stopped wearing glasses one day.
I know that surface piercings are one of the hardest to heal, and I’ve accepted the fact that it may reject soon enough. But I figure that I might as well try it, and have it for a while at least, instead of regretting that I never got one when I’m too old.
In addition to missing a week of Tai Chi classes, I have to be more careful when sparring now. With the appropriate babying, I hope to have it healed well enough that it won’t get ripped or start rejecting with a direct hit to the area.
There may be some complications such as keyloids, which Asian people are more susceptible to when getting pierced, but my dad got three earrings last year without a problem, so I’m hoping I received that gene.
I’m still getting used to the idea that I have jewelery on my face. I may consider putting in discs, which I wanted at first, but apparently they’re not a good as starting jewelery because they cut off oxygen to the area that needs to heal. I like the balls right now. I think they’re more subtle than discs, but not like I’m embarrassed and trying to hide them.
It’s been over a week, and I’m still very happy with it.
Update — August 2010
The piercing must be fully healed now, because there’s no tenderness at all when I touch it. I’ve even snagged it on a shirt once (I tend to forget about it now), but I couldn’t see any damage or feel any pain. I’d say it took about six months.
I got an infection once, I suspect from some stress I was going through at the time cause it took forever to clear up. It made the skin recede so a bit of the bar shows, which sort of bugs me. I don’t think it’s noticeable from a distance though.
Some more photos. I’m still really happy with it.
- My work in the dental industry, however, has made me shy away from getting anything in the mouth, so that eliminated the only other option for me. [↩]