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Writing about body modification, Part V

Reasons for retiring a mod:

Your character just loses interest. Tastes tend to change throughout life, even in short timespans. Perhaps s/he starts liking different mods better, becomes more interested in tattoos, or just loses the former love of piercings.

Nipple piercings get in the way of breastfeeding. Constantly taking any mod in and out is very annoying, and leads to irritation. Many women decide to let it heal up until they’re in a position to wear jewelry in it at all times again.

Conservative workplaces and schools’ rules. It sucks, but many dress codes still forbid more than a certain number of mods, or certain types. Constantly switching between retainers to disguise the piercings and real jewelry also creates irritation, and people may decide to abandon a piercing till they’re in a position to have it properly.

Jewelry can fall out, esp. cheap jewelry. Some piercings, esp. new ones, heal up really fast, even in less than 24 hours. Even long-established piercings can quickly heal over if devoid of jewelry holding the fistula open.

Related to the above, having to remove jewelry for surgery or major medical procedures. I was lucky enough to get permission to keep my nostril piercing in during all six of my surgeries with anesthesia (out of seven surgeries total), provided I covered it with medical tape. Others aren’t so lucky. Some people go through the hassle of removing piercings only to have the surgery date changed or cancelled.

Some people feel they’re “supposed to” naturally “outgrow” piercings by a certain age or stage in life. That choice should be respected, as much as it pains me to see people giving credence to outdated stereotypes instead of providing a robust counter-image of proudly modified parents and people in their thirties and above. It’s the same way many people seem to be operating from a checklist like “Ooh, I’ve had kids, gotta buy an SUV and move to a housing development in suburbia!”

Rejection! My navel piercing was doing so well, and my very honest piercer said I had an anatomically perfect navel to pierce because it had the right kind of flesh “shelf” to hold it up. But then I began gaining a lot of weight rather quickly, and I noticed a red bump that wouldn’t go away.

For a long time, I was in denial, and finally, on Duran Duran Appreciation Day 2016, I let myself realize it was in an advanced stage of rejection, barely hanging on. Letting it continue to reject and break through the skin would’ve made it so much worse. Since I’m so superstitious about auspicious and inauspicious dates and numbers, I waited till the holiday was over, and removed the jewelry about 1 AM on 11 August.

Since I’ve lost almost 70 pounds and am back down to 150 pounds, my navel can be repierced as soon as I move back to an area with an APP piercer. Scar tissue from previous navel piercings is also said to serve as an anchor holding the new piercing in place better. Since navels are such long, slow healers, it’s recommended to get them done in autumn and winter, before swimming season.

Piercings can be ripped out of the body if they get caught on something, or in violent accidents or attacks.

People who work out a lot or play certain sports can lose certain piercings from physical stress on the body. E.g., a scuba mask constantly rubbing against an eyebrow piercing, movement on exercise and weight machines pulling against a navel or nipple piercing.

Potential issues, complications, and things to consider during the healing process or afterwards:

The gold standard for aftercare used to be warm, non-iodized sea salt soaks, but now many APP piercers sell and recommend saline spray. Salt soaks are one and the same as saline spray, only more time-consuming. A warm salt soak feels great for an irritated, angry piercing, but if everything’s normal, it’s better to spray the piercing or soak a cotton ball with saline and hold it against the piercing. When my rook and conch were healing, I used saline cotton balls overnight.

Infections can occur if piercings aren’t regularly, properly cleaned. When in doubt, your character should see a doctor. Removing an infected piercing causes the infection to be trapped inside the body, and can be life-threatening.

Improperly stretching ears creates blowouts and split lobes, which can only be repaired by a doctor or extreme mod artist.

Swimming should be avoided for 4-6 weeks after a piercing, unless one wears a waterproof bandage. I was in the pool soon after my rook piercing, but I rinsed it before and after, and felt it was fairly safe since it’s tucked away inside the top of the ear. I almost never got chlorine water on it.

Sex should obviously be avoided while genital piercings are healing!

Piercings can get bumped and caught a lot more than one might think. Even clothes can rub against them uncomfortably or pull them out. Ear piercings shouldn’t be slept on while they’re healing. Hair should be pinned or pulled out of the face to avoid wrapping around jewelry and giving a painful tug.


Writer of historical fiction sagas and series, with elements of women's fiction, romance, and Bildungsroman. Born in the wrong generation on several fronts.

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