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If you’ve been pierced at Rogue (or any other quality studio) you’ll often be told to come back in for a check-up and a downsize. But what is a downsize, and why is it so important?

Downsizing is shortening the length of your jewellery to make a nice snug and comfortable fit to your body. When we pierce you we always start with bigger jewellery, either longer in length or bigger in diameter. this is because during the first stage of healing, the piercing site will swell as a normal reaction to the wound we have created. We need to accommodate for this swell, thus meaning bigger/longer jewellery. (If you are interested in why we swell and the phases of healing check out this blog post.)

A fresh mid-helix piercing with ample room for swelling.

Why don’t we pierce with the short bar? Again it cycles back to the swelling. Without adequate room for the swelling, it can quickly become a problem. Often if there’s no room, the body will start to swell over the jewellery, which can cause it to be embedded or lost. This can quite often be very sore and painful. Depending on the severity of the swelling, we can pull the jewellery and replace it with a bigger pierce, or in very rare/severe circumstances we may have to refer you to urgent care.

A triple flat piercing embedded.
The middle pierce of jewellery is starting to be ‘swallowed’.

How do we downsize? Downsizing is fairly easy. We don’t cut the jewellery down, and we don’t replace the entire piece. We just replace the wearable with something much comfier. For example: take a helix piercing, the swelling has come down and now it’s starting to move freely. We simply just remove the decorative end, take out the labret, fit a smaller labret, and put the end back on. Abracadabra its just that easy! For piercings with rings (such as a daith) we will simply just replace the ring for one with a smaller diameter!

When should I downsize? This varies for each piercing, but ultimately your piercer should let you know. However, for most oral piercings it will be between 7-14 days. Cartilage and other piercings (such as navels/nipples/eyebrows etc) it will be around 4-6 weeks. Intimate piercings can be either, depending on location!

How do I know if I’m ready to downsize? Typically the jewellery will start to feel and look longer. You may notice that it also starts to move around more freely by itself. Sometimes you may see that the jewellery is sticking up and out, or that it is getting caught more easily on clothes/hair/glasses. The best way to tell is definitely to pop in for a visit with your piercer! They’ll be able to assess it from all angles and swap that bar over for you.

Plenty of space = Downsize to smaller bar!

What happens if I don’t downsize? Now it’s not going to be the end of the world if you do not downsize your jewellery, and your ear or nose won’t fall off! However, once the swelling subsides and the fistula is less tight, the jewellery may start moving up and down or back and forth. This can cause irritation to a sensitive and healing channel, which may lead to irritation bumps and higher chances of knocks and snags. Over time, this can even create migration and rejection as well as wonky angles. Depending on the severity of the damage, this may result in you having to retire the piercing.

For oral piercings, such as tongues or labrets, you can cause serious teeth and gum damage with excess length in jewellery.

How many downsizes will I need? Well this depends on quite a few factors. For example, which piercing is it? Cheek piercings require multiple downsizes due to the rapid swell of the area, and how slow it returns back to normal. If you tend to be a ‘sweller’ you may require 2 downsizes for piercings such as a nose or helix, as you may need a ‘half-way’ size. Gaining or losing weight may also mean you might need to shorten or lengthen the jewellery, Certain medications, being ill, being in warmer climates can all effect how the piercing heals, swells, and settles, so it is never a definitive answer.

Sometimes you may not even need a downsize. Some piercings just don’t need it. For example, microdermals! Rook and daith piercings are definitely a choice, the aesthetic of these is often the longer curved bar, or the larger ring to show off decoration. Other piercings can be variable, such as nipple or industrial piercings. However, it is important to note that most piercings will need to be downsized.

A stunning fresh daith piercing – pierced with the desired jewellery, and no downsize is needed!

So there you have it! What is downsizing, why it is important and all things in between! If you think your piercing is ready for a downsize, book in for a check-up with us here! If you’re not local to Nottingham, check out the piercer map to find your closest UKAPP piercer to help assist you, or reach out to us for recommendations!

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