My Ear Piercing Experiences

3:53 AM

Hey there! 

I've recently gotten a few new piercings at Attic's Jewelry and Piercing in Sunway Pyramid (they have an outlet in One Utama as well). I wrote a similar post three years ago after getting my first helix piercing, but I've since learned new things that I'd like to share. 

Why did I get more piercings? It might sound weird, but I prefer having an uneven number of piercings and my ideal amount was 7. It wasn't a rash decision either. It was something that I've been wanting to do for about 2 years, and I had decided to wait until the 21st of January 2018, my 21st birthday.  to see if I would still want it. And I did :)

This is my second time getting pierced at AJP. They said it'd take 15 minutes for a helix piercing, but it takes less time than that. I thought I'd compare my first helix on my right ear with my double helix on my left ear since it was a pretty different experience. 

I had my first done with a circular barbell. The painful part was when the piercer was twisting the jewelry around to put it inside, otherwise it was bearable. I did feel the needle going in, but only for a bit. I'd say it was a 4/10 on the pain level. At that time (2015), I paid RM 85 + an extra RM 19 to upgrade my jewelry. Total: RM 104. For the first hour or so, my ear felt like it was burning. I ate some ice cream and felt much better. 

I got a few irritation bumps while it was healing. I found out through Googling that circular jewelry moves around a lot which aggravates the fresh piercing. The best way to treat it is to switch it out for straight jewelry. I chose to leave it as it is since the bumps weren't that bad, and tried to avoid touching/moving it too much. The bumps went away on their own, and my piercing turned out fine.

I had my double helix piercing done with labret studs (flatbacks) because from my past experience, the circular barbell got caught in everything from my hair to my clothes when I'm putting them on, making my piercing feel irritated constantly. Flatbacks also don't hurt as much when the piercer is inserting jewelry into your ear since it goes straight through as the needle does. I upgraded my jewelry to cubic zirconia ones that costed RM 50 for both, and paid RM 180 for both piercings. Total: RM 230. 

That being said, I have depersonalization/derealization disorder - Feeling disconnected from reality and myself often means that I don't feel pain or other emotions as strongly as an average person, and it's even harder to feel anything when I'm tired (which I was that day). 

The piercing process starts with selecting the jewelry you want (if you opt to upgrade it to anything besides the basic barbell/flatback). Then they'll take you behind the curtain into the sterilized area. You sit on the chair with a pillow in your lap. The piercer will put on some gloves, show you the needle in the packet and describe the process. 

Then s/he will mark your ear with a pen and ask you to check to see if you like the positioning. If you don't, you can tell them if you want it higher or lower, and they'll tell you their thoughts on it. (e.g. if it's too high, it'll hit your glasses constantly).

The first time I was pierced with a needle, she told me to breathe in and inserted the needle while I breathe out. The second time around, I just waited and look straight ahead while the piercer inserted the needle and jewelry. 

I asked "Is the needle in yet?" in Malay and she told me she already did the first one ._.  

I expected it to hurt much more (since I was getting two at the same time) but I barely felt anything at all. The second one was the same. I guess it's also because she sprayed a liberal amount of numbing spray on them. She cleaned the ear afterwards while briefing me on the aftercare procedure. Both piercings were done within 10 minutes. I'd rate the amount it hurt a 0.5/10. 

When I got pierced with a gun, it was much more impactful and loud. I didn't like it because it made me jump and left me in a daze for a couple of hours after I got pierced.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend getting your piercings done at Attic's because they know what they're doing and will give you lots of advice on how to care for your piercings, and they're much more affordable than most piercing places here in Malaysia. I also like that it's not far from where I live, and I don't have to travel up to KL just to get pierced.

Here's a Q&A - detailing my piercing experiences, my thoughts and what I've learned based on subreddits like r/legitpiercing, r/piercing, piercing forums and articles or videos made by professional piercers.

Ear Piercings Q&A

1. How many piercings do you have and where? (and when did you get them?)

Overall, seven ear piercings in total.

Double lobe piercings.

- First lobe piercings at 8 years old in Poh Kong Jewelry. 
(It's a bit of a tradition to get them around this age. It's not religious or cultural, it's just that I noticed most of my Chinese friends went to Poh Kong to get their ears pierced at the behest of their mothers or aunts)
(Imagine two people holding piercing guns at your sides, counting down and shooting at the same time. Yup, that's what it was like.)
(I actually didn't wear earrings for maybe 3-4 years and they didn't close at all. They managed to pierce it evenly, and I never had any issue with it besides feeling uncomfortable sleeping on my back as a side sleeper)

- Second lobe piercings at 15 in Tomei Jewelry store then DIY-ish-with-ex-jeweler-person.
(They pierced it one side by one side, and it was pretty damn crooked. I got them with Joy and Cheryl, and C's piercing was so far from where it was supposed to be, she took it out and let it close. Mine got infected badly so I decided to let the piercings close up. Had them re-pierced 2-3 months later by my SS teacher. It did get infected again, but it wasn't as bad as the last time so I waited it out and it healed.. still kinda crooked but the holes never closed up)

Update: I'm currently stretching my second lobe piercings from 20g to 16g to straighten them out. It was so itchy and a bit swollen for the first few days, but it seems fine now. Keeping them in for a few months :)

(Taken right after getting pierced)
(Side view) 
(Front view)
Helix piercing.

- Single helix piercing on my right ear at 18 done at Attic's Jewelry & Piercing.

I asked the piercer to pierce it higher than the mark she placed on me. It's fully healed now, and I don't regret getting it pierced where I did.

Double helix piercings.
- Double helix piercing on my left ear at 21 done at Attic's Jewelry & Piercing.

 With the labret/flatback studs, I barely remember having the piercings because I don't feel anything at all. My hair is also much shorter than it used to be so it doesn't get caught on the earring and I'm careful when I put on or take off my glasses/clothes.

It's only a day old, so I'll do an update on how it heals later on. I'm spraying it with sterile saline solution (wound wash) that I bought from Lazada and applying the ointment that Attic's gave me. You could also try soaking your piercing in the solution.

It's not recommended to use DIY sea salt solution anymore because apparently, it's hard to get the ratios/materials right (like using distilled water instead of tap) and it could irritate your piercing if you do it wrongly. The sterile saline solution was pretty affordable (RM 13 for 500 ml) too, so there's really no reason not to get it if you want to clean your piercings properly.

Side note: Jewelry on lobes are from Temptation (triangle), Lovisa (bird) and Diva (bird). I usually wear 3mm studs sized 16 or 18g - since I have small ears.

2. Do you regret any of them?
- No. I always wanted more than the standard set of lobe piercings and wanted them even more after finding out about the different ear piercings there were through Pinterest. I do regret piercing my lobes with a gun, but at that time, I didn't know what a real piercing needle was (I assumed it was like a sewing needle cause I know families who DIY-ed it like that) and I probably wouldn't have been able to afford it at 15. 

3. What was your most painful piercing?
- Repiercing my second lobe piercings hurt because even though the previous piercings were healed, it was still scarred. It's still crooked today and I have to adjust it a lot before it'd go in. Also can't wear huggies there, only studs and some hoop earrings. Not to mention the repeated infections I had for almost a year... agh. 

4. Best way to care for piercings? 

(a) Most people find the LITHA (Leave It The Hell Alone) method to be the most efficient way to heal a piercing after a month of having just gotten pierced. (During the first month, I believe it's recommended to use sterile saline solution, but not to move your jewelry when you clean it) 

(b) You could also try cleaning it with sterile saline solution once or twice a day till it heals.

(c) Don't twist the piercing - twisting introduces bacteria and causes the fistula to tear which will lengthen the healing process.

(d) Try not to touch it but if you have to, for some reason -

(e) Wash your hands with antibacterial soap beforehand.

(f)  Professional piercers usually recommend not cleaning up the crusties because it helps your piercing to heal. However, if you have dried blood, or crusties that are about to fall off, use wound gauze or a paper towel to gently wipe it off. Don't use cotton swabs because the cotton fibre can get stuck in between your piercing and ear.

(g) If you're a side sleeper and you've just gotten ear piercings on both sides, try using a travel pillow that keeps you from sleeping on it to avoid getting irritation bumps. Or if you have it on one side, then try training yourself to sleep on the other side.

(h) Don't use antiseptic cream/alcohol/tea tree oil because it will irritate your piercing and might cause it to close up. Only use whatever is provided by your piercer. 

(i) Try not to eat eggs or seafood for the next 2-3 weeks after you get pierced, it might make your piercing itch.

Read the APP's guide on aftercare for more information. It's based on a clinic's guide for healing wounds (keep in mind, a freshly pierced body part is essentially just a wound to your body).

5. Would you get another piercing and if so, where?
- Maybe in a few years if I have good reason. Either a third set of lobe piercings (they heal so easily) or double/triple forward helix piercings on my right ear. My ears are small, so I'm hesitant to get too many because I'm not sure if it'll look 'crowded' since I don't have much space on my ears.

I do think about getting a belly or nipple piercings but it doesn't suit my lifestyle since I do abs exercises often and my cats like to jump and snuggle on my lap/chest - having piercings on my frontal area or face would be very uncomfortable to have and difficult to heal.

6. What else should I know about?

It's important to be well-rested, well-fed and hydrated so you don't get dizzy when you're getting pierced.

- Depending on your body anatomy, some piercings may or may not work for you because of the shape and size of your body part. However, an experienced piercer might know a way to customize the piercing to suit you.

- With that in mind, it's important to make sure your piercer knows what s/he's doing. Look at their portfolio and analyze their work. Also do as much proper research (facts backed up by professional piercers) as you can about the piercing process, the best material for an initial piercing and healing process, instead of relying just on the word of others.

- Professional piercers in the industry do not recommend piercing with a gun although it's an extremely common practice that many opt for. The common perception is that it's more affordable and piercing/tattoo parlors that offer piercing with needles are seen as scary or not suitable for kids or teenagers. 

It's important to note that piercing guns have been proven to not be sterile (since it has plastic parts, it can't be placed in an autoclave to be properly sterilized), the blunt stud causes tissue trauma, the piercer does not have the proper training or knowledge required to perform a piercing, the impact from a gun could shatter your cartilage and it's much harder to pierce precisely with one. Also, the jewelry used is not made of the right material (might cause allergic reaction) and does not allow for proper healing (butterfly backs don't leave any space for swelling)

Some people have gotten piercings with a gun that turned out fine, but that's due to luck, really. My first gun piercings were okay, but the next four times was a nightmare. I strongly advise against recommending unsafe practices, even if it turned out well for you because other people might not be as lucky.

- Different parts of your body takes a different amount of time to heal. Don't change your jewelry when your piercing is still healing because it sets back the healing time.

- The most common issue that piercings face during the healing process are irritation bumps. Most people think that it's keloids but that's rare, and you won't get them unless you're genetically/systemically predisposed to getting them. The general advice for dealing with irritation bumps is to avoid aggravating it further by leaving it alone. It might take some time, but it'll go away eventually. It can also be caused by using improper jewelry that is causing an allergic reaction - in which case you should go to the piercing studio and having it changed to something made with an implant grade material.

7. Where can you pierce your ears in Malaysia?
Option 1: With a piercing needle.
Places: Tattoo parlours in Sungei Wang mall, Dragonfly Tattoo in Midvalley (last I checked it costed RM 115 or so), Attic's Jewelry and Piercing (RM 90 as of 2018). There's a couple of tattoo shops in KL that do needle piercings too. 

Option 2: With a gun. 
Places: Wouldn't recommend it but you can get it in any jewelry shop, for RM 15-30 (I think, it's been almost 6 years since I've gone to one for piercings). Keep in mind, that the piercers will not be professionally trained. 

8. What do my piercings represent?
First lobe piercings: Fun, really. Besides that, for a somewhat tomboyish girl, growing up, jewelry was one of the few feminine things that I enjoyed. Couldn't have cared less about fashion and makeup at that time. I always wore tees and shorts since I spent all my free time outdoors, playing outside or cycling around. But I always enjoyed trying on different earrings, necklaces and bracelets. 

Second lobe piercings:  Time with my best friends when we were excitable, loud and adventurous. It was also something of a bonding experience since we held each other's hands tightly when it was our turn and panicked together HAHAHA. 

First single helix piercing: Coming of age - 18th birthday. How my life has changed over the years and not being afraid to experience new things. 

Second double helix piercings: Marks another milestone on my 21st birthday. 

9. Piercing gun vs needle?

Gun: Nope.

Process: Pretty much like getting shot in the ear, it's shocking. And sometimes it ends up crooked. For me, it hurt much more than getting pierced with a needle. I'd say 5 or 6 on a scale of 10.

Healing: Lotsssss of infections because they use the wrong jewelry (butterfly backs) that don't allow proper healing and sometimes the holes end up too small and close up quickly. If you pierce your nose or ear with it, it could shatter the cartilage.

Warning: The gun can get jammed and stuck on your ear.

Price: Cheap, but you kinda pay for it with infections.

Needle: Yes.

Process: Get poked with the needle, it stays in your ear for a while while the piercer attempts to add the jewelry in it (this is the part that hurts the most if the jewelry is a captive bead ring or circular barbell), needle gets pulled out, earring is closed and you're done.

Healing: For me, I felt a burning feeling for 30 minutes right after getting it done. Then it started to feel better, and I was just very aware of the piercing for a while because I didn't want to accidentally move it. Didn't get any infections, cleaned it when I woke up and before I went to sleep, used the cream the shop gave and try to keep my hair away from it. I barely feel it most of the time. It healed up fine.

Price: Expensive, but much safer alternative.

10. What are the upsides or downsides of having piercings?

  • It fits my vibe and personality.
  • I can wear up to 7 pieces of my favorite jewelry instead of just two.
  • Lesson in discipline and self-control during the healing stage.
  • Not being able to sleep on my side while it's healing.
  • Hurts when I accidentally touch it or if someone hugs me suddenly and squeezes me tightly when it's still healing.
  • Irritation bumps might occur.

11. Advice for someone who is thinking of getting piercings. 
Think it through and make sure you're okay with having it for the rest of your life.. and make sure that it will fit your lifestyle. 

12. Your opinion about piercings.
Growing up in a somewhat liberal family, but also with parents and relatives who have some conservative values, I was always told that excessive piercings are unnecessary or made people look wild/gangster/etc - which is the typical opinion of Chinese society (in my experience). 

I didn't have much of an opinion on it.. but I used to admire my Indian kindergarten teachers' nose piercings because they always seem to wear the shiniest gold studs with interesting shapes and designs. And later on in life, I went on Pinterest/Weheartit/Tumblr and discovered all the different types of piercings that exist. That's when I fell in love.

For a while, I was afraid to get anything besides lobe piercings because I was very involved in Christianity, and there was a Bible verse about your body being God's temple, and not to put any marks or tattoos on your flesh. I'm still a Christian, but I disagree strongly with a lot of teachings in the Old Testament (which includes that verse) because it relates to a time before Christ, in which piercings/tattoos had more religious or tribal meaning, as compared to now when people get them because it holds significance to them or just for fun.

My opinion in body modification is just that everyone has a right to choose what to do with their own body (known as bodily autonomy) and I hate people who are judgmental or critical of the choices that people make just because they don't agree with it. 

I don't like several types of piercings or tattoos, but I respect people's rights and preferences so I don't think too much of it when people have them.

Anyway, I hope you found this helpful but please do even more research and try to be as well-informed as possible before getting your piercing :)

If you want to know more, a few reliable resources I recommend are:

- The Association of Professional Piercers. They have an in-depth FAQ article that shares their insights.

- The Piercing Bible - a book that has been approved and praised by established piercers in the industry for providing accurate information about piercings.

Till next time!

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  1. Hi there Lyn! I'm planning to get my helix done this month, (also marking my 21st birthday) ;) and I'm in a dilemma choosing between Attic and Dragonfly. The last time I went to Attic (both at 1 utama and Pyramid) the piercers looked like foreigners -no hate against foreigners tho- just questioning their credibiility and hygiene level. P.S. I'm a really paranoid person. Did you have yours done by them too?



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