Cheek piercings are any facial piercing done in the cheek region. They can occur on the upper part of the face, closer to the eyes, or lower in the cheek, where dimples occur naturally.
They’re also called dimple piercings when they’re in the dimple region. Though they are often done for cute cheek jewelry, some people may get them to create the appearance of a dimple on their cheek.
Are you interested in cheek piercings? Then, keep reading this article to learn more about the procedure, aftercare, and potential risks.
Types of cheek piercings
You can get a cheek piercing on one or both sides of your face. You can also get one in the dimple region or the upper cheek. A piercing in the dimple region is called a dimple piercing, while one higher up is called a cheekbone piercing. Though cheekbone piercings lie in the same area as the anti-eyebrow piercing, they don’t have the characteristic double-piercing look.
Besides the position of the piercing, we can broadly categorize piercings into two groups: Surface and dermal cheek piercings.
Surface cheek piercing
Surface cheek piercings pass through the flesh from one end to the other. The jewelry has to pass through the cheek muscles on the outside and come out on the outside. Dimple piercings fall under this category. The piercer would have to check the inside of your mouth to ensure they aren’t striking the parotid gland – which produces saliva.
Dermal cheek piercing
Dermal cheek piercings don’t have an exit hole. The jewelry goes in one way and sits beneath the top layers of skin. You can get this piercing anywhere on your cheeks because it doesn’t penetrate deep. The jewelry is anchored under a few layers of skin using a dermal anchor.
Getting a cheek piercing
The first thing to do when getting a cheek piercing is to find a piercer with experience piercing the cheeks — if they have a cheek piercing themselves, even better. Experienced piercers know where to mark out the parotid duct in your mouth to avoid hitting it when they pass the needle through.
💡 Take Note: Don’t try to pierce your cheek by yourself or with an amateur, especially if a piercer with more experience has advised you against getting the piercing.
How much is a cheek piercing?
A cheek piercing can cost anywhere between $40 and $100. Your choice of jewelry can increase the cost, depending on the type of metal. Additionally, more reputable piercers are your best option, and they may charge more.
What gauge is a cheek piercing?
Piercers typically use 12 to 16-gauge labret studs or barbells when piercing the cheek. The size accommodates swelling and healing after the cheek gets pierced.
Complications of cheek piercings
Even though cheek piercings heal with stunning results, they have their fair share of problems. This section covers six common complications associated with cheek piercings.
Many mouth piercings cause swelling in the aftermath. An ice pack on the swollen area can calm the swelling effects. Selecting a longer bar when you get the piercing initially is also advisable — it will prevent the bar from getting stuck in the flesh while the piercing swells and heals.
Though swelling is expected with all piercings, certain swellings may have a hard lump. This lump is known as a lymphatic lump or fluid pocket. It’s caused by stored lymphatic fluid in your cheeks which develop pockets around the piercing. Though it’s possible to drain the fluid, this can prove difficult, leading to the formation of lumps.
Piercing infections are a common complication. Your piercing is probably infected if you’re experiencing redness, itching, prolonged swelling, and yellowish discharge. You can use home remedies like saline solutions and warm compresses to heal infections. Still, you should seek medical advice if the issue persists.
With every piercing, there’s the possibility of scarring when you remove the jewelry — typical for cheek piercings. For some people, this is the goal. The scar from a cheek piercing could give the appearance of a dimple. But if you’re not up for an eternal mark on your face after you remove the jewelry, it’s best to avoid this piercing.
Biting the jewelry
It’s also possible to bite down on the jewelry while eating. This could happen if the bar is too long or the barbell bead is too large. The good news is this complication is easily preventable. After healing, you should switch out the long bar for a shorter one and chew carefully while eating.
Damaged parotid gland
Some piercers opt out of piercing the cheeks because of the risk of striking the parotid gland. The parotid gland produces saliva and can be hit during the piercing, leading to saliva flow outside the mouth. An excellent way to avoid this is by using experienced piercers only. Because of their knowledge and experience, they can choose the best spot to avoid damaging the gland.
Healing and aftercare
Cheek piercings usually rank low on the pain scale, but the healing is often more taxing. The swelling could cause significant discomfort, making everyday activities like chewing and laughing difficult. However, here are some tips to make the healing process less grueling.
- Clean once or twice daily using saline solution and a cotton bud.
- Avoid touching the piercing site and playing with the jewelry.
- Don’t touch the piercing unless you’ve washed your hands.
- Avoid using makeup and face washes, which can irritate the piercing site.
- Speak to your piercer if you notice any colored discharge or unusual swelling.
How long does a cheek piercing take to heal?
Cheek piercings take between 6 to 12 months to heal. The piercing usually swells while it heals. Piercers often use a longer bar to prevent the piercing from embedding in the swollen flesh. You can switch the bar out for a shorter one when the swelling has gone down.
How to treat an infected cheek piercing
Piercing infections can cause discomfort and pain. While it’s essential to meet a medical professional when your piercing is infected, here are some tips for treating it at home.
Avoid touching the piercing and pulling on the jewelry
You might be tempted to scratch the piercing or twist the jewelry to alleviate the itching, but it’s unhelpful. It can aggravate the itching, introduce more bacteria, and prolong the infection.
Clean the area
Use a warm saline solution to clean the infected area two to three times a day. You can make your own solution at home using a teaspoon of salt in two cups of boiled water. Remember to wash your hands before you touch the piercing site.
Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic
You can buy a topical antibiotic to rub on the infected piercing. Read the instructions carefully to ensure you use it correctly.
Apply a warm compress
This will help soothe the infection and reduce inflammation. Dip a clean, absorbent cloth in warm water and place it over the piercing for a few minutes.
Though these tips can help minimize discomfort, they may not heal the infection. It’s best to visit a professional if your infection persists.
How to get rid of a cheek piercing fluid pocket
Fluid pockets can cause some discomfort, but it’s possible to heal them using home remedies. Here are some methods to help reduce the lumps around your piercing.
Avoid touching the piercing with your hands
Don’t try to scratch off the formed crust with your fingernails or play with the jewelry.
Clean with a warm saline solution
Keep the area clean using a warm saline solution at least twice daily. This will prevent the generation of infection and promote healing.
Massage gently with your fingers
Remember to wash your hands before you place your hands on the piercing site. A gentle massage with slow circular motions a few times daily can improve drainage and reduce swelling.
Apply a warm compress
The warmth from a warm compress can soothe any irritation. It can also improve circulation and drainage, leading to a reduction in the lump.
These methods can help reduce the swelling and discomfort associated with fluid pockets. But if the problem persists or you notice itching or yellow or greenish discharge, visit a professional for medical advice.
Frequently asked questions
We’ve covered a lot already. But you may have a few more questions. So here, we provide answers to some popular questions about cheek piercings.
What is a cheek piercing called?
Cheek piercings are also called dimple piercings. However, this name holds for those piercings which lie on the part of the face a dimple naturally indents. Upper cheek piercings sit higher up on the cheek.
What’s the best cheek piercing jewelry?
Labret studs and straight barbells are commonly used for surface cheek piercings, and both have advantages. The flat back of labret studs means your teeth are unlikely to get damaged from them, but they could get stuck in the soft tissue of your mouth as the swelling heels.
Straight barbells are unlikely to embed in your cheek, but if the bead is too large, you could mistakenly bite it as you chew. Ultimately, choosing the best jewelry depends on you and what feels the most comfortable in your mouth.
Do cheek piercing holes close?
Yes, cheek piercing holes close. The mouth region is known for wounds that close quickly. Nevertheless, though the wound closes, a noticeable scar will remain. Some people get their cheeks pierced for the indentation the scar gives, but if you don’t fancy an eternal mark on your face, it’s best to avoid this piercing.
How long do cheek dermal piercings last?
Dermal piercings are notorious for eventually rejecting — the skin grows and pushes the jewelry to the surface. However, they can stay in for anywhere between a few months and a few years. You can make them last longer with proper care.
Adorn your cheeks
The cute aesthetic of cheek piercings looks good on both men and women. Nevertheless, you must be sure this is a piercing you want because the scars don’t fade quickly. Ensure you choose a piercer with good experience handling this piercing, follow with prescribed aftercare diligently, and your piercing should heal without complications.
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