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Ear & Body Piercing/Okay to Remove Cheek/Dahlia Barbells?


QUESTION: I got my dahlia piercings three days ago. I've had them once before, but much too close together. Last time, my swelling was gone in about 2ish weeks, give or take. I ended up going to the hospital and having to remove them right as they healed, so I never got the chance to change them out.
I was told to wait about 4 weeks, (please dont just say "if thats what you were told then do that. tell me why or how to help heal faster?) but if my swelling is gone before then, is it safe to swap them out for smaller, black barbells so that they aren't snagging on my teeth while it finishes healing? Or will the black finish on the shorter ones cause the healing to slow or create an infection?
My swelling is almost 100% gone and I'm wanting to put in the shorter ones because of course they look better, but also because I wear a retainer, and from time to time the longer barbells get caught in the wire, and I don't feel like that's very productive for the healing process.
Am I okay to swap to shorter barbells? Will it impact the healing at all? If so, will it speed it up or slow it down? Thanks!

ANSWER: First, the black jewelry most likely is not adequately safe for healing or long term wear as it is probably PVD coated by a manufacturer that has not shared safety validation for the material. This could be a major complication to switching during healing or after due to concerns about the material and proper sterilization and aseptic handling of the jewelry will be necessary either way.

Presuming that you have no trace of swelling, as a professional I could use the appropriate safety precautions to switch you now to shorter, safe anodized titanium jewelry with black decorative ends, as could my colleagues at

Don't do this yourself. Your piercer should be glad to help.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much! So I should be getting the shorter, stainless steel barbells but the black balls should be safe. Good to know, I'll definitely do that.

I still have a little bit of swelling, and my piercing didn't start discharging or crusting until I was on a greyhound bus for ~30 hours. Now I'm periodically having to scratch off any crust build up around the stud, and have removed the piercing to fully clean the skin around the hole. This made my piercing swell back up a bit, but not much.
Cleaning the crust from the studs of the piercing seem to be irritating the piercing more and more; but leaving the crust will lead to even more irritation and possible infection. Is there something specific that may help it discharge less or not at all?

I still have some swelling, but there is some slack room on the barbell. Because I wear a retainer that sometimes snags on the barbell, I'm wondering if the shorter jewelry will help to speed up the healing (due to not being snagged on the wire?) or if it would even fit with the small bit of swelling that I do have. Would the piercing create more discharge if I put in the shorter jewelry? Would the piercing swell more if I did because it has less wiggle room to swell or 'breathe'? Each time my barbell snags my retainer wire (which is not often; only when I'm not expecting it) my piercing seems to get more irritated and slightly painful for the following few hours.

I would also like to include that while I have been smoking cigarettes during this healing process, I rinse immediately afterward with alcohol-free mouthwash, as well as after eating. I did the same with my tongue piercing. Does this have anything to do with the discharge or irritation?

*I suggest anodized titanium, not stainless steel. The black ends that I mentioned are not coated, rather are gemstones such as onyx or black tourmaline or zircon.

I'd expect that you might need to downsize to an intermediate length for now, if it is bothering you. Too short and it will embed. Too much handling for cleaning can be a nuisance, I'd rather you try softening the dried matter with sterile saline, and wiping away with sterile gauze.

The less you smoke, the faster this can get better. Rinsing with distilled water or clean bottled water rather than mouthwash should be less irritating, and you  can drink it.

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Brian Skellie


I can answer questions in regards to and not limited to: jewelry safety, specifically material, shape, proportion, and related issues; aseptic technique and sterilization as it applies to piercing safety; ethical issues of technique and bedside manner; the aftercare and recovery process for piercings. *Available for consultation.


Body artist and founder of Piercing Experience (1992), and SciCan Authorized Dealer of STATIM Sterilizers and related infection control products

Currently serving on the APP Board of Directors as President, formerly as Global Media Director 2013-2014, International Liaison 2010-13, Treasurer 1997-99. Over fifteen years with ASTM and APP.

The Point Journal of the Association of Professional Piercers, USA Today, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing

I regularly participate and teach in many APP and related body art educational programs. I keep current certifications for OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens, First Aid, and CPR.

Awards and Honors
APP President's Award, Best Freehand Piercer, Best of Atlanta

Past/Present Clients
Tens of thousands of one on one client experiences as the founder of Piercing Experience in Atlanta, GA, USA *Body jewelry design and safety expert: Member ASTM committee F04( former Member AAMI ( Research advisor and educator for the APP for over a decade( teaching advanced studio setup, sterilization and equipment management, freehand piercing, aseptic/sterile technique and much more. Distributor and Body Art expert for SciCan StatIM sterilization and infection control products. and

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