A piercing is a commitment. You can try new makeup and wash it off, or dye your hair and dye it back, but if you’re trying to change your look with a new piercing, it’s going to take months of care and consistency.
You’re going to have to keep that jewelry in for a while, so make sure you really want a nose piercing!
We understand that life has a way of throwing some curveballs at you, though. There are certain situations where you might have to remove your nose jewelry. Maybe you had to take it out for a job interview, for surgery, or due to migration or rejection with the piercing.
Whatever the case may be, it is possible to re-pierce a closed nose piercing. We’re going to go over the possibility of reopening one first, then piercing. We’ll explore whether you can do it in the same spot, at home vs going to a piercer, pain levels, and how to mitigate them!
Is it possible to re-open a closed nose piercing?
Your nose piercing may look closed, but there is still hope to reopen it! This depends on two key factors: how long it was pierced, and how long it’s been since the jewelry was removed.
Nose piercings can be tricky to heal since the hole is going through cartilage. Cartilage has less of a blood supply in comparison to your earlobes and takes longer to heal.
If the piercing is fresh and you remove the jewelry, the hole will begin to close immediately. If you’ve had the piercing for less than a year, your piercing can close within a few hours or days. Even piercings that have been healed for years can start to close at the inside of the nose, where the tissue is more vascular (has more blood vessels).
For this reason, don’t change your jewelry after piercing for at least 2-3 months, and reinsert it as soon as possible. If you need to have more a discreet look, instead of removing your jewelry, consider alternate jewelry. There are clear and low-profile options that will be far less visible, while still keeping the piercing open.
You can attempt to reopen a nose piercing yourself after you have considered the two factors above. The rule of thumb is, that the longer it was pierced and the less time the jewelry was removed, the greater chance you have of reopening.
Make sure to clean your jewelry and wash your hands before attempting to reinsert jewelry. This works best after a shower when your tissue is warm and relaxed. Dab oil or an ointment such as vaseline on the jewelry to lubricate. While gently pushing, you can twist the jewelry in a clockwise motion. If it won’t slip easily into your piercing, do not force it. You don’t want to cause additional damage to the tissue. Doing so puts you at risk for infection and other complications.
We highly recommend visiting your piercer for help. Even if you’re fully healed, nose jewelry can be fiddly and difficult to insert yourself. Sometimes it may seem impossible to reopen the piercing yourself, but a piercer can assess the situation and is better able to navigate around your piercing. They can also use something called a taper pin to gently open it up without having to re-pierce it.
A taper pin starts out small and gets progressively larger to stretch the hole wide enough to accept the jewelry. While this might sound scary, you won’t feel actual stretching and might not even know they’re using a pin vs the jewelry itself. Piercers generally charge a nominal service fee to reopen a piercing, so you won’t have to pay as much for a piercing.
Even being as gentle as possible runs the risk of irritating the tissue and your piercing may be sore and swollen after reopening it. Sea salt soaks for a few days will help calm it down.
Is it ok to re-pierce in the same spot?
Of course, sometimes it’s just been too long and the piercing closes up entirely. In this case, you may be able to re-pierce in the same spot.
There are no hard and fast rules for how long you should wait. Everyone’s body is different and heals at different rates. However, as stated above, the longer the piercing was there with jewelry in it, the more established the piercing will be. Consequently, the longer it will take for the tissue to completely heal. Before piercing, you must make sure you’re fully healed. This will take at least 3 months, so be patient.
Even when the tissue heals, it’s not the same as it was before. Depending on your body, there will be more or less scar tissue. A greater amount of scar tissue will make it difficult to pierce the same spot. Since scar tissue does not have as many blood vessels as normal tissue, it also heals much more slowly.
In most cases, you can have the original channel pierced, as only the entry and exit points have healed.
Is it safe to re-pierce it yourself?
Re-piercing your nose yourself is a terrible idea – we do NOT recommend it!
Piercing your nose, in general, is tricky due to cartilage and placement. This is your face, after all, and you want to make sure the jewelry is laying in the right spot to be flattering to your nose. Navigating needles and jewelry in and around your nostril is tricky in the best case, especially when you throw possible scar tissue in the mix!
If this doesn’t scare you sufficiently from piercing yourself, please keep in mind that the nasal passage is connected to your brain. Although rare, an infection in the nose can travel to the brain. It is worth the money to go to a professional piercer using sterilized instruments.
A professional piercer will also be able to assess whether your nose is healed enough to attempt piercing and if it was possible to re-pierce the same spot.
Does re-piercing hurt more?
The answer to this is: it depends. It may hurt more due to increased scar tissue in the area. This will be more likely if you removed the jewelry due to migration or rejection issues.
Sometimes it is just the entry and exit points that have healed over, and re-piercing the same spot hurts less than the initial piercing.
In addition, anticipation and not knowing what will happen tends to heighten your perception of pain. Oftentimes, people who are getting re-pierced are used to the procedure and not as nervous, leading to an easier and smoother experience.
How can you ease the pain of a re-piercing?
Many factors go into someone’s perception of pain, and therefore a variety of ways to ease the pain of a re-piercing.
First, make sure that you don’t drink alcohol within 24-48 hours of getting re-pierced and make sure you’re well hydrated. Not only will alcohol thin your blood, no one wants to get re-pierced while suffering from even a mild hangover. On that note, it’s best to avoid caffeine as well, since that also thins your blood and can heighten any feelings of anxiety, leading to more pain.
You can try using ice to help numb the area before re-piercing. Just bring a few cubes in a bag, and hold them to the area for 15 to 20 minutes. The cold sensation can trick your brain into not feeling the pain of the needle passing through.
During the piercing procedure, you’re often told to take a few deep breaths, and they pierce you on an exhale.
You can make breathing work for you even more by starting as soon as you get to the studio, by practicing something called “box breathing”. The US Navy Seals use it to manage stressful situations, so you’ll be in good company!
You divide your breathing into four steps as if you’re breathing around a box.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Inhale slowly through your nose for four counts. Let your belly and lungs fill with air.
Step 2: Hold your breath for four counts
Step 3: Slowly exhale for four counts
Step 4: Repeat these steps at least three times.
Navy Seals will perform this technique for about five minutes to get the full benefit.
Breathing slowly and deeply signals your nervous system to calm down. It will reduce the sensation of pain you experience if you’re calm and relaxed, vs tense and anxious.