Thinking about getting a tongue piercing but not sure what to expect? If you’ve ever wanted to get your tongue pierced but you’ve been put off by conflicting accounts of the pain, confusion about the healing and aftercare process, or because you’re unsure of how to look after it, then this article could help you decide if this piercing is for you.

I put off getting my tongue piercing for years because I had heard horror stories of people contracting hepatitis, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to ever eat solids again, and I was reluctant to pay for something that might end up as an infection. I was also worried that the information from my piercer would be biased, since he ultimately wants me to get it done. I eventually decided that it’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven’t done. After I made up my mind to get pierced I spent hours trawling the internet to find some reliable accounts of the healing process, but I couldn’t find all the information I wanted in one place.

So I decided to keep this diary for anyone who wants a true, unbiased account of what it’s really like to have your tongue pierced!

Day 1 – Getting Pierced:

I was a bit nervous about getting my tongue piercing as it’s such a thick muscle, but I’ve been pierced quite a few times before now so I thought I’d be okay with the pain. I went to a piercer who’s pierced me many times over the last eight years or so, and he’s pierced lots of other people that I know too.

I went with a friend who’s also been pierced lots of times. We arrived at the studio quite late in the day, around four o’clock, and I was due to go to work in the pub at seven o’ clock, so I hadn’t left much time to call in sick in the case of extreme pain. I sat on the bench and the piercer went through all the aftercare instructions with me. I asked how much it would swell and bruise as I’d seen some hideous pictures. There are some things you can do to reduce swelling, like sucking ice and taking ibuprofen, but ultimately it depends on the individual.

I closed my eyes and stuck out my tongue. I felt the clamp press down and pull my tongue further out of my mouth. My piercer was talking the whole time about how well I was doing and how it would all be over in just a minute. I felt like a child having an injection. It was over really quickly, and I honestly hardly felt the needle, it didn’t even hurt as much as biting my tongue. In a few seconds the balls were tightened up and I was done!

While my friend got on the bench to have her conch done, the piercer gave me a glass of water and a wad of tissue and sat me in a chair opposite a mirror. It looked really good and, at this point, it wasn’t hurting at all, but it was very uncomfortable and felt like it could rip all the way through my tongue if I wasn’t very careful. Fortunately I didn’t dribble too much and we were ready to go about 10 minutes after walking into the studio. I was told to come back in 5 days to get the barbell changed for a smaller one, as the barbell you originally get pierced with has to be very long to allow for the swelling.

Over the next few hours it didn’t hurt but it was still uncomfortable, and I talked with a bit of a lisp. Eating was out of the question though, even mashed potato was too tricky because it kept getting stuck on the bar. On the way to work I bought some baby food which was easier to eat because it’s quite thin, although it isn’t very filling. 

I worked until midnight, and by the end of the night I was shouting at customers to compensate for my terrible slurring. My mouth was tired and overworked, despite putting ice on my tongue whenever I could and using EasyPiercing Mouthwash Solution after eating, so I took some painkillers and went straight to bed.

Day 2:

When I woke up my tongue piercing was much less painful than it was when I went to sleep the night before, and it wasn’t very swollen. I brushed my teeth with no trouble, just being a bit careful not to catch the barbell or pull it. When I looked in the mirror, my tongue piercing looked healthy and clean, and I was really pleased with how it looked. I didn’t eat anything that morning because I didn’t want to aggravate it, but I did drink lots of cold water to keep it clean and hydrated, and to help with the swelling.

At lunch time I ate some cold lentil soup and a pot of pear and banana baby food. It wasn’t the nicest lunch I ever ate but it didn’t cause any pain. About an hour later I was really hungry for proper food, and I managed to eat a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I made sure I took small bites and chewed on the side of my mouth, it took a while but it felt okay.

Later on I went to the pub. I ordered a soft drink with lots of ice because you aren’t supposed to drink alcohol with a new piercing, although my piercer had told me it would be alright in moderation. My tongue was starting to hurt a bit by now, and it had swollen up quite a lot. I wasn’t alarmed by it though, I knew that the worst swelling would occur on days 2-5.

We went back to a friend’s house after the pub for a barbecue, but I took a Pot Noodle along with me for my dinner because they’re a bit like soup and they don’t need much chewing. I let it cool down a lot before I ate it, but it was still quite difficult to eat and it took me about half an hour to get through it. I did have a pint while we were there too, but I made sure I rinsed my mouth out with lots of water and EasyPiercing Mouthwash Solution. I didn’t really enjoy my drink because my whole mouth was starting to hurt and I was scared of hurting it more. Later in the night I was hungry again so I tried to eat some beans, but my mouth and tongue were killing me by then so I gave up and went home grumpy, hungry, and in pain.  

When I got home I realised how tiring it is to be in constant pain, and to always be compensating for it. I was knackered and went to bed at half past nine. 

Day 3:

I stayed at home most of the day feeling sorry for myself. My tongue piercing was killing me and I had a load of lymph oozing out from the wound which felt gooey and thick, and wasn’t very easy to clean off. I spent the majority of the morning sucking on cold mashed potato and washing it down with water. My taste buds and the edges of the tongue piercing felt huge and had a tingling, burning sensation, which made everything taste horrible, and made the water I was drinking feel like acid. To make things worse, I’d run out of painkillers. I avoided talking to anyone for hours, until I couldn’t take the boredom anymore and decided to go for a drive.

Lucky for me, I found some painkillers in the car, so I took two immediately. In an hour or so the pain dulled down a bit, bit it never completely went away, it still burned. I went to the pub and spent a miserable hour not talking to anyone or drinking anything. It was definitely the most painful day yet. And I was hungry.

Day 4:

Back to work after the bank holiday, I made sure I took a bottle of water, some EasyPiercing Mouthwash Solution, a tin of soup, a jar of baby food and a yoghurt with me. When I woke up my tongue piercing felt painful and fat but I didn’t have time to worry about it before I went to work.

At work there was another girl who’d had her tongue pierced the day before me. When I looked at hers it seemed very healthy, nice and pink and not swollen at all. Fortunately though, for me anyway, she said that it had been swollen and sore but it had gone down that morning, so I allowed myself to hope that mine might be the same the next day.

My tongue piercing hurt all day at work, it was a constant stinging pain, and in the afternoon I had to go out to buy more painkillers. The thing that was worrying me the most though was that all the tissue around the hole had gone hard, and there was a raised layer of hard white skin on one side of it. It was like the hard skin that people get on their feet. When I got home I trawled the internet again, but I couldn’t find anything about this hard skin I had on my tongue. I was beginning to get quite frightened. Was it scar tissue? Was it going to stay like that forever? Would I ever be able to eat again? I tried to brush it off, but to no avail. I used mouthwash, Saline Solution, tried to pick it off, and nothing. I didn’t know what to do, except wait until I saw my piercer and ask him what on Earth was wrong with my tongue!

To Continue…

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