After my frightening experience on day 4 of the healing process, where my tongue piercing looked like a leathery foot, I was more than keen to get back to the piercing studio to find out what was wrong. Fortunately, I was due to go back the next day to get the bar downsized.

Day 5 – Getting downsized:

All morning at work I was itching for lunch-time. Not because I wanted to eat, it hurt too much, but because I could get out to go and see my piercer. I still had the burning sensation at the edges of my tongue, and there was still a hard white ridge on one side of the piercing, but the pain wasn’t as bad as it had been the night before.

When I got to the studio I explained my concerns, but I was quickly assured I had nothing to worry about. The hard tissue was an effect of the swelling and it should, I’m told, disappear as my tongue reduces back down to its normal size.

When you first get your tongue pierced you have to have a very long barbell to allow for the swelling. After the swelling has gone down a bit, the bar moves around a lot more and becomes more uncomfortable. This could have been what was causing the hard swelling around my barbell. The barbell had been covered in lymph, which is the stuff that scabs are made of, and the lymph had been covering up a small rip in front of the bar.

My piercer was unperturbed and promptly cleaned the lymph off. It’s quite common to get small tears in a new tongue piercing and, as long as I’m careful, it should heal over pretty quickly. The next thing he did was clamp my tongue again so he could take the barbell out to swap it for a smaller one. He was going to reduce the length of the barbell by 6mm, because that was roughly how much my swelling had gone down by. As he slid the barbell out it felt fine, but when he put the new one in it stung quite a lot. The pain was over almost instantly, and when I closed my mouth it felt 100 times better than it had when I walked into the studio.

The difference was amazing. I hadn’t realised that the bottom threaded ball of the original barbell had been rubbing on my lower gum, until suddenly the pressure wasn’t there any more due to having the shorter bar. I was instantly able to pronounce the letter ’s’, and I could move my tongue around much more freely.

When I got back to work I ate a chocolate bar and a yoghurt. It was the easiest time I’d had eating since the day I got pierced. I was so excited about being able to eat that when I got home I ate 2 biscuits as well. That made me swell up a bit, so I drank some cold water and had a couple of spoons of ice cream to shrink it back down again. I was slightly afraid that the balls would disappear inside my tongue if I let it get too swollen for the smaller barbell, but it soon settled back down.

A few hours later I had my first proper dinner since getting the piercing. I was going to eat something hot, and the funny burning sensation had started to come back slightly around the edges of my tongue, so I prepared myself by dissolving an aspirin on my tongue, with just a tiny amount of water. It was a really good idea and I was able to eat my dinner with almost no trouble at all, I just made sure I ate small bites and chewed on one side of my mouth, since I’m still a bit wary of making the rip any worse.

So, so far so good for the smaller barbell. My piercer told me to go back the next week to be downsized again, so it wasn’t over yet. He said the barbell I had now would end up as uncomfortable as the old bar was by the time I went back, which was something to look forward to!

Days 6-8:

The swelling gradually went down over these few days and I was better able to eat as the days went on. On Saturday I could eat warm food normally, although eating anything hard or crunchy was still a problem because I kept biting the bar. By Saturday night the rip had healed and the tongue piercing only hurt when I caught it, which I did quite often since the bar still felt quite alien in my mouth. The best thing was that the burning sensation had disappeared completely.

Days 9-12

I was supposed to get the barbell downsized again on Wednesday but I didn’t go because my tongue piercing was still swollen, particularly in the mornings when I woke up. There was a dent in the top of my tongue piercing where the threaded ball had been pressing in to it, and I was worried that if I got downsized again too soon the new barbell would get swallowed by the swelling.

Days 13-18:

Over this week the swelling went down almost completely, but there was an area at the front of the barbell where the hard ridge had been that was still fatter than the rest. I also had a scar where I’d torn it before, but I thought that would fade over time. The barbell was beginning to feel quite big and annoying, so I was excited to go and get it changed again.

One other thing that I noticed was that I kept getting ulcers, I think from where the ball rubbed against the inside of my mouth. I hoped it wouldn’t rub so much once I got downsized again since there was still quite a lot of the bar protruding above my tongue, so the threaded ball rubbed a lot and still felt quite intrusive - although it was nothing compared to the first barbell.

As far as eating went, I could eat perfectly normally from about day 13 except for the ulcers, and the occasional tooth-crunch when I bit the threaded ball by accident. That was something else that I hoped would get better once I got the smaller barbell.

Day 19 – Final downsizing:

I went out at lunch to get the final barbell change from my piercer. I didn’t eat anything before I went because I didn’t want to get food stuck all over the barbell. When I got there my piercer showed me all of the different types of threaded balls I could have. There was a huge range of surgical steel threaded accessories, Plastic threaded accessories, Zircon Gold threaded accessories, Ultra Violet threaded accessories, Titanium threaded accessories and Blackline threaded accessories. I decided to get a clear jewelled ball on the top and a black and white threaded star ball underneath. It was a little bit uncomfortable being clamped again, but I couldn’t feel him taking the bar out or putting the new one in.

My piercer told me to close my mouth, but when I did I couldn’t feel the top threaded ball and I thought it wasn’t finished yet. Then he told me to look in the mirror and I realised I was done, and again I had hardly felt anything. The barbell was so small I couldn’t feel the threaded ball on the roof on my mouth, and I realised how much it had been rubbing before. I was really pleased with how it looked, and it was so much more comfortable!

My tongue piercing looks great now, although there is still a little bit of swelling at the front of the barbell which should disappear over the next couple of weeks, but I can’t feel it at all.

In hindsight I would probably get my tongue pierced all over again, even though I wasn’t ready for how much it would hurt and how long it would hurt for. If you’re thinking of getting it done you should be prepared for a few weeks of pain and inconvenience but, in my opinion, it’s definitely worth it.

Check out the full range of BodyJewelleryShop tongue piercing jewellery for healed tongue piercings!

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