My poor mangled tongue (botched piercing through frenulum)
I had one of the worst experiences of my life getting my tongue pierced at a supposedly decent shop in the DC area. Not just one of my worst experiences with piercings, but one of the worst experiences of my life, full stop.
I normally go to several excellent piercers Cambridge, MA. I'm no stranger to piercings - I currently have a nostril, industrial, both nipples, two inner labia, and a VCH, but I was in DC and due to work schedules, had to get my tongue there if I was going to get it done. We (my partner and myself) did some investigation and settled on Fatty's as the best option.
A warning bell to start - everything appeared sterile, but she grumbled that it 'wasn't shop policy' to let us see sterilization procedures, etc. in advance. The cost was a relatively pricey $75 total.
She did agree to show us around after the grumbling, but told us that we couldn't see autoclave spore testing results because she didn't have access while the owner was away. After everything next happened - worried that they might not have been telling the truth - we have tried to get the results from the owner, but to no avail. If you go there, ask to see results in advance - it is possible they may not be using proper sterility procedures.
After doing the markings she had me lie down and put on the clamps. The clamps were unusually tight and uncomfortable. Then she did the piercing, no warnings, and it was excruciatingly painful. Now, I've heard a lot about tongue piercings, and in fact my partner has two and my boyfriend has one. So I know that tongue piercings are not usually ridiculously painful. What I experienced was far, far worse than anything I've had previously, including my nipples, which are notorious.
After she was finished and was inserting the jewelry, she fumbled and dropped one of the balls, which almost went down my throat. She tried to root around for it (which didn't exactly help with the pain I was feeling) and then gave up. Fortunately I didn't swallow it, and spit it out when she was done.
After she finished I lay there in incredible pain, not sure what was happening, or why it was so painful. I tried to sit up, but felt very woozy, and had to lie down, at which point I think I passed out briefly. As I came to, I noticed that the pain was mostly on the underside of my tongue, and extended from the exit hole to my saliva glands back to what felt like my lymph nodes. I spent a while curled up on her table, unable to move, sweating profusely and coming in and out of consciousness, and after maybe 15 minutes felt good enough to sit up and look at it again in the mirror again. It was then I saw that it had already swelled so much that the bottom ball had disappeared into my tongue! She had used 7/8'', 12 gauge (my understanding is that 1 inch is better, but I hadn't quibbled) but the hole on the underside was so large and/or the barbell was so short that the ball had been subsumed completely inside my tongue. She said 'hm, haven't seen that happen before' and at this point I freaked and asked her to take it out.
We left with me distraught, and they didn't apologize or even offer to refund us for the piercing. When we went outside and looked more closely at the remaining holes, I discovered that she had pierced it much too far back, right through the frenulum! If you are curious you can see pictures here on BME. This is, as confirmed by my regular piercer, and the placements of all my friends' tongue piercings, very far off from the correct placement, about 1/2cm too far back.
At this point I started worrying because I was unsure whether removing the piercing immediately had put me at a greater risk of infection. My saliva glands were continuing to swell, and my lymph nodes hurt, and I didn't know how bad of signs those were. We called up my regular piercer, who very graciously calmed me down and told me that if I cared for it as a regular tongue piercing it should be ok.
Here's hoping. Now, six days out, the glandular mass under the tongue is still very swollen, and it feels like I'm developing a lot of scar tissue.
Since this incident the shop won't refund me, won't apologize, nothing. I've sent her pictures of my tongue (I left for CA shortly after this happened) , but she insists that 'she doesn't know whose tongue that is.'
I see two general lessons from my experience:
- Avoid Hannah Cherry at Fatty's Custom Tattooz at all costs for a piercing, if you value your body!
- One reason I was willing to get my tongue pierced outside my normal shop is that I reasoned it was a common, hard to screw up piercing, and so long as the shop was clean/sterile not too much could go wrong. Let my experience be a lesson to you that this is not the case; stick with a piercer you know and trust if at all possible. It's a needle, that is going to go through your body - so much can go wrong in the wrong hands.
submitted by: thewhiterabbit11
on: 08 July 2010
in Center Tongue Piercings
Artist: Hannah Cherry
Studio: Fatty's Custom Tattooz
Location: Washington, DC