I think anyone in the Modification community is very familiar with this question:
"Didn't that hurt?!?!"
Most of us would agree that the answer, generally, is yes. This was (is) a favorite question of older people and little kids, and was most commonly directed at my now-retired first septum piercing. I was always honest with my resounding yes. The first time my septum was done, it was very painful. The clamps hurt, the needle hurt, the jewelry transfer hurt, and the healing period, though blessedly short, was almost agony if the fresh piercing was bumped. I bled and teared up and swore- a lot. The septum was my first piercing in such a sensitive spot, so I felt at the time that I would never have an interest in going back to it now that it was done. I figured that it was going to stay. How wrong I was.
To give a little background information: my nose is small. My nostrils do not dip up from the bottom of my nose, so there is no 'cavern', only a very small, oval, downwards hole. When my piercer first did my septum, the septum clamp, which is longer than normal clamps, filled the width of my nostrils and then some, forcing him to bend my septum down, to give him room for the needle. Perhaps this is why, when my piercing healed, I immediately noticed that it was slightly crooked, and very shallow. The bottom part of my nose is fleshy, but a quarter of an inch up it becomes much thinner, and I have since decided that the very, very shallow part in there is my sweet spot (confirmed later by the second piercer to work on my septum). The first piercer did not hit this at all. It was probably pierced between 1/4 and 1/2 inch from the bottom of my nose, and 1/2 inch is a stretch. It was around 1/4" down from my sweet spot.
At the time, I was simply happy to have my septum at all, even if 90% of the ring showed and it was nowhere near as deep as I would have liked it. But wearing it flipped up, I quickly discovered, was a problem- a horseshoe ring's gap was not wide enough. My piercing was so shallow that the sheer amount of ring that needed to turn up into my nose, and the small amount of space it had to turn, ensured that there needed to be a wide space between the balls. I always had to bend my jewelry to accommodate the room I needed.
At least it healed quick, and my septum considered in this way for a year. It was always a little cranky, and changing jewelry was either a. very painful, or b. impossible. I just figured this was the way septums were, and dealt with it.
Then, I got my medusa pierced. I (unsurprisingly) have a small space between the bottom of my nose and the top of my lip, and because of how low my septum was, the bead rested exactly where the new medusa was. So, for a couple of months, I wore it up. I disliked the look of the two crammed on top of each other, so I opted to hide my septum until I could figure out what to do with it. I took it down after a month or two of having it flipped up, and immediately realized that there was so much pressure from the (comparably) large ring in my small nose that the piercing was migrating outwards- and there wasn't much nose real estate for it do this before it completely rejected. I opted to remove it.
Still, I missed my septum. I saw a picture, on this very site, of a woman who had her septum stretched to either a 10g or an 8g and wore two tiny rings that hugged her nose tightly, and lusted after having something similar. With this in mind, I went with my friend, getting her septum pierced, to the new piercer in town with a good rep: The Rev, at 717 on Jonestown Road. I had consulted a different piercer at the same studio before I took my septum out, asking what the chances are of him making another hole directly behind my current septum, so I could mimic the 2-ring look sans stretching. He said he did not have the technical know how, but recommended me to the Rev. Fast forward, and he did a fantastic job on my friend, who was Asian and whose nose presented challenges of its own. He pierced her pretty deep, and her healing was quick and easy, so I figured he was worth looking into.
Of course I was now considering getting my septum re-done. The only difference was that now, I was infinitely more educated, and had a clear idea of what I wanted to accomplish. I decided that, now shy of the pain of trying to insert jewelry into a tender- though months-healed- septum, I would try to get it pierced large to start with. While my friend was getting her septum pierced, the Rev made a joke about her wanting a large gauge piercing, so I knew he wasn't shy about doing one. I decided to go in for a consultation.
While I had some spare time to reflect on vacation, I sent him an email detailing my request and arranging for a consult. When I got there, almost the first thing he said was, "You have the smallest fucking nose I've ever seen." After he looked up my nose for a bit, turning my head this way and that, he informed me that my nose was way too small for him to be comfortable piercing very large. There would be little enough room for septum clamps, he explained, and no room at all for a receiving tube, his preferred method. Also, he was very particular about septums, as they were his favorite, and if it wasn't straight he wasn't letting me keep it- and messing around with a large gauge piercing was too much of a risk there. Instead, he would pierce me at a 14g, then help me stretch to a 10g after it healed.
I expressed trepidation because my last experience was so bad, but he seemed confident in his ability to place it well, and adamant in his refusal to pierce large initially, so I reluctantly agreed to go with a 14g. I'm sure I could have found some piercer to do a 10g septum, but I may well have ended up with the same problem as the first time.
So, I made an appointment for a few days later, and set about to wait.
That day, I came in early, and asked him if he had time to pierce me and be done in 30 minutes, as I had physical therapy right after. He said no, and asked me to come back later in the day.
Two hours later, I was right back again. The guy at the front desk said there was a girl waiting, and that the Rev was busy getting his studio cleaned up, so I'd have to wait. I sat down and entertained myself talking to the two girls waiting- they were new, and the one wanted her bellybutton pierced, but was really nervous about the pain and such. We discussed my septum, and soon enough the Rev came out. He called me first, since I had an appointment, and off we went. He decided that, rather than make us wait, he would pierce me in the back where the tattoo chairs and machines were, in view of the front door. This was fine with me- I was not shy about being pierced. We chatted as he set up, then he reached for my nose.
The first thing he discovered was, I apparently have a very crooked septum. It took him a long time to get the clamps on perfect, more time to bend my septum down, and ever more time after that making sure they were where he wanted them. I was expecting this part to hurt, since it was so terrible last time, but I found it very endurable. Don't get me wrong, it was not painless or comfortable, but it wasn't the terrible eye-watering pain from last time. Then he asked me to breathe in and out; he would pierce me on my third breath. I did as he asked, caught sight of the bellybutton girl's white, shocked face, and smiled as he was piercing me.
The first time, the needle was like hot, hot agony. I realize now that it meant that it was being pierced wrong, but this time it was much better. Again, not painless, like some people report, but definitely better. It was nice and quick, then over. His jewelry transfer was painless- I didn't even realize it happened. No blood, no tearing up, nothing. An excellent experience by far.
The first thing I noticed when I checked out my piercing was how deep in my nose it was. He pierced me with a 3/8" CBR, and it was so deep that the ball was resting on the bottom of my nose- something that had never happened before. My medusa was several centimeters below the bottom of the ring, with a clear gap. The barbell wasn't even visible if my nose was casting a shadow down, so well did it fit. I was ecstatic.
That was a month ago, and I am slightly sorry to regret my nose has not completely healed yet. After my quick healing the first time around, I wonder about this- but my septum has definitely been abused, as my grandfather died just days later, and it has endured lots of crying and nose blowing and hugs knocking it around. It is still very sensitive, and pressing the tip of my nose is owie, but I am patient. It is a price I am willing to pay for a piercing that looks how I want it to look.
A few weeks after it heals, I am going to stretch it to a 12g. Rev recommended using pincers, as they can slowly be turned, and they are more aesthetically pleasing than a giant thick ring in my nose (I am needless to say not fond of big septums with CBRs or horseshoes). I expect there will be another story about that, as it is totally new territory to me. Wish me luck!
submitted by: themixtape27
on: 18 Sept. 2010
Artist: The Rev
Studio: 717 Tattoo
Location: Harrisburg, PA (Jonestown Rd. Shop)