Before getting a piercing, one question inevitably runs through your mind: How much is this going to hurt? A Google search will tell you that you're far from alone; that same question, or along the lines of it, has been asked nearly 18 million times before. The age-old inquiry probably hasn't stopped anyone from adding another gold stud to their constellation piercing — but still, we wonder.
Los Angeles-based celebrity piercer Brian Keith Thompson tells us that he gets asked, "Is this going to hurt?" before almost every single appointment — regardless of whether he's working with a piercing virgin or full-body pro, because pain is relative. Similar to the elusive pain factor revolving around tattoos, gauging exactly how uncomfortable it feels to get a piercing isn't possible until that sterilized needle penetrates your skin. Then, just like that, it's over. Within seconds you're checking out your new jewelry, too preoccupied by the result to think about how it actually felt.
Thompson says that a few variables can affect how painful a piercing feels to an individual. "Pain isn't just physical," he says. "It's mental, too. People tend to be more nervous about that split second of discomfort, but don't think about how they're now dealing with five to six months of aftercare." Getting an infection from a new piercing because you didn't follow the post-piercing instructions can be far more uncomfortable than the piercing itself, Thompson stresses. The pro does recommend that clients eat, drink plenty of water, and stay in a good frame of mind before arriving to their appointment. Ultimately, he agrees that there's always the potential for pain, but isn't that sort of why we masochistically puncture holes into our bodies in the first place?
Here's the thing: All piercings will probably sting, maybe bleed, and then throb for a few hours. But if you find a piercer you trust, listen to their aftercare instructions, and treat your new holes with enough TLC people will start thinking it's your pet, then you've got nothing to worry about. But just in case you're still curious exactly how much pain you should expect from a second lobe piercing or barbell in your nipple, read on.