7 Ways To Close A Piercing Properly With As Little Scarring As Possible

Part of the appeal of body piercings is that they seem like a relatively non-committal form of body art. If you don't like it, you can always take the piercing out, after all. But if you do decide it's time to give up that nose ring, it's important to know how to let a piercing close up properly.

When you get a piercing, you should remember that taking it out and letting it close won't mean that all traces of the piece of metal or plastic once stuck through your skin are gone forever. Take this from someone who took out a cartilage piercing because she decided she was over it (and because it had gotten incredibly irritated, if not infected) and now has a pretty brutal scar on her right earlobe. (Of course, she didn't learn from her mistakes and did the exact same thing with with an unwanted nose piercing and now has a scar on her left nostril.)

When you take out a piercing, there will be scarring, especially if it's one that's fully healed. However, you can still take steps to minimize the amount of scar tissue by thinking a little bit ahead and taking the proper steps. Here are seven things you should know if you're planning on letting a piercing close up.

1. Some Piercings Close Better Than Others

The kind of piercing you have will dictate how well it will close up. Rob Banks, a piercer at Elite Jewelry Co. on Saint Mark's Place in New York City, explains to me in an interview at the shop that bellybutton, eyebrow, and Monroe or lip piercings all leave deep scars, which makes them harder to fully close. Meanwhile, microdermal piercings and piercings on the ear tend to close up a little easier.

2. Think About Scars Before Getting Pierced

When you go in to get a piercing, ask your piercer about what the scar will look like if and when you take it out. One of the best ways to minimize scarring is to place the piercing well. "Go with the folds of the body," Banks explains. If placed well, certain scars will disappear into the nooks and crannies of your skin, making them harder to see. Even eyebrow piercings can be placed near the hairline to minimize the look of scars. The scars from other piercings, like navel rings, however, will be a challenge to hide, no matter how carefully you place it.

3. Don't Remove Your Piercing If It's Infected

The time to close up a hole is not when the piercing is infected. According to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), taking out your jewelry when you have an infection could lead to an abscess and will require medical attention. Wait until any infections have passed before closing up your piercing.

4. Let It Be And Be Patient

If your piercing is fully healed and you're ready to get rid of it, just take it out and let it be, Banks advises. However, there's no way to really know how long it will take to close, or even if it will fully close up. Some piercings, according to the APP, can close up in minutes, even if they've been healed or in place for years.

5. Minimize Scarring With Vitamin E Oil

Once your piercing is closed up, or as closed as it's going to get, you can apply some Vitamin E oil or Mederma to further minimize the appearance of scars. I personally like Bio-Oil Skincare Oil, which I've used to minimize the appearance of bug bite scars to great success.

Mederma Advanced Scar Gel, $11, Amazon; Bio-Oil Skincare Oil, $14, Amazon

6. Stitches Are An Option

Perhaps the most complicated piercings to close up are gauged ears because the skin is so stretched out. Taking out the plugs won't be enough, and you'll likely need to get them stitched up. If you're in the New York City area and want to close up your gauges, Banks recommends Brian Decker at Pure Body Arts.

7. Embrace The Scars

When you take out a piercing, your skin doesn't magically snap back to what it once was, and you may even be left with a hole for the rest of your life. And that's OK. "Sometimes you just have to accept it," says Banks.

Even if the piercing doesn't stay with you forever, the scar will, so make sure you think long and hard about whether you want the scar as much as you want that piercing. If you do want to take a piercing out, though, don't let yourself become ashamed of or embarrassed by the scars. They're totally natural, and they show where you've been. In a way, they're part of your story.

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