Gun Piercing

As a piercer, I’ve always been a huge anti- piercing gun advocate. The main reason stems from the first major incident I ever encountered on my lifelong friend Jaime.

When Jaime was 18 years old, she had her upper helix pierced from a friend who took a “course” on how to use a piercing gun.

Within a week, Jaime had developed an infection so bad she required emergency medical attention. Her doctors said it was “worse than a staph infection” and likely came from residue of someone else’s tissue left over on the gun despite the machine being “disinfected” between uses.

Jaime’s cartilege literally liquefied due to swelling and the infection eating away at it. She had to have an incision sliced down the back of her ear and packed with gauze so the wound could be cleaned and the infection and necrotic tissue could be scraped out.

After the infection was brought under control, Jaime underwent plastic surgery to reconstruct the cartilage. The surgeon had to remove cartilage from her ribs and literally carve out the shape of her ear to rebuild it.

1 & 2 – Jaime’s ear at the height of it’s infected state
3 – Jaime’s other normal ear
4, 5, 6 – Jaime’s ear today after reconstructive surgery.

138 thoughts on “Gun Piercing

  1. That’s horrible. Yet people refuse to learn. People often get gun ‘piercings’ because it’s $6 as opposed to $35 at a piercer. Isn’t $35 better to spend than thousands on medical attention, not to mention all the pain and stress they’ll have to go through!

  2. When I was an ignorant 14 year old, I went to have my cartilage pierced with a piercing gun. Thankfully, I was told I couldn’t because someone smart in Nevada made it illegal to pierce cartilage with a piercing gun, and I was saved the trauma. Why isn’t there a national law against it?

  3. Once upon a time I was that naive and actually had a cartlidge piercing done with a gun. I have never experience as much pain as I did with that. It’s foolish to think that the two types of piercing are the same. At places like Claire’s at the mall or say your local Walmart, I have yet to see anyone sterilze the gun before use let alone after. You get what you pay for.

  4. Wow. That’s very sad. Don’t get pierced with a gun.

    However, it should be noted that the BZK cleaning solution sold at the places that do gun piercings can be to blame for wicked infections, too. That may not have come from the gun or the jewelry.

    Pseudomonas. Google it.

  5. last weekend my friends and i were walking around at the mall. over the kiosk that sold “quality body jewelry,” i noticed a big sign that had something like “we pierce here” or “body piercing,” something like that. the picture on the sign was of a girl’s pierced navel. maybe they pierce navels with guns there too?


  6. Fucking piercing guns man. Goddamn.

    ..So, Shannon, when were you gonna tell us about clerks?? Shauncey and I went and saw it tonight, and I immediately started laughing when you popped up. ..And “Ear guy,” eh? I like that, haha.

  7. I’ve met someone that had a similar cartilage infection, although not to this degree. She got her’s done at a very reputable shop though; it was probably post-piercing issue. Anyway, when I spoke with her last, she said that it had been several years and her doctors still weren’t sure that they’d completely killed the infection. From what she says, cartilage infections are horrible to kill, due to low blood flow to the area (and hence, low flow of antibiotics). She now has a section of her ear that’s all floppy because they had to take cartilage out.
    Scary stuff. Thankfully complications like this are super-rare when you go to a reputable and clean studio.

  8. that is pretty unfortunate but at the same time, it not only comes down to the “piercer” and the unclean piercing gun, but a number of other unfortunate circumstances. what was she cleaning it with? did she take it out as soon as an infection occured and block the drainage holes causing an abcess? what stopped her from seeking help earlier rather than waiting a week before further action, as i doubt it just blew up like that on the 7th day?… now don’t get me wrong, i am not in anyway condoning the piercing gun or blaming poor Jaime… quite the contrary…. what i am trying to say here is, where is people’s common sense these days? guns should not be legal, full stop, people should do their research before getting pierced, and people should undergo asepsis and cross contamination courses before they are even allowed to stick holes in peoples bodies.

  9. Thank you for this entry Lexci, really.

    I had my cartilage done with a gun when I was 13 and it took 3 years to heal, along with lots of pain and frustration.

    I had my industrial done properly at a studio and it healed in less than a year, and it was smooth sailing since then.

    I’m so glad I was spared the worst scenerio.

  10. Aww poor girl. I must say that is quite a graphic description – I think if one was to stand outside Claire’s or somewhere similar brandishing leaflets displaying that kind of thing people would soon rather not get pierced with a gun… Even if you are scared of needles, it’s not worth it. People need educating big time.

    Saying that – I think I must have been quite lucky. I got my helix pierced (not quite the right word maybe?) with a gun and it never settled down over the course of a year so I just took it out. It has only left a tiny scar.

  11. heh, oh man i totally have a cartalage gun story…
    it involved a lot of my blood on a mall employee’s arm.

  12. May as well add my story to the fray… :)

    When I was 17 I got the middle of my ear pierced with a gun. (The middle=the bit between the lobe and the top of the ear, kind of where the cartilege begins to form.) Anyway, a couple of hours later my ear swelled up to about 3 times its normal size. I took the piercing out, went to the Doctor, only to have him tell me I should have left the stud in to drain out the infection.

    He basically said that after a dose of antibiotics, everything would return to normal. 10 years on and the infection still flares up occasionally. And not just in my ear. Sometimes I get infections in closed injuries, and the only possible source would be that original infection.

    The ear still is slightly bigger and redder than the other, though you need to be told the story before noticing it, so I guess it’s not that bad.


  13. I had four holes in each ear done with guns when I was young, over a span of several years.

    Each was excruciating, each got massively infected before finally healing up. None were cartilage piercings. Anyway, I kept on in spite of the horrendous pain and infections because I wanted the piercings so bad even then.

    I still get closed pustules in my ears every so often, years later, even after taking out all eight pieces of jewelry and letting the holes heal as well as they could. I get a bump about half the size of a dime in diameter, it swells up, and finally I can’t stand it and burst it and out comes a shower of zit-like material and blood. That never happened before my gun piercings. It is horrendous. It happens on the lobe, behind the lobe where it connects with the back of my head, up near the cartilage… just about anywhere.

    It took me years of caring for my ears after removing the earrings before finally getting the guts to get 4ga holes done correctly (after numerous other successful and professional piercings done perfectly). I was shocked at the difference in pain level. With a gun= excruciating. With a needle= didn’t feel it. No infections and they healed in a few weeks. A world of difference.

    Guns ought to be banned nationally, people ought to be shot for letting their kids get pierced with them in shops where the “piercer” is a sixteen year old with no clue.


  14. i had my lobes ‘pierced’ 6 times with a gun, starting when i was about 6 years old. they always infected because i was alergic to the earrings. i finally gave up when was 10, and just when I was 16 did i pierce the lobes again but this time with a needle. and now they’re stretched and haven’t given me any complications at all.
    and a girl that i knew had her tragus pierced with a gun! i can’t even imagine the pain!!

  15. when i was 12 i had my cartilage pierced at the mall with a gun. it might have actually healed if the lady hadn’t pierced it upwards, (i.e. the backing of the earing was on the topof my ear and the little diamond stud was facing down). but things got worse when the hairdresser snagged it with a brush at least 5 times in one sitting, and it never really got better after that, so i ended up removing it anyway. i’m lucky as hell it didn’t turn out like hers.

  16. It’s actually been illegal in NSW Australia to pierce anything but ear-lobes for ~12 years now (our ‘Skin Penetration Act’ of 1994).

    We actually have an ear-piercing gun in our studio and use it occasionally, for younger children and ONLY ear-lobes. I agree that they are not the best thing in the world, however in my area there is a large demand for young children’s ear piercings. We don’t pierce a child unless they understand what they are doing and are able to actually ask for it.

    Most parent’s do not want their children to be pierced with a needle, even after being explained the obvious advantages of it. They nearly always go to the local mall ‘piercers’ or dodgey chemists to get it done, that don’t wear gloves or clean jewellery/equipment.

    I honestly feel a little worried going near such a young child with a sharp needle that close to their neck. I know the chance of needle stick is minimal, if done correctly. and I am aware that guns are teh evol.

    But honestly, I would rather a trained body piercer, who cleans the equipment properly after each use and uses sterile single-use components (all the bits that touch skin and the 316L surgical steel studs) to be doing even simple ear-lobe piercings than a pimply 15 year old girl who has NO idea of correct placement let alone cross contamination and the concept of sterile.

    Oh yeah, and nose piercings with such ‘guns’ is the most fucked up shit I have ever seen. SO many near by places still do this, even advertising with large banners doing so. I honestly fix at least a couple a week that have nearly totally been immersed into their nostril. Fucking goopy.

  17. One of the girls at Claire’s at the mall by me has her tragus done with an earring stud thing. Now maybe she went to a piercer and it’s all healed and she’s just *wearing* a post … but my money’s on them doing it there. And all I have to say is OWWW.

    I got my helix done twice at Claire’s – this was before knowing about the evils of guns and the advantages of shops. One was just fine, and the other, as someone said above, never did settle down, so I took it out. It’s healed pretty decently since then. I’m a lucky one.

  18. It’s funny how people who do piercings at claire’s take them time to clean your ears, but not to clean the gun or their own hands.

  19. I have no idea if this is related to being pierced with a gun, but when I was 11 my lobes were pierced with a gun (and my lobes felt really really hot right after) and to this day, my ears haven’t healed right.

  20. I didn’t have time to read all the comments but..

    CMON!! There is NO WAY this person had no idea something bad was going to happen once even the smallest of bumps appeared. What did her parents or friends say? “Wait a while”??? THIS is what makes the piercing community so taboo amongst an older generation. Just look at that wound! We look like a bunch of massacre-ing fools.

    If I were a piercer and saw that girl come in, i’d turn her right around. OBVIOUSLY she has NO idea how or what to do with a piercing.

  21. Poor woman, I feel her pain. I got my cartilage pierced also, was with a needle but i kept rolling on my side while sleeping. Damn thing got so badly infected, I went up to the pharmacy and showed them it. My ear was all red and quite swollen and around the jewellery it was all very very crusty. They gave me anti septic spirits (i know its not the best for piercings) and told me to use it diluted on my ear.
    Longish story shorter :) … within a few days i saw a marked improvement. All was fine

    Oh yeah well done on 1st post Lexci! :)

  22. Sweet mother. I’ve done countless cartilage piercings with needles only, of course, and never seen this severity of infection. I have managed some that appeared this bad but saved the cartilage because we hit the antibiotics early. I’ve also been known to open the ear from the back and wash the cartilage with dilute antibiotics to save it. That can work really well, actually. Saving the cartilage takes early action and a lot of attentiveness on the part of both the pierced and their physician.

    I’m glad that her cosmetic results are as good as they were considering the circumstances.

  23. Yikes.

    All three of my piercings (I’m much more interested in tattoos) were done with a piercing gun; the first two were when I was nine, and it was my mother’s decision, and for the third I was in my teens, but it was another lobe piercing and I didn’t know any better. :/ Luckily, I had no problems with any of them, because for the first set, my mother was very, very militant about taking proper care of them, and I was equally careful for the third.

    Two of my younger sisters had their navel pierced with a gun, which of course both eventually rejected. The younger one went and had her navel re-pierced properly, though.

    My youngest sister, who’s just nine, has benefited from having older sisters. She just recently had her ears pierced with a needle, rather than a gun. Our mother was horrified by the idea, but I and another sister gave her all the reasons we knew needles were better; the little brat was completely unbothered, and she has a story slightly different from any of her friends who have pierced ears.

  24. I got my nose pierced with a gun by a hells angel kinda guy when I was 15 or so. Thank god I didn’t have to restore my nose with rib catilage, I now realize how lucky I am.

  25. Ack! That just gives me all the more reason to take my step-son and any future child I have to a studio and not to the mall!

  26. I’ve had a total of seven piercings done with a gun; all of which I now regret. Six were in my lobes and the seventh was in my cartilege.

    I will never forget the horrible, nauseating sound the post made going through the tough tissue of my upper ear.

    That piercing ended up getting rather infected, too, to the point where my skin had taken on a rather greenish hue. Granted, like most others here, this was before I really knew anything about piercings… I did what they had told me to and was cleaning it regularly with rubbing alcohol.

    All but my first pair of lobe piercings have since been abandoned. The remaining pair I am trying to stretch and I’m having a lot of trouble with it due to all the scar tissue left by the post tearing through my ear. I’m considering getting dermal punches done.

    I can’t believe piercing guns are still legal. More people need to see pictures like these and be educated.

  27. damn. that really sucks. i got my cartilage done with a pericing gun at claries..never hurt or anything. then about a month into it i got a lil bubble on the hole. i cleaned the shit out of my cartilage with that ear care stuff they give you and now so far its fine. my ear never really hurts but, i want to take the ear ring out and put a different one in, its just i can’t get the back of ear ring off worth anything. even my friends tried. scary stuff. i guess i’m kind of lucky though i haven’t got an wicked infections….yet. after reading and seeing those pics i’m taking mine out a stat. i’ve been wanting to put in a lil tiny bar bell anyways.

  28. OMG,I’ve never seen an infection of the ear that bad!

    I tried to get my mother to let a professional ear piercer to do my ears at 12 and then tried to persuade her to let my sister get her ears done a professional place,but alas that never happened.I’m just glad that I made sure my sister cleaned her ears because I got my cartilage done TWICE and got infection-I got her flimsy gold earrings switched out for something better.

    I know that a lot of parents refuse to go to piercing shops because some see the people there as being untrustworthy,and they fear that if they go there their kids might come out with something other than what they signed for…Yeah,I still haven’t fully understood that thought because I’d hope that as a parent you’d do research yourself but,oh well.

  29. Now I realize why you have this fascination for draining so many things(pimples, abscesses,etc)

    Friends don’t let friends pierce with guns!

  30. The same thing happened to my cousin… she had to do the whole plastic surgery thing as well…

  31. Oh goodness, that’s horrible! It looks soo painful!!!!! Makes me realize how lucky I am. Years ago I got my cartilege pierced at camp. You see, there was a trip to town one weekend and the camp called and warned all the shops that pierced ears not to let any of us come away with any more holes than we went there with. So my friend and I had to find the seediest place there (which was the only one there that would do it). I remember she kept asking him “it’s clean right?” and he pretended not to hear her as he talked to his friend getting the gun ready. We both went away with new cartilege piercings that pretty much healed without incident. This is a shocker because camp isn’t exactly a clean place and we had to go to the nurse for peroxide or alcohol and neosporin *shudders*, then as soon as I got back from camp I went to Greece and was outside in the sand and very hot weather all day. The only problem I have had with it is a placement issue, it kinda pinches if anything but a hoop is in. So yeah, I’m surprized I still have an ear knowing what I know now.

  32. well i have to disagree with most of you- i’ve had my upper helix pierced 3 times, since i was in high school- & i’m 35 now. i had mine before piercers were really common & before the mall stores were doing it. i kept the orginal “studs” in for years, cleaning often. now i have 18g captives in & have no issues, nor have i ever. i know, i may be the exception, but i was doing this before some of you guys were born!piercing guns are fine for lobes, but yes, i fully agree, anything else should be done by the pros!

  33. RE:LeaveThePoliticsToMadmen

    I can’t speak for the person in the pictures, but in my case, my ear swelled up so fast I had no real clue to what was happening until the swelling engulfed my stud. I’d had swelling before with gun piercings so I thought all was normal until too late…

  34. Of course the majority of gunned ear piercings turn out just fine. That said, the majority of drunk drivers make it home without hurting anyone…

    Anyway, cartilage infections are explosively fast because of the construction of the tissue. See also: ear collapse

  35. My boyfriend was recently in the hospital, and while I was there visiting him there was a girl in the next room who had gotten her ears pierced with a gun (I couldn’t tell if it was her cartilage or lobe) and I swear, her ear had swollen up at least 3x it’s size. I don’t think anyone there knew what to do, they’d tried to drain it and everything but it was not going down.
    I never got to find out how things worked out for her, but my heart goes out to her. She was so young, I bet she had no idea that that could have happened.

  36. missy – “i know, i may be the exception, but i was doing this before some of you guys were born!piercing guns are fine for lobes, but yes, i fully agree, anything else should be done by the pros!” It’s not necessarily that you are the exception, many people have them turn out totally fine. As for guns being OK for lobes, I have to disagree there. While it is better to have a pro use a gun (like joeltron mentioned above) than some girl in high school working at Claire’s, there is still more trauma to the ear. This can cause increased irritation and make it harder to stretch later.

    sarah – Rubbing alcohol is horrible for fresh piercings. I have never heard of it turning ears green, but it can be pretty nasty stuff.
    “Why a Needle Piercing is Superior to a Gun Piercing” By Lish Daelnar.

  37. Now that looks painful! I had a celluits infection that looked like that, but it didn’t get that bad, AND it was done with a needle by an APP piercer, and I cleaned it properly. They had to slice into my ear and gave me morphine for the pain. While my ear looks different than the other one, it’s really not that bad.

  38. The thing that pisses me off most is that almost every time there is a serious complication with ear GUN piercing, it almost never makes the news, but with needle piercing, it almost always does…. which gives the public a false (and dangerous) impression of what’s safe and what’s not in relative terms.

  39. Recently, I went and got my ear pierced at my mall. Yes, I stupidly got it done with a gun. I had already gotten my ears pierced 5 times, each time with a gun, and nothing bad had ever happened. Well, I went to get the middle of my ear done, between the lobe and the top, on the side. I watched the lady clean everything pretty good and set the gun up. When she actually pierced my ear, it hurt, but I was expecting that. But then the back of the earring flew out and I actually caught it in my hand. What happened was that when the back flew out, the earring pierced the plastic part of the little box thing that the earring is put into. So the lady told me about a thousand times “you’ll be ok, it’s ok” as she’s frantically pulling on the damn earring. At one point she actually had me hold the gun up while it’s still on my ear. She finally got the gun off but the little yellow box was still attached. She called the woman who knew what she was doing from the other shop and she came and helped get the thing off. I’m telling you, it hurt SOO bad cause they kept pulling on it! They cleaned it a lot though afterwords and it’s been fine. Never really hurt much unless I hit it. I guess I was lucky but I’ll never get pierced with a gun again.

  40. I find it neat to see the timeline on those pictures..

    The first two pictures with the infection in full force, she either has no lobe piercings or some at a small gauge with no jewelry in…

    Then when you look at the rest of the pictures after she’s healed and had re-constructive surgery, her lobes look like they’re about just a little less than a half inch!

    Obviously she learnt alot during that time period, and hopefully she had her lobes done by a piercer and then streatched them slowly during her cartilage experience.

  41. non ho parole!!

    Nonostante in Italia esista una legge dal 2003 che proibisce l’utilizzo della pistola (ear gun), c’è ancora molta ignoranza a proposito, ed in quanto ai controlli da parte delle istituzioni preposte alla salvaguardia della salute pubblica non ne parliamo… e molte persone si sottopongono ancora a questa pratica poco igenica e sicura!! …ma si sà del resto è più conveniente, per le proprie tasche, farsi bucare con la pistola ….senza pensare alla propria salute!!

  42. That’s actually a good point about the reportage of needle vs gun piercings. I never thought of it that way but it’s true.

    Weirdly enough, though, I’ve had one lobe done with a gun and one with a needle. The gun one had no complications other than it looked (I thought at the time) bloody stupid, but the needle one has left a lump of scar tissue in my ear.

  43. I had my lobes gunned at Claire’s when I was 9 and they got badly infected but not as bad as the girl above thankfully. At the time I didn’t know the infection was due to the bad hygiene associated with guns and I got my lobes gunned again. Wouldn’t go near them now though….ever! Terrible things.

  44. just another side of the story…

    i got my first set of holes done at 6months with a gun, and the second set with a gun at 12. i continued getting gunned piercings in my lobes and cartiledge until i had 17 in total. i now have my first set of lobes at 00g and the second set at 4g. i’ve never had a single infection or problem healing, including the four cartiledge done at one time.

    not that i’m an advocate for gunned piercings (i definatly stopped that noise) but all it took for me regular cleanings and due attention.

  45. LeaveThePoliticsToMadmen :

    I don’t think having stretched ears is synonymous with having learnt a lot.

  46. I agree with aus. I’m not implying this is true of Jaime, or anyone else here, but to alot of people (especially where I live) stretching is “the in thing” alot like navel piercings or certain clothes. It’s not about anything but looks usually (which is fine) and is typically done in the least sanitary and most dangerous ways possible.

  47. When I was 9, my mom took me to Claire’s to have my ears pierced for the first time. Of course, they used a gun. One of my ears ended up swelling so bad that the front of the earring went into my ear. The pain of piercing doesn’t bother me, but when I had doctors trying to get that thing out of my ear without anesthetic… I don’t think anything I’ve ever hurt so much in my life. Once that ear was healed up, I went and got it repierced. My mom thought that the shop was the problem, and not the piercing instrument, so she took me to get it done by a nurse. The three I’ve gotten from here (all lobes) have turned out fine, but once I got older I started reading BME and was not shocked to learn that it was in fact the gun that was responsible for my bad reaction. It’s been the needle ever since.

  48. Whoa…… that’s unreal.

    I must be incrediably fortunate because I got the exact same piercing done with a gun with I was fourteen and I’ve never had any problems with it.

    All of my ear piercings have been done with guns, but most of them are in the lobe whereas only four have them have been in the cartliage, and like I said, no problems.

  49. i had both my cartilage piercings done at claire’s with guns and i’ve been fine. but i never even knew the extent of damage that piercing guns could cause until i saw this. i’ve only heard negative things about needles until now… but wow. i am definitely getting my next piercing done with a needle.

  50. I thought Claire’s didn’t do cartillage piercings, the ones near me, right where they pierce the kids (the shop window) it states that they do not do cartillage piercings. My friend’s just had hers done at Claire’s which means it was gunned. I don’t think I’ll be getting mine there!!!

    I heard that guns are also worse because they pierce it at the same gauge as the earring rather than a guage bigger. Making the hole bigger lets it heal better as it lets air in.

    Now that’s pretty fine and dandy for lobes, Ok it isn’t. 6 years ago I had my lobes done with a gun, one at a time, and it hurt like hell! and for the next week, every night I was in tears because they hurt so much. But they were no problem after they’d healed up.

  51. i was goin 2 get ma upper ear pierced w/ ma friend ….but after readin all these stories i am very afraid ma ear might turn out like dat girlz…i dont want 2 get infected but i still want to do it…ill jus make sure i go 2 a pro….

  52. My sister had this done as well but it ended up costing her her ear. Compared to her ear, this one looks healthy. She after two years of infection, surgery and healing the rebuilt her ear using cartilage from the ear canal of her opposite ear.

  53. wah holy s**t!
    I had the 2 holes in my ear made when I was 9 and 11. I had some trouble with the first holes, but this was probaly because i was didn’t clean as well as I should have..(second holes healed perfectly)…i later went on to pierce third holes with a needle (myself). One of my friends casually mentioned that the back of my lobe was turning blue…luckily for me my moment of stupidity didnt leave with me with any scars or infections…(touchwood)
    i have been considereing getting a helix as you guys from the US call it (i think) or a cartillage piercing to you guys from the UK. I had been reading reviews from Claire’s ear piercing and had just persuaded myself that getting pierced with a gun would be perfectly ok. Many people i have seen and heard have got their helix done with a gun and had no problems. But reading that poor girls experience i am not going to place myself and my ears in that kind of situation! Thank you BME!

  54. i have had my ears done 7 times with a gun now.

    none of them have been infected at all.

    i have 3 in lobes and 1 in top ear.

    top ear is healing ok. you just need to clean it with the right stuff.

    and try not to knock it too much


  55. My mother had her cartilage done with a gun and it was very difficult to heal… it made a huge bubble with pus in it.

    My friend had his cartilage done with a gun and it made the pus bubble thing too, plus it was always painful even after it healed so he ended up taking it out. The same thing happened to one of his lobe piercings.

    I had my cartilage done with a gun ( I was young and didn’t know better) and it had that pus bubble thing too. That piercing stayed very sensitive and delicate for about 5 years.

    Now it makes me angry each time someone says that they will go to the mall to get pierced…

  56. I’ve had 4 ear sets pierced with a gun.

    I had my nose pierced with a gun.

    No problems whatsoever.

    But I know why all piercings should be done with a needle…. or do I?

    Upper naval- keloid
    Lower Naval- Migration
    Both nipples- infection (one so severe I couldn’ get a bra on for 3 weeks)
    Right nipple- rejection
    Verticle hood- well its only been 2 weeks but guarentee somthing will go wrong!

  57. (i’m not advocating pierce guns)Wal-mart use throw away guns new gun each person no risk of left over ear .i have my left ear lobe gunned twice would never gun my cartlidge .my right lobe done with needle hurt less.

  58. “I think if one was to stand outside Claire’s or somewhere similar brandishing leaflets displaying that kind of thing people would soon rather not get pierced with a gun… Even if you are scared of needles, it’s not worth it. People need educating big time.”

    -IAM: spiritedaway

    i think people would still run right by the disgusting photos and pay $15 to get their ears pierced

  59. that happened to a friend of mine, it was really horrible that she had to go through more pain to fix the damage than she paid to drive to the parlor to get a shitty cartilage piercing. this is one reason ill pierce ANYTHING but my ears and i make sure the person is PROFESSIONAL.

  60. Lise Knott: “I’ve had 4 ear sets pierced with a gun.

    I had my nose pierced with a gun.

    No problems whatsoever.

    But I know why all piercings should be done with a needle…. or do I?

    Upper naval- keloid
    Lower Naval- Migration
    Both nipples- infection (one so severe I couldn’ get a bra on for 3 weeks)
    Right nipple- rejection
    Verticle hood- well its only been 2 weeks but guarentee somthing will go wrong! ”

    Ever think it may just be your piercer? Plus, to compare an ear piercing with a lower navel in terms of rejection is slightly unfair.

  61. i got my cartildge done from claries(pericing gun) when i went on vaction its been 6 months and it recently stopped hurting i took it out and now i have a little bump in the back of my ear. i mean i dont know if its infected. i mean no redness just a little bump. do u think i should take it out. i know i might sound stupid but i really dont want this to happen to me.
    i wanted to get my second hole but i just read what peicing guns can do and im reconsidering…
    thanks alot

  62. I bet that operating room was a STINKIN of “smelly-pus-left-in-a-wet-rag-in-an-alley-in-south-philly-for-six-weeks”!!!

    …I just wanna reach out and-a slap it!…bme-HARD stylie~!!

  63. why does everyone hate the gun,
    yes maybe it does use a blunt method to pierce the ear,
    but if you go to the right place and its sterilized properly then there can be no problems,
    I’ve had 2 helix, 1 tragus, 2 lobes all with a gun and no problems,
    my friend has 9 helix piercings going down the ear and not one has gotten infected.
    [to becca]
    that happens alot you get a small bump on the back of the ear, i don’t think that its a infection unless it pusses alot

  64. i just had my cartlidge peirced with a gun and it wasant painfull at all and so far so good so i dont know what all this bs is with guns being bad because i know my stud was sharp as ****

  65. hi i just got my nose peirced with a gun and i have heard rumours its illegal, do u no if this is true and iv had it in for a week and because there is a butterfly clip under it i cant get hte ear stud out of my nose!!! it has become infected and just gross… poor girl!!!

  66. OUCHH…i hope my ear never get big as this!
    cuz i pierced all of t..and i got 7 holez n t…yesterday i took them all off bcuz i guess they r getting efected:S
    i hope i’ll be okay!

  67. I have had 4 piercings by gun and 2 by needle, all on my earlobes … no cartridge. Unfortunately, while leaving my earrings out for a series of MRIs, they have all closed up and I am getting ready to redo them. I bought my own metal piercing gun and my daughter (age 27) is going to have the privilege of shooting dear old mom.

  68. I have my cartilage pierced and it was a little irritated after a campout so I took it out and cleaned it real good and now it’s fine. I think I just got a little bit of dirt in it or something, it never got really painful. But I have a bump in the back and some scar tissue in the front, i dont think it’s a big deal. My ear’s fine. I got it done at the piercing pagoda like 4 months ago. :]

  69. why does everyone hate the gun,
    yes maybe it does use a blunt method to pierce the ear,
    but if you go to the right place and its sterilized properly then there can be no problems,
    I’ve had 2 helix, 1 tragus, 2 lobes all with a gun and no problems,
    my friend has 9 helix piercings going down the ear and not one has gotten infected.
    Posted by annona

    That’s exactly the point–you CAN’T properly sterilize a piercing gun; that’s why it’s dangerous!!

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  71. piercing guns should be band as to menay shops do cartilage pierceing and damage peoples ears i no this because my big sister got the top of her ear done with the gun and when she went to the tattoo shop that i go to. toget the earing removed skull the owner of the brilyant tattoo shop in glenrothes fife scotland he had a hard time geting the old hoop out and puting the new hoop in because he pointed out that the holl was squint so im hop some shops rea this and no how to do it properly so peoples ears whont get damaged from bob fox

  72. Another victim over here.

    Had my first lobe piercing when i was ten-ish done with the gun, i don’t really rememebr much except the gun scaring the life out of me and my ears being sore for a week.

    Got my 2nds done about five/six years back, gun again…Massive infection, i needed hospitalisation and intravenous antibiotics, i’m damn lucky i came away with nothing more than two tiny scars.

    Incidentally the “good” first piercings give me hell, they are very prone to infection.

    Going for my 2nds again soon and i’m headed to a decent place that uses the needle.

    Ps: apologies for poor typing, got a fractured wrist.

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  74. Oh my gosh those piccys are scary…I am going to get my lobes pierced, but all the people who use needles won’t use studs…and all I’m allowed to wear is studs…

  75. I’ve seen the places in malls that pierce navels too, but I don’t know how they do it. My sister went in there looking to get an inverse navel piercing and they only do the top. They just have a sign outside that says something about a private room and it being sterile, if it’s possible for those places to be sterile.

  76. Damn that is horrid, the guns should be out lawed. I don’t go to any place that will use a gun. I always to the same parlor tho.

  77. I have 13 ear piercings. 10 in the lobes and middle ear and 3 in my cartlidge. 10 were done with guns. When i was in forth grade i wanted to be cool and get my cartlidge done and went to claire.s. Needless to say i got a massive infection which ended up leaving my ear misshapen. My other gunned ones have gotten infected but never very badly. I will never let a gun touch my ears ever again! My heart goes out to jamie cause that looks like it was no fun.

  78. Good thing I did some research before getting my cartilage pierced at a retail store! I got 4 earlobe piercings done at Claire’s with a gun, and they came out perfectly fine. No infections ever. But since cartilage piercings are more tricky and prone to infection, I think I’ll just skip it…. maybe I’ll just wear one of those clasp thingys =/ better than molding my ear out of rib cage, that’s for sure..

  79. Wow. That looks painful. Ilve had my cartilage pierced 5 times with a gun, and every single time it got infected, and recently I got my earlobes repierced (3rd hole). That’s doing ok, but hurts a little. I think I am going to change the jewelry. I want to get more piercings, but am scared to death of needles. Can anyone tell me if they hurt.

  80. Had my first lobe piercings done with a gun when i was about 5, second ones done when i was about 13. to this day the second ones still haven’t healed properly, a little bump has formed next to them which is now just part of my ear and no amount of oils/antibiotics is gonna get rid of it. it doesnt look too bad so it doesnt bother me.
    BUT when i wanted to get my nose pierced, my mum insisted that she be with me when it happend, and so i HAD to get it done at the mall since that was the only place my mum was gonna bother going with me too. i was old enough to get pierced myself by then, but meh.. tyrannical parents. anywho, they pierced my nose with a gun. (this was before i knew how rubbish guns were) i remember the pain like anything.. the gun GOT STUCK ON MY NOSE and the lady had to ask another shop assistant to hold the gun whilst she un-stuck it. all the while she was telling me that it’s okay, but the pain was unbelieveable and i was pretty close to passing out.
    its been a year since i’ve had my nose pierced and STILL it hasnt fully healed. i’ve taken care of it, i clean the piercing every other day with antibacerial soap (which i rreeeeaaalllly shouldnt have to do a year on) and still, if i take my nose ring out for more than a few hours, the hole begins to close up.
    i was gonna get my ears pierced a third time, but my mum was insisting i use the local mall again (even after all the info i’ve told her about guns) so i’m not gonna get it done until i move out and do what i want…or maybe i’ll just get them done anyway… same with septum and tragus. meh.

  81. i had my cartlidge pierced with a gun twice when i was 12, i took them out and it’s fine, but my cartlidge is far softer on that ear. i’ve learnt and i’m getting my tragus done tomorrow with a needle. (:

  82. i dont believe that there is a problom with gunz!… this story happened cuz the gun was not sterilized and it waz not done by a proffessinal!……i have had 5 earlobe piercingz with a gun and no problems at all! i am getting my cartilage pierced tommarow at claire’s ! i am hoping dat dis will be fine! wish me luck!!!=)

  83. DAMN! I hate them! I got my cartledge done with it too and it actually ended up cracking it around the piercing and swelled horribly. I’m proud to say I did my 2nd and 3rd holes via needle. $25 per hole, but it’s well worth it! (Also less complications and less healing time!)

  84. That is terrifying. I always knew the dangers of guns, but I went to the mall kiosks anyway because there was only one piercing studio in my area and it was in the very dangerous area of the city. I got my cartilege done with a gun too, it was a horrible experience. Mine were crooked, didn’t heal and got super infected. Not as bad as the photo above. But they were always bleeding and oozing pus. Even after I took them out, there was severe pain and gigantic lumps where the holes were. It’s been years since, but all you can see are tiny bumps now. I will never ever go near a piercing gun again. Actually, what’s scarier: piercing guns at a kiosk, or the self-piercing kits sold at Spencers gifts?

  85. Guns are probably not the best thing to use. I feel sorry for that girl in the picture. I have had several piercings done with a gun and never had any problems but i would still recommened needles.

  86. today i got my ears pierced with a gun and it didnt hurt and im only 10.

  87. I can tell you that my holes ( and I have 8) was made with piercing gun and my ears are great, that girl just use uncleaned piercing gun and thats why she get the infection…
    In every place that I go to made piercing they tell that is a dangeours to made helix with gun and if you look in internet there is many wornings about this. If you’re smart and read … you’ll not do it :) And still I have 2 upper helix and for my luck I don’t have any problems with them :D
    And it doesn’t hurt – at all!
    Made it , but with profesionals , not homework …. If you do it at home – do it right! :)

  88. Holy crap. Never knew about this problem with guns.

    I’ve gotten two cartilage piercings at Claire’s, and I never took proper care of either of them. They’ve been bloody and filled with pus and slightly swollen, I once had a small bump at the spot between my head and ear, and one’s been accidentally yanked by a hairbrush before, and other nasty things, but the first one healed well and the second one, although I got it quite a while ago, is normal now and well on its way to being completely healed.

    I am so freaking lucky. And I was thinking of getting a tragus piercing, but now I’m freaked out. If you get it pierced with a needle, do you go to an actual studio for that type of thing or what?

  89. Thanks. I was about to get my cartilage pierced with a gun on Monday, but after reading your article I’ve decided not to go through with it.

  90. I’m about to go to the doctor’s to get my cartilage pierced. Is that safe? Will they use a needle?

  91. I got my lobe gunned at a studio 2 months ago, no problems at all, didn’t even hurt

  92. I have snakebites (which were done with needles) and 7 ear piercings (all done with guns). Ok it might be proven that guns are bad, BUT mine were all ok, just take good care of them and they’re fine. for me guns are ok, BUT only for ear piercings, plus it’s a bit expensive to get them all done at a piercer… keep up the good work bme!

  93. when i’d h had my ears frist pierced holes done. it was my first time geting them done with an ear piercing gun, and I had both of them pierced three times in each lobe, when I was only 17 teen years old , and since then i’ve ,had my ears pierced with a gun and now i’ve got like 20 holes in each of my ears totaling 40 holes i’ve had done with an ear piercing gun and i’ve had infictions so far now i’am 38 years old , i’am thinking of having some more holes pierced jn boyh my ears with a gun even after reading all those storie , becaue i fill if you clean them right you should have any problomes. rember i’ve been piercced all the way from bottom to tops of my ears with an ear piercing gun .i’am ready to go have more holes pierced know i’ll lit you know how it truns out ok thank you for ear piercing guns i love the way jt allmadily insecerts the earrings into my ears i juess ok i’ll talk to you latter.

  94. This is like a flashback to last year for me, even though the story was published in 2006.
    I had my helix pierced in a shop by the owner, with sterilized tools, the works. And yet a week later my ear looked just like Jaime’s up there. In fact, this was what scared me into going to the ER. I had a minor surgery where they cut down the abscess and physically pushed the pus out, packed it and sent me home. I was on 5 different antibiotics before I had emergency surgery to have the infection and liquefied cartilage removed. I haven’t had the reconstruction done, but if those after shots are after the cartilage reconstruction, I am very glad to know my ear might look normal again.

    I’ve been anti-gun for years, which is why I’m so freaked out that it happened with a needle.

  95. Piercings guns are absolutely terrible. While I’ve never had anything that bad happen as a kid I got my ears pierced seven times with piercing guns. Not only was it painful every time they just healed terribly and where all around a bad idea. Minor infections and just not healing well is common place. Not to mention my lobes are chock full of scartissue. And wile my cartlidge piercing with a gun was pretty problem free the jewelery they used irritated it to no end. It’s gotten better since switching to something good but there’s still a rather large annoying bump on the back. Not to mention the jewelery or should I say blunt object they shove through your flesh is difficult to clean and just collects lymph fluid and blood. Not to mention I know someone who actually had the stud imbed into her ear after getting pierced with a gun as there is no room given for swelling. I can’t even begin to understand the justification that it’s a bit cheaper then going to a professional piercer, afterall you get what you pay for.

  96. I had my ears pierced a week ago with a gun. One ear was fine but the other ear felt bad right away and started swelling. The ear that was ‘fine’ even had a red line running down my ear lobe. But it felt normal and was probably part of the normal healing.

    Within a day or two the ear that felt funny right away started swelling up, and got to be two three times the size it was, it looked like I had someone elses ear. I started taking ibruprofen, giving salt baths three times a day. I stopped using the solution that they gave me. The swelling has gone down, but at one point the earring was inside my ear, so it is more like a wound now. I can see a big red open dent in my ear below the piercing and I’m worried about that getting infected too.

    I dont know why I had a strong reaction right away until reading about guns. I had my ears pierced 15 years ago and I had the same problem, but in both ears.

    They told me to spray with their solution use a cotton bud and turn my ears, which is exactly what I did. Now I just use salt soaks (sea salt) and the swelling has started to go down. Already my earring is no longer inside my ear! I don’t know what to do now though. If I’m going to have more reactions. I am keeping taking ibruprofen and doing salt soaks. It seems a bit much though for just having it pierced about 5 days.

  97. Also I thought it was an infection but really it started so fast, and I haven’t had any weeping, and it doesn’t feel hot. It just swelled up so big, got red and very very sore

  98. I went back to the place where I got the piercing and they said it was the customer care that made the ears bad.

  99. With guns, it’s 50% chance that you will get an infection because guns made of plastic so it cannot be sterilized properly, wiping with alcohol is not enough. Especially if the previous person has diseases, you can get it through piercing with guns. With needles, if the piercer doesn’t use a new needle every time s/he pierce a new customer, you will still get an infection. However, if they practice OSHA ordinances, one needle per customer and sterilizing tools properly, it is much safer than guns. Also, it depends on the piercee to take care of your own ears afterwards; if you keep playing with your freshly pierced ears, there is high chance that you will get infection no matter what you use guns or needles…

  100. i had my friend sara who went through the same thing but saras ear will be permenentaly damaged because they were to late.catlidge gone

  101. I had 8 done with guns before I realized how traumatic they are to your tissues–shock waves and such. 4 healed fine, 3 healed after a LONG time (4+ years), and one never healed properly. I had to take it out and have a nasty scar. My piercer wouldn’t repierce it for about 2 years after I took it out because the swelling still hadn’t gone all the way down.
    Fortunately I got my baby sisters to go to my piercer and they’ve never had a problem. The middle one must have about 15 holes by now.
    I continually extol the virtues of the needle instead of the gun. If we want legislation passed against the guns, though, we have to work on our state law makers. I think there are plenty of people who would sign petitions and lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest they are extremely unhealthy. Fight for what’s right, people!

  102. I have had all six (three on each lobe) of my piercings done at claire’s in my local mall done with a ‘gun’. And I have never had any problem with them. No infections or anything. o.o

  103. I have gotten my cartilage pierced professionally but with a gun, at the time I thought that was the only way it could be done. However, i was lucky with this piercing because i didn’t get infected or anything, it was just fine. that was about 4yrs ago and its still perfectly fine. soon after i got that piercing i got another cartilage piercing done at a different place still with a gun, that one got infected but it wasn’t too bad. i did eventually have to take it out because it was quite painful.

  104. “Professional” and “gun piercing” do not go together. Remember someone said above that the majority of people might not get infected by piercing gun, but it’s the same that the majority of drunk drivers would get home without having an accident. You can’t be proudly say that you don’t have infection even though you used piercing gun, you should count your blessing that you were really lucky that you didn’t get one.

  105. i’ve had 7 piercings done, 6 on my lobes and 1 on my nose….all with a gun….they never hurt one bit….in my country (Malaysia)..its common practice 2 get ears or the nose done with a gun….needles are considered traditional (Indian culture) and has always been assosiated with pain. but then again the traditional methods of needle piercing and the contemporary ones now differ alot. from my experience..and several others, the helix piercing generally becomes inflamed cause the piercing passes thru a vein thats around that area, risks are higher using a gun cuz of the angle of the piercing as compared 2 a needle…i personally dnt see a problem with using guns BUT only 4 the ears and nose…..any other parts should be done with a clean sterile needle by an experienced piercer!


  106. i got my cartiliage shot-pierced. four times. now, one’s swelling up, looking like there’s a soft-bone filled boil under it, and there’s clotted blood and pus coming out when i clean it.
    holy fucking shit.

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  108. im 13 and i did it myself with a gun, it never got infected and i had it for a month :), but poor girl, her ear is all infected, yikes :(

  109. I have 3 ear piercings on both ears and they were all did with a gun….
    Never got infected…

  110. When I got my ears pierced I went to Claire’s . . . I didn’t know of any other place to get them pierced, and I was young so the whole evil guns weren’t in my mind. I thought it was something everyone did when they got their lobes pierced, and did other piercing with needles.

    Well any way. The girl at the Claire’s that I went to wore gloves, cleaned my ears, etc. I was observing everything she was doing, and I didn’t get a sinking feeling at all. My ears came out fine, but I stopped using the ear cleaning stuff that they gave me and just got my own. I would also take my earrings out and dip it in some hydrogen peroxide every other day so that if any germs were on my ears they would be killed. I never got an infection, and if it was because I took the healing process in my own hands, or because the gun was cleaned properly, I don’t know.

    I never knew how unclean and dangerous piercing guns were, and if I knew then I wouldn’t of gotten them done that way. I’m not a clean freak, but I’ve had a wound here and there so I’m used to cleaning, and fixing any infections. Which is why I cleaned my piercing the way I did. . . I had an open wound that needed to heal without getting infected, so I made sure it did.

  111. I had my cartilage pierced once b4 i didnt know you werent supposed to use a gun. ring was pushin through the back of my ear causin a large whole because of the ball on front and almost got infected if my mom wasnt watchin it

  112. whoa, whoa, whoa! take about how to scare a guy to death!!!! i just got my ear pierced by a gun!!! thats so not cool!!! i just prey to god it doesnt get infected…ill be so scared…i didnt have a choice i rather had a piercer pierce it!!! but my mom gave me no coice…omg thats scary….

  113. who really gives a fuck what her ear looks like, did she get a disease as guns can not be sterilized let alone transfering tissue……. crap. that poor poor girl. hope every1 else learns a lesson…

  114. I got my cartilege pierced with a gun when i was 13 or 14 at the beach in SC. It hurt so much and was definitely not worth it, but I was stupid and wanted it then and there. Thank God, nothing happened to my ear but I see what could have been and am so thankful. NEVER get pierced with a gun, no matter what!!

  115. When I was 6 I convinced my mom to let me get my ears pierced for the first time… So we went to the mall and had a clerk in a jewelry store do it with the gun… It took 5 tries in my left ear and 4 tries in my right to get them pierced!… that is the only time I got a piercing with a gun… after that I always had needles!… I have 7 in each ear and have no problems with the holes that were done by needle… But the ones done by the gun get the pimples in the holes and have had several infections in them… NO ONE should ever get pierced with a gun… there are way too many risks… I understand them being used 19 years ago.. but today… there is no excuse!

  116. I really hate piercing guns. Now, they wouldn’t be so bad if they were sterilized, came with proper instructions, were used by someone who even has a clue about cross contamination, and oh yeah, are ONLY used on lobes, never anything else. But even then they’re not the best thing ever.

    I’ve seen real piercers use them. Only on earlobes and only on small children that wouldn’t hold still properly. They had some sort of chemical sterilizing agent….not alcohol….it was green I forget what it was called. I guess the rational there is that parents are afraid of needles, and if the piercer doesn’t do it, some kid at the mall who doesn’t have a clue will. I guess even with guns, at least real piercers know what they’re doing.

    But yeah….when I have kids, no piercing guns, ever. If a piercer I approve of won’t pierce a 6 or 8 year old. My child can wait until they’re old enough.

  117. When I was getting my 3rd lobe redone at Claire’s my mom was in the back of the store. I could have secretly got my cartilage done too cuz I wanted it but I decided not to. My sister says that I should’ve but I don’t regret ANYTHING. If I ever get a cartilage piercing it will be done by a pro~!

  118. my big sister got eight gun peircings on one day .four of them were fine but others swelled .one off her ears had to have surgery on . it was disgusting

  119. Holy shit, are there actually professionals on here admitting they use a gun?
    If I EVER saw that in a shop I’d walk the hell out and never go back.

  120. When I first got my ears percied I had it done with a gun. For one they did it way to close to my face second it got so infected I had to go to the doctor. Often about a month my ear draned all the stuff out (so gross) when I had my second percings done a year later I did it with a needle, didn’t hurt at all and never really had problems

  121. My mother has been working at Claries for almost 30 years now and has pierced with a gun for just as long. She only believes that a gun should really be used for your lodes (2 or 3 depending on your ear size) and hates whenever a teeny bobber comes in demanding a cartilage piercing (when just down th hall is body piercers who will do it right with a needle). However as its her job she has to do it. But there is a bad rap Claries seems to be getting on this post, First off the guns they use are all new unused and taken directly out of the package, and it is against store regulations for any employee to pierce ANYTHING other then the outter rim of your ear. Of course this doent stop ever idiot out there buying a gun and self piercing themselves and others a hundred times. My mom has seen way too many swollen cartilage piercings in her day and she and I both wishe they would create a law baning the stupid things once and for all (mainly cuz shes sick of all the idiots bringing in their screaming children to get a hole punched through their head)

  122. I had both ears pierced at the local fair years and years ago. I remember it was with a gun. Fuckin’ hurt like hell for a week. Thank god I didn’t get infected. My left ear closed up, and I had it repierced with a gun. It closed up again, and as much as I want to start stretching my ears, I don’t think I’ll ever get it repierced, even with a needle. There’s a ton of scar tissue left behind.

    I’ve been talking to my mom about getting a nasal septum piercing, but she wants to drag me down to Walmart.

    Are you kidding me?

    I’ve tried to talk to her about the problems with guns and whatnot, but she insists she had both her ears pierced twice with a gun with no problem. Besides, a septum piercing with a gun? Are you out of your mind?

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