A friend forwarded me these pictures expressing concern after seeing them in someone else’s portfolio. I’m not going to out the person who did them (in part because it would involve shaming my family’s hometown), because I do agree this is not advisable. Anyone with a cartilage piercing knows how finicky even simple cartilage piercings can be to heal — how slow the process is, and how resistant the tissue can be to allowing a proper fistula to form. Surface piercing on the cartilage increases this risk exponentially, and is asking your body to do something it’s just not evolved to do. Simple rejection is the most likely, although it carries a strong risk of infection and permanent damage to the cartilage and ear structure. I’d urge a quick perusal of the BME wiki entries on Ear Collapse and Cartilage Swelling.
That said, I have seen cartilage surface piercings heal before, so I can’t tell you that it’s impossible. Just risky. For that reason, I would urge that if someone actually does want to insist on having such a piercing done, that they need to be extremely aware of what’s going on with the piercing — personally my feeling is that this is the sort of piercing that should only be done by those with a ton of experience, or better yet, someone who works in the industry so their coworkers can help them clean and keep a close eye on it. Of course I hope the wearers got lucky and these piercings actually healed, but more realistically, I just hope they made it through this experience with a minimum of damage.