Migration and rejection are among the most common piercing problems. It’s important to know that all piercings have a risk of migration and rejection. While new piercings have the highest risk, any piercing, even the old, fully healed one, can get migrated or rejected.
In order to understand these common problems and risks, it’s important to know the difference between migration and rejection. In some ways they are similar, but there are some differences you need to know about.
What is Migration?
When your piercing is migrating, it moves from its original placement to a new one. In some cases, migration can be temporary and minimal: your piercing might move a little and then set nicely into its new place. Or it may migrate to an uncomfortable position and settle there.
Most of the time, however, migration is permanent and turns into a rejection. When this type of migration happens, the jewelry typically gets pushed out of the body. It means your body wants to get rid of it and reject it, so it moves it until it’s out.
In practice, it means that the jewelry gets pushed to the surface of the skin while the piercing begins to close. Your body will try to push the jewelry out to the surface of the skin. Most of the time, the body is very successful in doing this, which means that once the rejection has begun, there’s not much you can do to stop the migrating piercing from getting out of the body.
Another bad thing about migration is that it leaves a bad scar tissue. The piercing will start to close, but it won’t do it properly, so the skin will heal with a scar. Sometimes, the piercing in migration will end up in an uncomfortable position that will put an even bigger strain on your tissue.
There are several signs of piercing migration. You might notice that your jewelry is positioned differently or that it hangs more loosely than normal. Also, the hole around the jewelry may appear larger. Chances are that your piercing will be sore and extra sensitive, though this doesn’t happen in all of the cases.
The easiest way to tell that your piercing is migrating to the point of rejection is to notice the jewelry being pushed out. The jewelry will move to the surface of the skin. When migration is well underway, you will be able to see the jewelry under the skin. It’s a clear sign that your piercing is migrating.
At this point, there’s not much you can do. It’s best to remove the jewelry and leave the piercing to close on its own. It’s better to retire a piercing than leave it to push the jewelry out and leave a bad scar tissue. Once the piercing is retired and tissue healed, you can start thinking about repiercing. Most of the time, it will be possible to get a new piercing on the same spot, or close to it, as long as scarring is not big and tissue is not damaged.
What is Rejection?
Rejection is the ultimate migration: your body rejects the piercing and pushes the jewelry out of the body. Rejection happens when your body rejects the jewelry as a foreign body. Keep in mind that our bodies are made to protect us against foreign bodies, so rejection is a natural defense mechanism. It is very valuable but not something you want to experience with your piercing. Still, keep in mind that this is a natural reaction your body makes against foreign bodies.
When a piercing gets rejected, it’s typically because your body recognizes your jewelry as a foreign body and tries to fight against it. The most effective way of fighting against a foreign body is to push it out. At the same time, your body will begin to close the piercing. While all piercings will start to close when jewelry is removed, the difference with rejection is that this process happens while jewelry is inserted. The body perceives piercing as a wound and will try to close it.
Strictly speaking, migration means the piercing and jewelry moving to a new place, while rejection refers to the body rejecting the piercing and pushing the jewelry out. However, it’s important to understand that rejection is the ultimate migration: the jewelry gets pushed out of the body and moved out of it.
It’s important to note that while this process typically happens with new piercings, it can occur any time. Even old, fully healed piercings can get rejected. It means that you should always be careful and pay a close attention to your piercing in order to notice potential rejection. The greatest risk for rejection happens with new piercings during healing, so you should always check your piercing to make sure everything is ok. On the other hand, you should never forget about your old, fully healed piercing because that one can get rejected, too.
How to know your piercing is rejecting? Some people experience pain and tenderness, but for others there are no symptoms. Some people will develop symptoms similar to those of infection while for others it will show no apparent symptoms. In fact, the main symptom of a piercing rejecting is migration – when it gets visibly pushed to the surface of the skin or displaced from its original spot.
Usually, there is nothing you can do to prevent rejection. You need to understand that all piercings carry some risk of rejection. That being said, piercings that are well cared for have a lower risk of rejection so you should always follow the aftercare instructions and keep your piercing clean. Also, make sure to only wear well-crafted, body-friendly jewelry to minimize the risk of rejection.