By: Steph SimpsonPiercing Migration


Nowadays in modern society, tattoos and body piercings are a common sight, and appear to be growing in popularity every single year. Whereas a few decades ago, having a tattoo or piercing was considered unusual and would put an individual into a minority group, these days they’re far more common and that doesn’t look set to change anytime soon.

As far as piercings are concerned, although very popular and, as many would agree, very attractive, two highly common complications associated with facial and body piercings are: migration and rejection. Here we’ll be looking at piercing migration, as well as rejection, by looking at the main differences between the two, what they are, signs and symptoms of both, plus a look at preventive measures you can take to help reduce the likelihood of you suffering from either complications in the near future. So, without any further hesitation, let’s get started.

What are the differences between piercing migration and rejection? – As mentioned, two of the most common and distinctive complications likely to arise as a result of a body or facial piercing are: Migration and Rejection. A lot of people make the mistake of confusing the two with one another and assume that they’re basically both exactly the same as one another, and although similar, there are a few pretty distinctive differences:

Migration – Piercing Migration can basically be best described as the movement of a piercing, often relatively new, from one location to another. So, if a piercing moves closer to the surface, or if the tissue becomes narrower between the entrance and exit holes, this can be classed as migration. Once it has moved to its new location, it will then heal and settle in its newly acquired spot.

Rejection – Piercing rejection is basically when the body rejects the piercing by forcing it out of your body. Once a piercing is rejected, it’s basically lost for good and unfortunately, having the exact same spot pierced again a few weeks/months later, is far more likely to result in the same outcome. It’s also worth noting that migrated piercings are far more likely to find themselves being rejected in the near future as well.

Why does piercing migration occur? – There are a number of deciding factors involved in why a piercing migration occurs, although the most common reason is simply down to the fact that the piercing wasn’t carried out correctly and/or safely. For example, piercings have to be just the right depth into the body and be located in suitable parts of the body in the first place.

The second most common cause of piercing migration is poor hygiene/aftercare following the piercing. Remember, following a piercing your body will try to heal itself, because it’s literally had a hole stamped in it, so following the correct aftercare protocols and procedures is absolutely essential.

Make sure you keep the piercing clean, you protect it from contaminants, and that you sterilize it regularly using the correct products. Unfortunately, piercing migration may also occur for no valid reason at all, as no piercing is 100% guaranteed to take. You may find that even though the piercing was carried out correctly, as were various aftercare/hygiene steps, your piercing may still migrate and find its way to a new location in your body.

Why does rejection occur? – When your body rejects a piercing, it’s doing so because it is basically recognising your piercing as an injury, and the piece of jewellery itself as a foreign object which could pose a risk to your health and well-being. When this occurs, it will basically heal the piercing just as it would a deep cut, and may try to force the piercing to the surface of your skin and out of your body, in a similar fashion to how it would help you to get rid of a splinter in your finger after sawing wood perhaps?

If you find a piercing getting shallower and notice the actual piece of jewellery under the skin becoming more visible, these are tell-tale signs of the early stages of piercing rejection.

What can be done to reduce the risks? – As mentioned, there is no way of 100% guaranteeing that a piercing will be a success as there is always a risk of migration and rejection. There are however, a few preventative measures you can take to help reduce the risks of having your piercing migrate or be rejected altogether. Some of the more popular examples include:

• Have the piercing carried out by a trained and licensed professional
• Try to ensure that there is around 5/6 inches of tissue between exit and entrance holes
• Always keep an eye out for any changes in the look and feel of the piercing
• Always make sure you use good quality jewellery made from materials which are body-safe
• Make sure you follow all of the aftercare instructions for new piercings carefully
• Make sure you keep your piercings clean and sterile
• If your body does reject a piercing, it’s best to simply retire it altogether
• Try not to remove piercings too frequently
• Select the right sized jewellery
• Don’t over-clean the piercing