The desire to modify our external appearance dates back to ancient times and numerous methods have been used by different cultures. In recent years, more and more people in Western society have decided to get pierced or tattooed. Neither practice is free of complications, and in this article we will review the most important ones.

The piercing is usually done with a needle or catheter and a material such as stainless steel, gold or titanium is usually placed. It should be noted that healing can take weeks to months. The main risk to which the person who decides to have a piercing is exposed is infectious; up to 20% have a local infection, which sometimes occurs, if the causative germ is very aggressive, it can compromise the patient's life.


What you need to know about piercing
Another risk to know about piercing is the transmission of certain viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV), with cases of fatal fulminant hepatitis described immediately after piercing.

Another risk is the transmission of certain viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV), with cases of fatal fulminant hepatitis described immediately after piercing. The other two frequent risks of complication are bleeding and inflammation in the area where the piercing is done, which in some cases (e.g. on the tongue) can be serious. 1 in 3 people who have an ear piercing are known to have had a complication of varying severity. Serious complications occur in two out of 10 people and can lead to partial or complete loss of the pinna.

More frequent and more serious are the possible complications at the level of the tongue; 100 % of patients experience a greater or lesser degree of swelling (this must be taken into account by the piercer in order to leave it loose so that, when the tongue swells, it is not compressed). There are published cases of patients who have died from dyspnoea (asphyxia) due to rapidly progressive tongue swelling or haematoma.
Most patients experience dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) for days or weeks, and transient dysarthria (difficulty articulating speech).

Fewer problems have been described at the level of the nasal lobe, almost all local or general infectious problems, which in 20% of cases have made it necessary to remove the earring, and in less than 5% have produced a scar or deformity that is difficult to repair without surgery. It is known that the site that causes the fewest problems is the classic earlobe.
At the lateral level of the eyebrow a branch of the facial nerve passes through, which on rare occasions is damaged by the piecing, causing an irreversible paralysis of part of the facial musculature; at this level there are also the problems common to all piercings; local or general infections, transmission of diseases, haemorrhages, haematomas and inflammation.
Therefore, given the high rate of complications, even if the piercing is done in a hygienic place and by experienced personnel, the person must be informed of the possible risks involved, and no doctor, however fashionable it may be, can recommend piercing at any level on the head.

Source;Francisco J. García-Purriños
Doctor in Medicine from the University of Salamanca
Specialist in Otorhinolaryngology and Cervico-Facial Pathology

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