It's funny how trends come and go—whether it's makeup trends like matte lips and glossy lids, or fashion trends like pointy-toed shoes and strappy sandals. The same cyclical trends happen in the world of piercings: Currently, it's the high-lobe piercing that's the look du jour. "It's a fun placement without the commitment of the upper-ear cartilage," luxury piercer Maria Tash tells us. "It's known as 'vertically paired' or the 'stacked-lobe' piercing," she says.
Tash believes the root of the trend actually comes from a place of troubleshooting.
"[It's] a fix for poor placement of traditional lobe piercings that may have been done with an ear-piercing gun, but has really become a popular choice for those that just want something fun." Keep reading for everything you want to know about getting a high-lobe piercing.
Placement: The upper part of the ear lobe, above the placement for a traditional lobe piercing
Pricing: $35-50, plus the cost of the jewelry
Pain Level: 2/10
Healing Time: 8-12 weeks
Aftercare: Use a saline solution on the area twice a day, avoid touching or sleeping on the jewelry until it's healed
What is a High-Lobe Piercing?
A high-lobe piercing sits on the upper part of the earlobe, above the crux where a traditional ear piercing is placed. You might wonder if it's possible to get a high lobe piercing above an existing piercing, or if it's better for the positioning to have both done at the same time. "Definitely," states Tash. "As long as there's the space, we can make it work." The sky is the limit.
High-lobe piercings can work for just about anyone, says Tash. She elaborates: "Anatomy is the biggest factor here. Also, consider space in relation to existing piercings. Some people only have tiny lobes, and it may not be possible."
Pain and Healing Time
A high-lobe piercing should hurt "no more than any other piercing when performed by a professional," Tash explains. "Maybe there's a little discomfort, but it's soon forgotten when you've seen the end result." Because it's in almost the same place as a traditional lobe piercing, it should feel about the same.
"On average, lobe piercings take two to four months to heal," she tells us. As far as piercings go, this is a relatively short amount of time. "Piercings can take up to six weeks to heal, maybe longer depending on the sensitivity of the skin," adds Dr. Paul B. Dean of Skin Resource.MD.
Cost of a High-Lobe Piercing
High-lobe piercings are relatively affordable, but steer clear of a place that wants to charge too little. At Studs, a single piercing is $35 and a double piercing is $50, plus the cost of the jewelry you select, which can run from $35-$300. Other piercing salons may have slightly different pricing, but be wary of anywhere that charges much less.
"Gently cleanse your fresh piercing with a sterile saline during your daily shower. That's all that's needed," says Tash. You can pick up saline solution at your local drugstore or on Amazon. Rebecca Kuhne, a piercer at Studs, concurs: "Do not use anything other than a sterile saline solution for aftercare, and spray the front and back with the solution twice a day during the healing process."
"While we don't encourage clients to sleep on fresh piercings, if you're taking good care of your new piercing, you may not even notice them," Tash adds. "The most important rule is to not touch!" says Dean. "Touching will transmit bacteria to open areas causing an infection."
Dean recommends "warm salt water and a very gentle cleanser" to care for your new piercing. He likes Skin Resource.MD Total Facial Cleansing Gel ($14).
Side Effects of a High-Lobe Piercing
- Swelling and tenderness: "High lobes are fairly easy to heal but like all piercings, you may experience initial swelling, especially within the first couple of weeks," says Kuhne. While a little swelling, pain, and crusting isn't anything to worry about, see a doctor if it persists or gets worse over time.
How to Change Out a High-Lobe Piercing
"It is best to keep original metal in for the first six weeks. After that it can be changed," says Dean. "Jewelry for high lobes is typically internally threaded or push pin," says Kuhne. "For internally threaded pieces the top piece (the stud) screws off. If your jewelry is pushpin, you can twist and pull the stud part off of the labret (the post)."
When in doubt, seek the help of a professional. "Sometimes jewelry changes can be difficult if you are not familiar with piercing jewelry, if this is the case see a local piercer for help!" says Kuhne.
What Type of Jewelry is Used for a High-Lobe Piercing?
- Studs: "Generally, for the upper placement, I'd encourage a stud-style piece of jewelry, but the lower can look great with a stud or ring," Tash recommends. This isn't to cramp your style; it's to minimize tugging on and irritation of the new piercing. High-lobe piercings are especially susceptible to "hair and mask snags," says Kuhne.
- Hoops and Rings: "Once fully healed, a larger-diameter ring could be placed in the upper piercing," says Tash.
What Jewelry Material Is Used for High-Lobe Piercing?
- Stainless steel: Dean says stainless steel is "the absolute best metal to use when you get your initial piercing as well as for when you change it out."
- Titanium: While Kuhne says that the ideal metal will depend on your individual body chemistry, titanium is a pretty safe bet. "All of Studs' jewelry is composed of implant-grade metals; however, if you have any allergies or sensitivities I recommend asking for our titanium options," she says.
- Gold: Finally, gold is an acceptable choice, but you need to be careful. "Be sure to use quality metals to avoid irritation and infection," says Dean. He suggests "white or yellow gold 14k or higher" for a new piercing.