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Septum piercings are known for being an edgy nose piercing choice, but they’ve gained a more mellow reputation recently. Whatever your aesthetic, getting a septum piercing is a great way to express your style and show off cool jewelry—that’s why you can see them on celebrities like Zoe Kravitz and FKA Twigs.
If you decide to take a septum piercing out, there won’t be much of a trace left, so it’s a great idea if you’re interested in removing it down the line. However, a septum piercing is such a unique and cool piercing idea that you won’t ever want to remove it. Here’s everything you need to know about the nose piercing.
Meet the Expert
Placement: The cartilage that separates the individual nostrils — aka the septum
Pricing: $40-$90, though it varies by studio and piercer
Pain level: “I would rate [it] a five,” says Sue
Healing time: three-to-four months
Aftercare: Wash your piercing twice daily with saline solution and be careful not to snag it on anything
What is a Septum Piercing?
A septum piercing is where a piece of jewelry is inserted through the thin wall of cartilage that separates your left and right nostrils. This is typically done with a sterile, single-use needle. First, your piercer will mark the “sweet spot” (where the actual piercing will occur). Then, your piercer will hold the cartilage in place with either septum forceps, a receiving tube, or nothing (also called freehand). The needle is then inserted using a taper, and the jewelry is threaded through and secured.
Keep in mind that septum piercings work with the shape of your nose, and everyone's is unique, so it’s important to find a piercer who is experienced and will be able to complement your anatomy.
“[It’s] more precise from the perspective of a piercer in terms of needing to get the anatomic location right,” says board-certified dermatologist Ranella Hirsch. “Make sure you choose someone who knows what they are doing and have done [it] before.”
Pain and Healing Time
Everyone has a different pain threshold, so how much getting a septum piercing will hurt for you tends to vary from person to person. However, it’s usually not too painful when performed properly and no more painful than any other nostril piercing.
“Normally your eyes water and [you] sometimes feel the urge to sneeze right after you are pierced,” says Sami Sue, a piercer at Pleasure in Pain Tattoo in Taunton, MA. “But ultimately, the piercing pain should not be too uncomfortable.”
You can expect to take diligent care of your piercing until around three or four months after getting it. It’s generally a pretty easy process, but be sure to keep in mind that climate can affect healing time, as well as how well you keep up with your aftercare, so healing time may vary. For safety, Outland likes to tell her clients to consider it a new piercing for as long as they can — as in, follow proper aftercare and be careful in general — to be sure that it’s safely and correctly healed.
Cost of a Septum Piercing
Although there’s no set price for a septum piercing, you can expect to spend between $40 and $100 for a high-quality, well-done piercing—factors like shop location, piercer, and jewelry.
“Pricing varies greatly from city to city, and shop to shop,” says Outland. “But, I will say, if someone is offering a fifteen dollar piercing including jewelry, steer clear. You won’t be getting the quality jewelry your body deserves to line you up for the best possible experience.”
The aftercare for a septum piercing is pretty simple, says Outland. Most piercers recommend a saline solution to clean it, though Hirsch also suggests using antibacterial soup. Regardless of what you use, make sure you clean the piercing site twice a day until it’s fully healed.
Proper aftercare also includes being careful with your new piercing. Be careful not to wear any clothing that could snag on your septum ring so as not to pull at and irritate it. Also, avoid playing with it or touching it in general, as it could cause it to take longer to heal. Hirsch also says not to change your jewelry until you’re instructed to by your piercer.
“Your body is already an excellent healer, so the saline is just to clean the ‘crusties’ and buildup off the jewelry itself,” says Outland.
Side Effects of Piercing
Infection: Infection occurs in a piercing if you fail to follow the proper aftercare procedure outlined by your piercer. If you’re worried you may have an infection in your spetum piercing, keep an eye out for an increase in pain, redness, or size post-piercing. “If the piercing seems excessively swollen, check back with your piercer and get their thoughts, or visit a doctor if that seems necessary,” says Outland.
Migration: Migration is when your piercing moves from its original spot, which could happen if you don’t follow proper aftercare. Make sure to catch it as soon as you can and contact your piercer, as it could lead to an infection.
Scarring: If you don’t take proper care of your septum piercing during the healing process, or if you irritate or tug at it, you run the risk of leaving a scar. You will also be left with scarring if you remove the piercing for good or if you get an infection during healing.
How to Change Out a Septum Piercing
“You absolutely can change out your own septum piercing if you feel comfortable,” says Outland. “While the healing time is around four months, I usually don’t suggest trying to change it on your own until about a year or so.”
To change out your piercing on your own (after it has fully healed), unscrew the ball or bend your hoop away from the septum before slowly removing the jewelry from the piercing site. After removal, be sure to clean the area with a bit of saline solution. Then, slide the new, sterilized jewelry through the septum piercing site and secure it in place.
If you’re having a hard time changing out your jewelry or don’t want to do it yourself, your piercer can do it for you, though be warned it will be for a small fee. Plus, if you visit a piercer, you’ll most likely be limited in jewelry selection.
“Keep in mind, some piercers would be willing to change, but some will only use their own jewelry sold their shop due to liability issues [in case] the jewelry you bring in is not good quality,” says Sue. “Call and ask beforehand!”
What Type of Jewelry Is Used for a Septum Piercing?
“A septum piercing should always be completed using either a horseshoe-shaped hoop or a circular hoop, also known as a CBR,” says Sue. “The gauge normally is a 16 or 14g, and the diameter or size of the hoop depends on each person's own personal anatomy.”
Circular Barbell: A standard barbell is a metal bar with a fixed ball on the end that is inserted through a piercing and secured on the other end with an adjustable ball. Septum piercings sometimes use circular barbells, which curve outward to allow for a better fit around the natural shape of your nose.
Ring: Another option for septum jewelry is a ring, one piece of flexible, bent-into-a-ring-shaped metal. This piece is removed by stretching it out and creating a gap between the two ends big enough to slide off. Some people with septum piercings prefer rings called clickers, which have a thin bar that snaps into place, connecting each end of a circular ring.
What Jewelry Material Is Used for a Septum Piercing?
“It is very important that any jewelry is always implant grade. No exceptions!” says Sue. “Stay away from any shop that uses nickel or cheaper quality. Cheaply made jewelry will most definitely lead to infection and could lead to other major issues.”
Surgical steel: Most septum jewelry is made out of surgical steel because of its reputation as the most reliable and high-quality. Don’t get jewelry made of surgical steel, however, if you’re allergic to nickel.
Titanium: Medical-grade titanium is a solid metal choice for jewelry thanks to being almost exactly like steel — except without nickel. That means you’re able to get the same variety of designs without an allergic reaction and with a more lightweight metal.
Gold: If you’d rather stay away from silver jewelry, go for gold! Just be sure that the gold jewelry is at least 14 karats — anything less than that could harbor bacteria that would be bad for your piercing.