We’ve recently been asked about this as there seems to be some confusion between the terms ‘Rejection’ and ‘Migration’ when it comes to a piercing. They are often considered being the same thing; which simply isn’t true. A simple definition of each is that:-
Rejection – Is when your body rejects your piercing by literally pushing it out of your body. A piercing that has been rejected is a lost piercing.
Migration – Is when your piercing moves from its initial placement. You are unlikely to fully lose the piercing but it will heal in this new position.
It is very difficult to pinpoint exactly why your piercing may be migrating or rejecting. There are a number of possible reasons from being that the piercing wasn’t placed deeply enough in the tissue, that the piercing has been poorly cared for, that too harsh an aftercare product has been used, physical trauma to the piercing site (knocking it or tight clothing), jewellery being changed before the piercing is healed and even emotional stress can account for a piercing migrating or being rejected.
Rejection, if it happens, is because your body has seen your jewellery as a foreign object in your body; which it then considers it being a threat to your wellbeing so your body will then simply push the object out through your skin. To avoid the chance of being left with significant scarring it is a good idea to not to let your piercing grow completely out. If you experience rejection it’s best to retire your piercing.
Migration, however, is a much slower process, sometimes taking months. And may only be first noticed when your jewellery’s angle has changed, it has moved closer to the surface or that your tissue has got narrower between the entrance/exit of the piercing. Remember that at this stage your piercing may move only a little, settle and heal and then remain in its new position and not grow out completely.
There are times, however, that even when everything has been done properly, a piercing will migrate or reject for no reason. This is simply one of the risks that can occur when placing a piece of jewellery through your skin; it may not stay in the desired position. Piercings that only break through a small amount of surface skin (surface piercings), those working against the natural shape of your body, or having clothing constantly moving against them are the most likely to be rejected or migrate, and those where there is likely to be less skin to keep the piercing secure. Migration or rejection can also happen to a well established piercings, contrary to belief its not just new piercings that can move or reject.
Re-piercing after Migration or Rejection
Some people are much more prone to rejection, as it is going to depend on how your body responds to having jewellery placed in your body. We, personally, wouldn’t advise that you attempt to re-pierce if your piercing has been rejected, especially if there is scar tissue.
When migration results in the loss of a piercing because you have chosen to retire it, you can sometimes be re-pierced; again this can be dependent on the amount of scar tissue and how the the new piercing will be positioned. The chance of this piercing migrating again is high. After retiring a piercing under problematic circumstances, it is sensible to wait at least year before considering having a re-piercing, and remember that scar tissue is less pliable that non-scarred tissue, but scarring can be reduced with some gentle massage of the area.
If you are looking to have a re-piercing make your piercer aware of what has happened, along with considering what may have caused your piercing to migrate. Your piercer maybe able to advise you on what you could do differently to try and prevent it happen again. And guide you look at an alternative placement if having a new piercing either on the original piercing site or close by it.
If you have decided to retire your piercing that has migrated, remember that sometimes this piercing will remain open and not fully close/heal; but it will always be too shallow to safely support the placement of any jewellery