Settling the gun vs. needle piercing debate

Photo by lucysebayworld on Photobucket

Photo from lucysebayworld on Photobucket

The biggest question in the piercing world is which is better: gun or needle? Jewelry stores, such as Claire’s and Icing, use a piercing gun to pierce clients’ ears whereas piercing shops, like HTC Body Piercing, use needles.

The Association of Professional Piercers does not support the use of piercing guns because they can’t be sterilized using APP approved equipment, such as an autoclave. Without proper sterilization, the risk of spreading diseases, such as Hepatitis and staff infections, increases.

Laura Gutierrez has been piercing ears at Claire’s for more than two years and said she uses alcohol wipes to clean the gun before and after each use. She said the earrings are pre-sterilized and pre-packaged, so it is a safe and clean procedure.

“The ear piercing piece fits in our gun,” she said. “The gun never touches the ear.”

However, HTC piercer Mat Corper said there is still risk even if the gun never touches the ear.

“You get microspray where blood can go back on the gun,” he said. “Alcohol doesn’t kill anything, it just removes dirt.”

Piercers at Claire’s have a two week training process, which consists primarily of watching colleagues perform piercings.

The piercers at HTC are required to work at the piercing shop for at least five years before they can pierce someone. They also take classes every year on piercing procedure, wound healing dynamics and many other topics that are provided by the APP.

Abbey Pellino getting her third lobe piercing at HTC

Abbey Pellino getting her third lobe piercing at HTC

According to the APP website, guns force a blunt stud through the lobe or cartilage, which can cause tissue damage and is more painful than a needle. HTC piercers use individually packaged needles to lower the risk of problems and infection.

“The needle is not used for anything else, just for the piercing,” Corper said. “It’s quick and low trauma because the needle is so sharp.”

The bottom line is using a needle is the safest and most sterile way to get an ear piercing.


5 thoughts on “Settling the gun vs. needle piercing debate

  1. This post totally cleared up a lot of my questions about the differences between gun and needle piercings. I have seen both done and even though I fully understand the upside of needles I can’t see how it is superior to the gun. The gun eliminates the need for a needle at all. I still think that by piercing with a gun and using the earring that will be in that person’s war anyway is cleaner and less painful. However, I have only been pierced with a gun so maybe I should try the needle then offer my opinion.

    • It may seem good to eliminate the needle completely by using a gun, but the earring stud that goes through the ear isn’t sharp enough and can cause major tissue damage. A piercing needle is extremely sharp and hollow so it essentially punches a hole in the ear. Instead of separating the tissue, like the earring stud does, the needle removes the tissue and reduces the risk of shattered cartilage, infection, disease, etc.

  2. I only have my ears pierced once and I went to a salon and they did it with a gun. I think it was pretty safe, but after this information I am glad I didn’t contract any kind of disease. I think this needs to be promoted more because parents who get their child’s ears pierced when they are babies generally use a gun. I have a question though, which method is cheaper?

    • The gun method is definitely cheaper, between $20 and $40 depending on the jewelry. Usually the labor is free, all you have to pay for is the earring. However, the quality of the jewelry used by places with piercing guns typically is not very good, which can also cause problems. In terms of tissue damage, guns have been somewhat successful in piercing the lobe because it is made up of softer tissue than cartilage, but you still run the risk of contracting a disease. I got both my lobe piercings done at Claire’s with a gun and had major problems both times. I had to get one ear re-pierced three times before it finally healed properly. I ended up taking my doubles out because they never healed and there is a lot of extra scar tissue built up on my ear. Guns are actually being outlawed in some states because of their health risks. Arizona hasn’t passed any laws, yet.

  3. I got my cartilage pierced with a gun, but I feel like it would have turned out much better if it was done with a needle. I have a friend who is a piercer who told me that cartilage piercings should always be done with a needle.

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