The Perils of Piercing Guns

The reasons to allow individuals to choose body modifications for themselves as consenting adults, versus pushing them upon children as babies or minors are numerous. Human rights aside, piercing, tattooing, cutting, or altering the healthy body of a non-consenting minor child without medical need and benefit is not without pain and risk -- both immediately and long-term. Helen Houghton of Holier Than Thou, a piercing, tattooing, and body modification specialty venue in Manchester, UK, highlights one case in which these measures (the piercing of a little girl's ears as a young child) carried with it not only the immediate trauma this small child was put through, but the repercussions she faced going forward throughout her development -- even having doctors tell her they could "not help her" or that what she was experiencing was "normal." Houghton writes on Facebook:

Desiree is such a lovely person. She spent the last seventeen years of her life with these gross butterfly backs (pictured above) embedded in the back of her ears! A family member took her to have them pierced when she was three years old, against her will. It was so painful that she had to be taken back the next day to get the other side done. 😔  The blunt force trauma and poor design of the jewelry caused massive swelling and embedding. The front of the earrings were pulled out, but the backs were missing... fallen off, or so they thought. Instead they were trapped inside her ears, and have been festering there ever since. Doctors either said that the lumps were cartilage, or said because it was a "cosmetic issue" they would not be able to help her.

Desiree wants to get her ears pierced properly now that she is an adult and can make these choices for herself, so we were delighted to remove the awful foreign bodies for her, along with as much scarring from the gun piercings as possible. In a few months, her ears will be ready for healthy, happy piercings. 💜

She’s very kindly let us use these photos as an example and warning to others: GUN PIERCINGS ARE DANGEROUS. You cannot sterilise guns (meaning there is a very real risk of infection, including serious diseases like Hepatitis [that can and has killed babies].

In addition, the butterflies have nooks and crannies all over them, which trap body fluids and are very difficult to clean -- meaning the infection risk during healing is massive. The studs are made from poor quality mystery metal with an inferior finish, again meaning allergic reaction and infection risk is high. The studs aren’t long enough to allow for swelling (embedding happens easily), and because they’re blunt and are literally forced through the tissue, it is just blunt force trauma -- which is agony for a baby or child.

Anyone prepared to use a gun will be, respectfully, poorly educated on the topic. No reputable piercer would use a piercing gun, meaning they also likely have limited blood borne pathogen training, and again this puts the client (and any baby or child at the end of the piercing gun) at risk.

Guns also cannot be “aimed” accurately, so piercings are often wonky. FOR EVERY REASON please, please, please don’t ever let anyone near you or your loved ones with a piercing gun. 🙏

Find Holier Than Thou on Facebook

Related Reading: 

One Regret:

Piercing Expert, Matt, on Ear Piercing Babies:

Peaceful Parenting Community:

Her body, her choice. Infant ear piercing is painful, risky, and has no benefits for any baby. Let's allow our children to choose body modifications when they are fully informed and able to consent to alterations made. 

She is just as much your baby girl without body modification. Say NO to infant ear piercing.

More from Matt on Piercing Infants


  1. My parents did mine as an infant. They said the gun got stuck in my ear and the lady just let it hang there. They said it took them 20 minutes to get it off and I screamed the whole time �� and I can't even wear earrings in them because one hole is right by my head and the other is on the outer side of my ear! Way uneven.

  2. My sister, who was 4, got an earring back embedded in her ear after having it done when she was a baby. The hole was technically "healed," but because she was a child, she messed with them all the time, caused an infection, and the back got embedded. I'd NEVER risk that for my baby, and I'll allow them to make this decision for themselves. I've known plenty of girls and women who never got/wanted their ears pierced.

  3. My parents let me get my ears pierced when I was 10. I wish they had made me wait until I was 18 because I was such a vastly different person with such different values between 10 and 18 that I wouldn't have done it. I am 27 and still regret it and I think the holes in my ears are ugly. :(

  4. I wish I had read this 9 yrs ago when I pierced my daughter's ears. She decided to take her own earings out, but the marks will be there forever.

  5. This is why you go to a real piercer to get it done with a needle.

  6. My daughter was crossed at me at 4 when she realized some of her friends had pierced ears. I have said that she can have them done when she is 6. She is six now but has not yet asked for it and I am not going to remind her. I will only do it at a real piercer regardless of age.



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