How Long Does It Really Take For A Cartilage Piercing To Heal?

Cartilage piercings are back. Although for some, they never went out of style because they're that cool. They look awesome, there's a ton of jewelry out there that can make your boring ol' cartilage look extra exciting, and, well, it's definitely not in the same realm as lobe piercing. In other words, this piercing, also known as a helix piercing, is going to hurt more and take longer to heal (via Insider).

"Pain tolerance varies, but generally your helix will hurt more than your lobes as it is less fleshy," piercer Shannon Freed tells Glamour. "Healing is subjective and is dependent on factors such as your overall health, sleep and stress levels, and your aftercare regimen." But when it comes to trends and being en vogue, does it really matter if it hurts and takes forever to heal? Probably not. So, if you're thinking about jumping on the cartilage (helix) piercing wagon, here's what you need to know about healing time.

Know that aftercare is essential

Like any body modification, the more diligent you are with the aftercare of your piercing, the quicker it will heal and the less likely you are to get an infection.  "My top tip is to drink loads of water for three days after and just leave it the 'eff alone," Body Electric Tattoo ear piercer Brian Keith Thompson tells Elle. "Clean it with soap and water twice a day. Absolutely NO alcohol or peroxide-based products. You've just put a hole in your ear, adding harsh chemicals to something your body is trying to heal is only going to make it worse ... And no playing with it. Constantly twisting the earring will slow down the healing process."

Thompson also says that when you do get that initial piercing, you want high-end metal. The cheap stuff is just an infection waiting to happen. Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid sleeping on the ear that has just been pierced (via Authority Tattoo). Although, as anyone who has had a cartilage piercing will tell you, if you do roll onto it in the middle of the night, you'll wake up immediately.

What you can expect of healing time

First of all, there's no definitive timeline as to exactly how long it will take for a cartilage piercing to heal because overall health, as well as aftercare, are part of the healing process. Someone can heal in a few months, while others can take several months. "Cartilage is not very vascular tissue and because blood flow is an integral part of the healing process the healing time takes a bit longer," professional piercer Ashley of Venus by Maria Tash tells Bustle. "This does not mean that it hurts for the entirety of that time; usually, if the piercing is bumped or snagged during that period, that will feel uncomfortable but otherwise the piercing typically feels healed around the three-month mark."

But, again, because there are many factors that can contribute to the healing process, although it might feel healed around three months after the piercing, it could take up to 12 months — that's right, a full year! — to be completely healed (via WebMD). As much as helix piercings are trendy and very fashionable, if you're not ready for the bit of commitment it takes to keep them clean and basically baby your ear for a couple of months, then maybe stick to other types of piercings. Or you can always get a fake cartilage piercing by purchasing a ring that just clips onto your upper ear. You'll look just as cool as everyone else, but you'll get to avoid the upkeep and waking up every night because you accidentally rolled onto it.