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How to Keep All Your Piercings if You Have Upcoming Surgery

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If you have upcoming surgery, your doctor may have told you to remove all of your jewelry before coming to your appointment. But anyone with piercings knows that even an hour without jewelry in them could mean they close up and you risk permanently losing them. Obviously it’s important to follow doctors orders – so how do you keep all of your piercings and have surgery?

Why Do You Need to Remove Your Piercings For Surgery

There are a few reasons your doctor may need you to remove your jewelry to prepare you for surgery. The most common are:

  1. If you need to go through an MRI, the metal in your jewelry could be ripped out due to the strong magnetic nature of the device.
  2. If the worst were to occur and you’d need life saving care, the electric shocks could heat up the metal in your jewelry and cause bad burns at the piercing location.

Using Glass Retainers During Surgery

You likely noticed above that all of the reasons you cannot have jewelry in for surgery is due to the metal in the jewelry. This means that most of the time, glass retainers will be perfectly safe. You should of course ask your doctor if that would be fine, but most of the time, wearing glass will not cause any issues with any medical procedures.

Glass retainers are available in any gauge and length. If you give your piercer thorough notice before your procedure, they should be able to get any size retainer in stock for you. Your piercer will be more than happy to help swap out all of your jewelry for you and then swap it back after your surgery is finished.

Can Piercings Really Close Up Within An Hour?

Piercings close up depending on how long you’ve had your piercing, the gauge of the piercing and the exact location. A small (16g or smaller) piercing that is less than a year old will almost surely close up within an hour of having no jewelry in it. Nearly all body piercings will close up within a few hours of having no jewelry. No matter the length of your surgery, it is very likely you could lose all of your piercings before you’re able to put your jewelry back in if you don’t swap into retainers beforehand.

What About Emergency Surgery?

Unfortunately, emergencies happen and you are not always able to prepare glass retainers beforehand. In an emergency scenario that may mean doctors could remove your jewelry in a hurry to avoid having the jewelry ripped through your body or causing burns.

For this reason, it’s important to let your emergency contact know if you have any piercings that someone may not be able to see quickly, such as a genital piercing or a dermal piercing in an unusual location. For some of us, that may mean switching your emergency contact from your mom to your sister.

After you regain consciousness, you should put your jewelry in whichever piercings haven’t closed up as soon as you are able. If unfortunately you find that some of your jewelry will not go back in, you should visit your piercer ASAP. It is possible that instead of closing completely, the piercing only shrunk and your piercer could gauge it back up for you before it closes completely to avoid you needing to re-pierce and heal the piercing.


The reason it is important to remove your jewelry before certain medical procedures is because the metal is magnetic and conducts electricity, which could cause significant damage to your body. If you want to keep your piercings, you will need to swap out to glass retainers (with doctor permission) as piercings can close very quickly. If you have found that your piercing has closed up, visiting your piercer as soon as you can, as they may be able to open it back up for you to avoid re-piercing.