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The Cheese Cutter Effect on Piercings: Everything You Need to Know

cheese cutter effect

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Have you ever seen an older woman with pierced lobes? You may have noticed that the piercing holes themselves appear somewhat as slits and it could look like the earring is dragging down and stretching the lobe. This is essentially the cheese cutter effect. The cheese cutter effect will cause your piercing hole to appear like a slit. It is most common with lobe and nostril piercings, but it can occur with any piercing.

What is the Cheese Cutter Effect?

The cheese cutter effect is when your piercing “cuts” through your skin, leaving behind a piercing hole that appears as a large slit. This is similar to migration, but different in appearance. You will likely not notice migration except for the change in location of your jewelry, whereas the cheese cutter effect leaves a slit in its trail. This effect is unlikely to result in rejection, so it is not overly dangerous, just unsightly. This effect most often occurs with lobes and nostril piercings, but it is not uncommon to appear in other places, such as cartilage.

What Causes the Cheese Cutter Effect?

The cheese cutter effect gets its name from an actual cheese cutter. A cheese cutter cuts cheese with a very thin wire. The thicker the wire, the harder it is to cut cheese. This is the same with your body. The cheese cutter effect occurs when you wear too thin a gauge of jewelry. Different parts of your body will need to house different sized jewelry in order to avoid the cheese cutter effect.

The cheese cutter effect can also be caused by jewelry that is too heavy , or jewelry that has too small a diameter. However, these need to be paired with a gauge that is too small in size. A big enough gauge will be able to accommodate heavier jewelry and jewelry that is too small in diameter may also cause migration.

How to Reverse the Cheese Cutter Effect

In order to stop the cheese cutter effect, you will need to increase the gauge of your jewelry. With thicker jewelry, the slit will be filled and will no longer be visible. If your piercing was pierced at too thin of a gauge, you will need to increase the gauge of the piercing before you replace your jewelry. You can visit your piercer for help increasing the gauge of your piercing. Take care not to replace your jewelry with one that is still too small in diameter, because the piercing will likely continue to migrate. You should also avoid heavy jewelry for a while to give your piercing a break to heal.

If it’s been three times your healing process since you were pierced, you can increase your gauge on your own. For example, nostrils take up to 4 months to heal fully. If your nostril was pierced at least 12 months ago, you can safely increase your gauge by yourself. You can do it slowly and safely with PTFE stretching tape. You simply slowly wrap your existing jewelry with the tape. Add another layer of tape every week or so until you’re able to comfortably fit in the next size jewelry. If you ever feel uncomfortable, remove the last layer of tape and wait another week before attempting to increase the size again.

If you prefer the faster method, you can also increase your gauge using tapers. You’ll also need to wait 3 times longer than the healing period, but tapers can increase you to the next gauge immediately. Simply oil up the taper and use it to push out your old jewelry. A taper like this one has a place at the end for you to insert your jewelry so it’s placed automatically once you pull it through. With either method, you’ll need to be sure to use plenty of stretching balm so you don’t feel any uncomfortableness.


If you’ve noticed your piercing hole appears to be stretching and may even look like a slit, you are likely a victim of the cheese cutter effect. This effect is caused by wearing jewelry with too thin a diameter. You can hide the slit caused by the cheese cutter effect and prevent the slit from growing further by gauging up your piercing. To prevent any further issues, you should also avoid heavy jewelry and jewelry that is too small in diameter.