How Does Cartilage Heal? Everything You Need to Know for Your New Piercing December 27, 2019 – Posted in: Informative – Tags: cartilage piercings, healing piercings, nose piercings, piercing aftercare, wound healing
Cartilage and nose piercings are among the most common piercings around today. Both areas offer plenty of spaces for alluring piercing styles, like the high nostril piercing or the daith piercing.
However, cartilage is notoriously difficult to heal. When you pierce your cartilage, it’s important to know that cartilage doesn’t heal quite the same way as other tissue. While fleshier areas will do a good job of healing themselves, cartilage takes its time.
Before you get a new cartilage or nose piercing, you should know the science behind how your cartilage heals so that you can make informed decisions throughout healing. Here’s a beginner’s guide.
What is cartilage?
Briefly, cartilage is connective tissue. There are three types of cartilage in your body: elastic cartilage, fibrocartilage, and hyaline cartilage. The cartilage that you pierce is elastic cartilage.
Unlike the other two cartilage types, elastic cartilage doesn’t bear any load, and it’s much more flexible than other cartilage. Therefore, elastic cartilage rarely sees damage except through a traumatic event. Elastic cartilage is similar to hyaline cartilage (the cartilage found in your joints), but it’s more fibrous, which allows its elasticity.
Elastic cartilage is the type of cartilage in the nose and ear that gets pierced.
Why does cartilage heal so slowly?
When you receive a wound, your body steps into action to start the healing process. The two key components of wound healing are blood flow to the wounded area and cell regeneration.
The veins in the nose and ears are quite small, which limits the blood flow in the area. (This is part of the reason why your ears and nose tend to freeze first in cold weather.) Since elastic cartilage has lower blood flow than other areas of the body, it can’t bring as many healing nutrients to the wounded area, leading to longer healing times.
Additionally, the types of cells that make up cartilage—chondrocytes—contribute to slower healing times. Chondrocyte cells are senescent, meaning that they have difficulty dividing and multiplying, so any damage to elastic cartilage, including your piercing, is going to take a while to heal.
An important defense system that your body has against infection is its blood flow. When you receive a wound, blood is rushed to the area to flush out harmful microbes and bring nutrients that will aid in healing.
Since your ears and nose have low blood flow, this key step won’t happen as successfully as it should. This means that cartilage and nose piercings have a higher risk of infection than other piercing types.
It’s your job to step up to the plate and flush out the harmful microbes since your body can’t.
Spraying your piercing with sterile, isotonic saline 2 – 3 times daily will do wonders for your cartilage piercings. Saline solution is all-natural and only uses ingredients found in your body, so it works with your body to help clear out infectious bacteria.
To avoid infection, it’s your job to help your body flush out harmful bacteria.
In any piercing, proper aftercare is essential, but when healing your cartilage, saline piercing aftercare solution will be one of the only things protecting your new piercing from infection.
Cartilage piercings look amazing, but they’re among the more difficult piercings to heal. If you opt for one of these piercing types, be prepared for a long and vigilant healing process. Once completed, you’ll have a beautiful piercing that you can enjoy for a lifetime.