A cheek piercing, sometimes called a dimple piercing, is a piercing on the side of the face, typically right above the side of the mouth where a dimple would naturally indent.

It can also be placed inside an already existing dimple. Because these piercings can be dangerous if not done properly, it’s less common than others.

This article will walk through what you can expect when getting a cheek piercing, the cost, potential side effects, and proper aftercare.

Before you get your cheek pierced, the body piercer will look at your mouth. They’re looking for the parotid ducts, which are responsible for depositing saliva into the mouth.

This is essential because if these glands are damaged in the piercing, they cannot be repaired.

The piercer will mark the placement of the piercing with a marker so you can see what it’ll look like. Then you will likely swish an oral rinse. If you’re worried about the pain, you can ask for a topical anesthetic on your skin.

This type of piercing is usually done with a needle instead of a piercing gun, and can be done from inside or outside the mouth. If it’s done from the outside, the piercer may have you put a cork or other barrier into your mouth so that the needle doesn’t damage your tongue or gum.

In some cases, the piercing will be done with a threaded needle so that the jewelry can immediately go into the hole in one motion.

The pain you feel will depend on your tolerance. The cheek has no cartilage (connective tissue), so it’s likely to hurt less than a cartilage-dense place like the upper ear or the nose.

There will be swelling associated with the piercing, and you may taste or see blood, which should clear on its own as the piercing heals.

The price of cheek piercing ranges widely, depending on the quality of the jewelry and where you get your piercing done. It will generally fall somewhere between $40 and $100. Keep in mind, if a price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You want to make sure that your body piercer is highly skilled and has performed a cheek piercing before. You should ask to see photos of their work, especially images of healed dimple piercings. You can also ask to see their specialty body piercing license. Know your state regulations for licensing the piercer.

The price will also vary depending on if you’re getting one or both cheeks pierced, though many people opt for both.

Cheek piercings are risky because they are so close to the parotid gland. A skilled and trained piercer will know to avoid the duct, but accidents can still happen.

Other side effects of getting a cheek piercing are also possible.

With cheek piercings, scarring is common. Anecdotally, some people actually get a cheek piercing because they want the scar, not the jewelry.

Signs of an infected piercing include a yellow discharge, swelling, continued pain and redness, and itching. There are home treatments you can try, but see a doctor if the pain worsens or symptoms do not improve within two days.

Sometimes a body will register a piercing as a foreign object and reject it. The skin tissues expand to push the jewelry out.

You will likely experience swelling with cheek piercings. Make sure you start with a longer bar, which won’t get trapped by the swelling, making it difficult to clean. Don’t change your jewelry for 8 to 12 weeks.

You may be more likely to bite down on the rod inside your cheek when you’re swollen, so chew carefully. You can gently treat the swollen area for a few minutes using an ice pack wrapped in a paper towel.

A bump around a cheek or other oral piercing can be several things:

  • Abscess (sometimes called a piercing blister), which is treated by cleaning the piercing site and applying a warm compress. If the fluid coming out smells foul, see a doctor immediately.
  • Hypertrophic scar, which is a common response to skin that’s been injured.
  • Keloid scar, which forms as a result of excess scar tissue.

The mouth is known for healing quickly, which is why you can burn the roof of your mouth, for example, and not feel anything the next day. A cheek piercing is done on the mucous membrane of the mouth internally, so it may heal quickly, but it may also leave visible scars on the outside.

Cheek piercings are considered one of the riskier options because of their proximity to the parotid gland. Always make sure you’ve vetted your body piercer beforehand.

Don’t get facial piercings if you will be traveling or have other circumstances that will prevent you from properly caring for it for up to 8 weeks after. The piercing will need to carefully cleaned at least twice a day, every day.

The inside of the jewelry is also likely to rub against your teeth and gums. If you already have cavities, enamel wear, or receding gums, it’s best to skip the cheek piercing so you don’t exacerbate the problem.

It’s a good idea to go to the dentist more frequently to make sure the piercing is not causing dental damage. Be sure that your jewelry is made of hypoallergenic, non-toxic materials, and that you’re not allergic to the type of metal the jewelry is made of.

Follow these steps for proper aftercare of cheek and lip piercings:

  • Treat the outside of the piercing using liquid antibacterial soap or Bactine. If soap is too harsh, you can dilute it with water on a 1-to-1 ratio. Apply it to the piercing with a cotton swab. Carefully turn the jewelry only after the area is cleaned.
  • Clean two to three times every day.
  • Continue the care regimen for at least 8 weeks.

You can also clean a new piercing with a saline solution that you can make at home by adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to about 40 mL of water (about a shot glass). Only use a fresh paper towel to dry the piercing. If you’re unsure of how to best care for your piercing, check with your piercer or with a doctor.

A bit of pain and swelling is normal in the first week or so after a new piercing. You should see a doctor if your piercing is bleeding, oozing yellowish puss, or increasingly red or swollen after a few days, which may signify an infection.

See a doctor immediately if you have a fever or suspect that damage has been done to your parotid duct.

Some people like that cheek piercings give the illusion of dimples, or make existing dimples appear more defined. If done properly, cheek piercings are considered safe. Still, the procedure has some risk.

Always confirm that your body piercer is licensed and has performed cheek piercings before. Also make sure their equipment is clean and sterile.

Be aware of proper cleaning and aftercare guidelines to help reduce the risk of infection, and ensure you have the time and resources to properly care for your piercing before committing to it.