A piercing that goes through the septum, i.e. the wall of flesh and cartilage between your nostrils. In general, initial jewelry is 8 gauge - 14 gauge, and may be a captive bead ring, a circular barbell, or a septum retainer. Provided you have a decent piercer, the pain is rather minimal. Expect a few tears - everyone cries due to physiological reactions, no matter what their pain tolerance is. Aftercare is nothing special, but any potential infection needs to be dealt with immediately due to the piercing's location. The typical healing period is 2 to 3 months. After it's healed, interesting jewelry such as plugs, eyelets, septum spikes, tusks and even porcupine quills may be inserted instead. The septum can stretch fairly easily with tapering - one memorable picture at BMEZine involves a man with a finger through his septum piercing. Yes, this is the stereotypical ring through the bull's nose piercing.

See: Everything to do with body piercing.

I had mine pierced this Monday, at a place in Pasadena where my parents' restaurant was so many years ago. It was a reward for my mid-summer Japanese studies. When I first started on this path of body modification with a stud in the ear from a piercing gun, I don't think I ever believed I'd have one, but after treating my body like an amusement park for a while the idea failed to shock me. Pictures of septum piercings were unappetizing, but the sight of them on people in the flesh was at first interesting, and then eyecatching, and then aesthetically appealing. Something about the way it dances along with the center of someone's face...

I was extremely nervous, mostly due to the memories of the excructiating pain of my last professional piercing, an apadravya. The piercer took me through some breathing routines to calm me, and started to push through - and the needle slid through tissue with only a slight prick. If anything, I forgot how good it felt - I had a general wave of sensation, like the aftermath of a long run or opiates with a few drinks. The piercer said he could see the endorphins in his clients and even feel it sometimes - almost a contact high. My eyes teared, like anyone's would.

I picked out a 12 gauge septum retainer - a horseshoe shaped piece of body jewelry that I can flip up into my nose to avoid the usual social stigma of a bull ring. After it heals, I'll pick out a captive bead ring for parties and other special events. While I still don't know if I'll like the result on myself, I was willing to give it a try. My nose is a bit sore right now, but I can't say I regret it. I've proved dominion over my body once more, and it's left me another hidden secret.

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