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November 23, 2000

Daily Care

Question from AOL.com:

I can't seem to find any information about people with diabetes who decide to pierce body parts. I'm 18, and recently I pierced my eyebrow with no problems (infections). It is taking longer to heal, but for someone with diabetes, I'm guessing that's normal. I take okay care of myself, but I get in bad habits sometimes. Are any other people with diabetes who have gotten their tongue pierced? I want to very much, but I'm afraid to. I know that everyone thinks I shouldn't, but medically would my tongue fall off? Is there a safe time (like when you have everything under control)? What would happen if I did get my tongue pierced?

Answer:

If your A1c is consistently less than 7%, you have had diabetes less than five years, and it is done professionally, there is very little added risk to body piercing than for someone who does not have diabetes. Whilst the tongue is most unlikely to ‘drop off’ it is a very vascular and a very mobile organ so that it is much more subject to trauma and therefore to infection and an insert could easily damage gums and the mucosa of the rest of the mouth. I would advise against this, but if you must go ahead, try to settle for a small gold or platinum ring.

DOB
Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:

Body piercing is like anything else when someone also has diabetes. If glucose control is established and maintained (hemoglobin A1c levels below 7.0-7.5% or so) then it is unlikely to cause any special problems directly related to the diabetes. The longer the degree of being out of control, the more the risk of infections. If sterile technique is not utilized during piercing, the risk of infection obviously also increases. Other general risks of any body piercings include scar tissue formation, and the effect of any infection on diabetes control itself. For tongue piercing, all the above apply plus any erosion from chipping of dental enamel on inside layers of teeth.

SB
Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

We have had some problems with college kids getting various body parts pierced, so I am glad you have had no problems with the eyebrow. We have seen problems with the belly button, but more so with the tongue. One problem with the tongue is that there is a lot of bacteria in the mouth, and this causes problems in kids with diabetes plus sometimes the stud comes out and can result in choking.

LSF