A helix piercing is one of the most popular ear piercings. But like any body modification, there are costs involved that go beyond just the initial piercing procedure.
In this article, we’ll break down the average price range for a helix, factors that influence the cost, details on the piercing process itself, aftercare and maintenance needs, jewelry considerations, health and safety, long-term care, and other cost-related questions to help you budget and prepare for getting your helix pierced.
How Much Does a Helix Piercing Cost?
The average cost for a basic helix piercing falls between $30 to $50. However, pricing can range from as low as $20 up to $100 depending on several factors.
This covers the piercing service itself:
- Basic single helix: $30-$50
- Elaborate multi-piercing helix project: $70-$150
- High-end piercing boutique with luxury experience: Up to $250
- Basic titanium starter stud: $10-$20
- Solid 14k gold ring or stud: $60-$100
- Premium lab gemstone end: $80-$300
- High karat gold with diamonds: Over $500
- Saline spray or wipes: $5-$15
- Specialty soaps and solutions: $10-$25
So for a single helix with basic titanium jewelry and standard aftercare, total cost can be around $50-$75.
For an ornate curated project with solid gold jewelry and premium aftercare, total investment can exceed $500+.
Additional Cost Considerations
Other potential costs to account for:
- Travel costs to a specialty studio
- Extra services like numbing spray
- Initial and follow-up consultations
- Tip for piercer (15%-20% is standard)
- Additional jewelry purchased later on
- Supplies like gauze, Qtips, donut pillows, headphones, etc.
What is a Helix Piercing?
A helix piercing is located along the upper cartilage rim of the ear. It runs parallel to the outside of the ear, following the helix area which forms the prominent rim shape. Unlike a standard earlobe piercing that pierces through soft tissue, a helix goes through hard cartilage which takes longer to heal.
Anatomy of the Ear Related to Piercing
The ear is comprised of three sections – the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The outer ear contains the earlobe (made of skin and fatty tissue) and the cartilage (firm, flexible tissue). A helix piercing penetrates through the cartilaginous helix portion of the outer ear. This is usually more painful than an earlobe piercing due to the density of cartilage.
Types of Helix Piercings
There are a few common variations of the helix piercing:
- Standard Helix – Located on the upper ear cartilage rim. This is the most popular and basic helix piercing.
- Forward Helix – Located on the very front of the helix, closest to the face.
- Scaffold Helix – Two or more piercings lined up along the helix rim.
- Orbital Helix – A ring-shaped jewelry that penetrates through two points of the helix.
Factors Influencing Cost
Location of the Studio
Studios located in major cities like Los Angeles or New York generally charge more compared to studios in small towns. Overhead costs are higher in large metro areas.
Experience of the Piercer
Reputable piercers with years of experience and specialty training can charge more for their skill and expertise. Apprentice piercers usually cost less.
Type of Jewelry
Jewelry made of premium materials like gold or diamonds have the highest price markups. Surgical steel or titanium jewelry is the most affordable. Fancy shapes and large gauges also add cost.
Complexity of the Piercing
A basic single helix piercing takes less time and skill than an orbital or scaffold with multiple piercings, so it costs less.
A thorough consultation will be done to assess ear anatomy, discuss placement, and ensure you are a suitable candidate.
Preparation and Sanitation
The piercer will wash hands, wear gloves, disinfect the area, and use sterile instruments. Proper sanitation is key.
Using a piercing needle, gentle pressure is applied until the needle passes through the cartilage. Jewelry is immediately inserted to keep the puncture open.
Explicit verbal and written aftercare directions will be provided covering cleaning solution, frequency, jewelry handling, signs of infection, and more.
Aftercare and Maintenance
Recommended Aftercare Products
A sterile saline spray or solution made for piercings should be used 1-2 times daily. Avoid harsh products like peroxide or alcohol which can irritate.
Routine Care Instructions
Gently clean around the piercing morning and night, rinse thoroughly in the shower, and pat dry with clean gauze or paper towels. Avoid submerging in baths or pools during healing.
Signs of Infection
Redness, swelling, green/yellow discharge, warm skin, and pain may indicate infection. Seek medical treatment promptly to avoid complications.
Suitable Jewelry Materials
Titanium, 14k gold, surgical steel studs, or captive bead rings are ideal. Avoid sterling silver as it can tarnish.
Wait at least 6 months before changing jewelry to allow proper healing. See your piercer for the initial jewelry change to avoid trauma.
Health and Safety Considerations
Choosing a Studio – Select an established piercing studio that follows regulations and maintains the highest hygiene practices. Licensing and autoclave sterilization are musts!
Health Risks and Safety Measures – Improper technique and aftercare can lead to infections, bleeding, scarring, or rejection. But these risks are minimized with an expert piercer.
Legal Age – There may be age restrictions for piercings. Parent/guardian consent is often required for those under 18 years old.
Healing Timeline – Full healing takes 6 months up to 1 year. The helix will remain sensitive and prone to irritation during the healing period.
Long-term Maintenance – Continue cleaning 1-2 times per week. Take care not to snag the jewelry and avoid pressure on the piercing.
Lifestyle Impact – May need to adjust headphones, hair accessories, and masks and use travel pillows to avoid contact with the helix until healed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How painful is a helix piercing?
The pain level of a helix piercing can vary greatly depending on individual pain tolerance, but in general, it is considered one of the more painful ear piercings. The helix is pierced through dense cartilage which has a lot of nerve endings, so there is often a sharp feeling of pressure or a burning sensation during the initial piercing.
Most describe the pain as around a 5-8 on a scale of 10, with 10 being extremely painful. However, the pain is very brief, lasting only a second for the actual piercing. Soreness and tenderness often continue for a few days or weeks afterward as the helix starts the healing process.
Over-the-counter pain medication and cold compresses can help relieve post-piercing discomfort. While certainly not the most comfortable piercing, the momentary pain of a forward helix piercing is manageable for most with proper breathing techniques and is well worth it for the end result.
Why do helix piercings never heal?
While helix and cartilage piercings can take longer to heal than earlobe piercings, they should fully heal if properly cared for. Some reasons why a helix piercing may seem to never heal or be prone to complications like infections include:
- Poor quality jewelry – Jewelry made from unsuitable materials that are not biocompatible can lead to irritation and delay healing.
- Heavy jewelry – Initially wearing heavy gauge jewelry or large decorative ends adds pressure on the new body piercing.
- Trauma from friction – Constant movement and friction from clothing, masks, headphones, etc rubs against the piercing, reopening wounds.
- Improper aftercare – Inadequate cleaning or use of too harsh cleaning products introduces bacteria and prevents healing.
- Unqualified piercer – Incorrect piercing technique and placement lead to trauma and increased risk of complications.
So as long as you start with a reputable piercer, follow all aftercare instructions, wear appropriate starter jewelry, and avoid trauma to the area, your helix piercing should heal nicely within the expected 6-month to 1-year time frame. Be patient, and consistent with aftercare, and let the piercing rest as much as possible. See your piercer if you have concerns.
Do helix piercings get infected easily?
While any piercing comes with some inherent risk of infection if proper care and hygiene are not maintained, helix piercings are not necessarily prone to getting infected easily in most cases.
With an experienced piercer utilizing sterile technique and high-quality jewelry, the risk of infection is very low. Appropriate aftercare is important to prevent the introduction of bacteria while the piercing heals.
Signs of infection such as increasing swelling, redness and discharge should be evaluated promptly. Overall, helix piercings have a good success rate when pierced correctly and cared for properly.
Be sure to do your research to find a qualified professional piercer, follow all their aftercare instructions, allow adequate healing time, and avoid trauma to give your new helix piercing the best chance at an uncomplicated and infection-free healing process.