Downsizing refers to switching jewellry in a piercing to a shorter post, once initial swelling has subsided.
Because of the way piercings heal, most require initial jewellry with a noticeable amount of extra room to allow the tissue to swell in the early phases of healing. This is crucial to avoid jewellry embedding in the skin.
However, once the initial stages have passed, this initial swelling will have gone away. This will reveal the initial extra room and results in the initial jewelry now being too long. Jewellry that is too long can snag easily and move around excessively, leading to irritation and renewed swelling. In oral piercings, excessively long jewelry can lead to damage to teeth, gums, and other oral structures.
At this stage, it’s important to return to your piercer to have shorter jewellry installed to reduce these issues.
If this window for downsizing is missed for piercings such as the helix, the excessive length may lead to migration or a change of angle of piercing, especially if the piercing gets slept on. This damage is irreversible and can get bad enough to result in the piercing failing.