Helium implantation in epitaxial thin films is a way to control the out-of-plane deformation independently from the in-plane strain controlled by epitaxy. In particular, implantation by means of a helium microscope allows for local implantation and patterning down to the nanometer resolution, which is of interest for device applications. We present here a study of bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3) films where strain was patterned locally by helium implantation. Our combined Raman, x-ray diffraction, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) study shows that the implantation causes an elongation of the BiFeO3 unit cell and ultimately a transition towards the so-called supertetragonal polymorph via states with mixed phases. In addition, TEM reveals the onset of amorphization at a threshold dose that does not seem to impede the overall increase in tetragonality. The phase transition from the R-like to T-like BiFeO3 appears as first-order in character, with regions of phase coexistence and abrupt changes in lattice parameters.