Archive for Piercing and Aftercare Information
Human skin serves multiple purposes, and is considered to be a separate bodily organ. It facilitates communication through our sense of touch, assists in regulating the body’s temperature, acts as a protective barrier for our delicate underlying tissues, and in the modern world it’s also a living work of art. Piercings and tattoos may cause the skin some minor injury, but it’s in that perforated or punctured state that the epidermis truly shows just what it can do.
The way skin heals itself is nothing short of amazing. When a piercing is performed, a hollow needle is used, which literally removes the skin between one side of the piercing and the other. From there, healing occurs in three basic steps. Immediately following the physical trauma is a period of soreness known as the inflammatory phase, which normally lasts for several days. During this stage a new piercing is swollen and tender, and bleeding or bruising may occur. Once the initial discomfort fades, we enter the proliferation phase, usually extending from two to six weeks. During this time period, the skin begins to reconstruct all of its damaged parts, like when a scrape is scabbed over and heals from the inside out. Lastly, there’s the final “remodeling” phase, taking anywhere from a few more weeks to many months. Throughout this important self-healing stage, piercings are generally painless, and most of the skin around the piercing itself is actually composed of completely new cells.
The healed tunnel of skin that forms a body piercing is called a fistula, and what’s even more awesome than this new structure the skin has constructed, is the fact that it can then be stretched, reshaped, or remolded in a variety of ways as well. Just like a science fiction film where an alien loses a limb and re-grows it, human skin is capable of amazing regenerative feats. You could almost consider it a superpower. Pierced and Tattooed Superhero League, Assemble!
Surface piercings are piercings that are made across a flat plane of skin, rather than through a fold or outcropping of tissue or cartilage. They’re composed of two separate punctures, connected by a channel below the skin’s surface. This means that two balls, spikes, or decorations will be visible above the skin rather than one. The methods that piercers use to create a surface piercing vary, and can include punch and taper technique (employing a dermal punch), or the use of two piercing needles to puncture and lift.
The jewelry used in a surface piercing is a surface barbell or “surface bar,” a staple shaped solid barbell with two interchangeable ends. To accurately measure surface jewelry, length and gauge (thickness) are required just like a regular barbell, but the rise or “depth” of the bar is also a factor. Rise is the distance from the base of the decorative tip, to the curve or angle of the staple.
Because a portion of the jewelry will rest beneath the skin, surface bars are most often made of hypoallergenic solid titanium or surgical grade stainless steel, and are generally tipped with small balls, spikes, or flat discs.
Many of the popular contemporary piercings are commonly worn as surface piercings including the nape piercing, clavicles, sternum, third eye, bracer (wrist piercing), anti-eyebrow piercing, and several others.
Take a front row seat as BodyCandy friend Natori gets her tragus pierced by James at American Skin Art. (Look for the needle insertion at about the 27 second mark.)
First, the piercer uses cue tips to thoroughly cleanse the tragus area of the ear. Next, he marks a dot to show where the piercing will be positioned and has Natori check in the mirror and give the okay. A hollow needle receiving tube in placed at the opening of the ear canal directly under the tragus, to protect any other parts of the ear from accidentally getting poked. Then our piercee is instructed to take a deep breath, and the needle is pushed through. Jewelry is inserted, the ear cleaned up once more, and Natori is ready to walk away with her fun new piercing.
Tragus piercings require similar aftercare to other ear cartilage piercings, and initial heal is often quick. They’re a very versatile piercing that can hold numerous different types of body jewelry including BCRs, small barbells, horseshoes, and studs. Tragus surface piercings and vertical tragus piercings can also be performed on most individuals, and are growing in popularity as alternatives to the standard.
For more cool close-up videos of real piercings being performed, don’t forget to check us out on YouTube. Happy piercing!
In honor of Thread the Needle Day (which occurs tomorrow on the 25th), we figure it’s time to have a little talk. Specifically, we just want to let everyone know why professional piercers are so important, because there’s definitely more to piercings than just a needle.
So why is a hollow piercing needle the very best way to create beautiful body piercing art? There’s actually a few reasons, but perhaps the most obvious and simple one is this: by removing the tissue that the needle pierces through, we’re essentially adhering to the laws of physics. Removing mass with the needle, and then replacing mass with the jewelry. When you poke a hole in something without removing any mass, the area around the hole you’ve made is damaged or distressed. Just think about poking a pen through a sheet of paper. The edges around the pen hole look pretty rough, right? That’s actually a pretty good comparison of what happens to the skin when a piercing gun is used to pierce cartilaginous tissue. It doesn’t look terrible or tear anything apart, but on a cellular level, there’s definitely inflammation and fettered tissue.
It’s actually a minor form of what we would consider blunt trauma, and since parts of the piercing gun are unable to be properly disinfected, it quickly turns into a recipe for disaster. Piercings performed with a gun have a higher risk of infection, migration, or rejection, all of which can be dramatically lessened with a piercing needle. This is part of the reason that the APP (Association of Professional Piercers), has been working for almost twenty years to educate both piercers and their clients about safe piercing and aftercare practices.
So on this Thread the Needle Day, be sure to take a moment to appreciate both your piercing professional, and their stock of sterile hollow piercing needles. Because the two of them together make your body mod dreams come true.
Rare piercings are a sight to behold, and if you’re as obsessed with body art as we are, they might just give you some ideas of your own. Check out these beauties:
Triple Tongue Piercing
Three piercings of the tongue, whether next to eachother, in a vertical line (a-la- Elayne Angel), or arranged in a pattern.
Nose Bridge Piercings
Piercings of the skin over the nose’s bridge (also called an Erl piercing), generally the most fleshy portion between the eyelids or eyebrows.
A vertical piercing of the lower lip, usually worn with a curved barbell or flexible bioplast bar.
Piercings at the front of the throat that can be worn with a curved barbell, BCR, surface bar, or as a dermal piercing.
Piercings directly over or at the top crest of the clavicle. These are most often performed in pairs (one on each side), and are best performed as surface piercings and worn with surface bars.
Double Septum Piercings
Two piercings of the nasal septum or “sweet spot” flesh, normally worn with circular barbells.
Horizontal Eyebrow Piercings
Horizontally placed piercings (usually surface piercings) above or directly over the brow.
Third Eye Piercing
A piercing in the third eye chakra area between the eyebrows. These are popular as dermal piercings, but can also be seen in surface piercing style.
Follow along as Holly gets a three part piercing on her outer ear cartilage. (Watch for the needle insertions at about 0:30, 0:55, and 1:13).
Our piercing professional, James from American Skin Art, first cleans the ear and marks three small dots where the piercings will go. He then has our piercing enthusiast double check in the mirror that the markings are aligned how and where she would like. He instructs her to take a deep breath, and pushes the hollow piercing needle through, corking the free end. Next, the jewelry is slid into place and secured, and the other two piercings are performed in the same fashion. Once all three are finished, there’s a final cleanup, and our newly modified friend is ready to go.
There are a variety of perforations that can be made in the cartilage of the human ear, and not all of them have a specific or distinct name. This type of triple piercing is often referred to as an “ear flat piercing,” “triple scapha piercing,” or “fossa piercing,” and can be performed in a variety of orientations. Multiple piercings of the ear cartilage in general are becoming more common amongst the modified generations.
For some, the ear’s features won’t allow for certain piercings, and that’s where your piercing professional comes into play. With a thorough knowledge of the ear’s anatomy, they can often recommend alternate placements or styles, and angle such piercings correctly to allow for optimal healing.
For more up close videos of real piercings being performed, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube.
Piercings of the cheeks can go by a variety of names, but perhaps the most common is “dimple piercings.” These are cheek piercings specifically positioned to give the appearance of natural dimples, hence the cute and interesting name.
Dimple piercings are performed with a hollow piercing needle, and generally utilize a pair of pennington forceps like most other common facial piercings. The piercer will have you smile a few times and may feel or pinch the flesh of your cheek to decide on the most natural and viable placement. Most expert piercers will place these piercings far enough forward to avoid any possibility of tooth or gum damage from the backing of the jewelry that will rest inside the mouth. This usually means placing the piercings in front of the first molar, which also prevents any interference with the glands.
Healing can be difficult for piercings of the cheek, because they see so much movement on a daily basis. Smiling and laughing, talking, and especially eating will all be uncomfortable during the first few days, and avoidance of alcohol, makeup, and smoking are usually encouraged. Initial healing may take up to ninety days or more, with full healing normally occurring around the one year mark. Like other piercings of the lips and cheeks, dimple piercings must be cared for diligently both at the surface, and inside the mouth.
Both barbells and flat-back studs can be worn in most dimple piercings, but initial jewelry is often longer than average to accommodate any swelling that may occur. Since the cheeks tend to swell quite easily, some piercers will purposely use barbells during the initial healing phase, as the ball is less apt to be healed over due to excess inflammation than a flat disc.
For some, dimple piercings will cause mild a-symptomatic nerve damage, which basically creates a man-made dimple where there wasn’t one prior. Even after the piercings themselves are taken out, the dimpling or any small amount of scarring tend to be permanent for most individuals. Many choose to get the piercings for exactly this reason, as a cheaper and less invasive alternative to surgery for creating dimples. Becuase of the implications however, dimple piercings should always be considered carefully, just like any other permanent mod.
The tragus piercing is a piercing of that small nub of cartilage that extends out from the side of the face in front of the ear canal’s opening. An anti-tragus piercing is a piercing of the cartilaginous outcropping directly across from it, at the ear’s inner rim. A little bit rebellious, but it’s actually named “anti-tragus” after the portion of the ear anatomy that holds it.
Aside from a fun name though, the anti-tragus actually has a lot of other things going for it. This piercing heals well, can accommodate a variety of jewelry styles, and matches perfectly with its less feisty counterpart. It’s also pierced in much the same fashion as its cartilage-decorating cousins. Some piercers will pierce entirely freehand, while others will use a receiving tube, or more rarely, a pair of forceps.
As long as it’s cared for properly and avoids any knocks or scrapes, initial healing will occur around the eight to twelve week mark, with full healing taking approximately one year. During the first weeks it’s often recommended that wearers avoid submersion in pools or lakes, take care when pulling clothing off or on over the head, and limit the use of hair products, which can be potentially irritating.
Depending on individual ear anatomy, piercing the anti-tragus of some persons isn’t feasible, and others may be limited to specific types of jewelry. For the most part though, a variety of styles can be used including small curved barbells, straight barbells, tragus style studs, BCRs, and other circulars.
A rook piercing is a piercing of the antihelix of the ear, where it meets the triangular fossa at the inside edge or crus of the helix (the ear’s outer rim). This is an outcropping of cartilage between the inner and outer conch that sits just above where a daith piercing would rest. The rook is a contemporary piercing, first appearing in the early 90s, and famous piercing artist Erik Dakota is credited with it’s naming and popularization.
Like most other ear piercings, the area of the rook is first cleaned and marked for placement. Some piercers will choose to pierce entirely freehand, while others may prefer to include a needle receiving tube, or even a small pair of forceps, and possibly a cork. After being pierced, the jewelry will be pushed through and secured, and the ear will then be cleaned again.
Due to its location and the thickness of the cartilage, a rook piercing can take longer than average to fully heal. Depending upon the aftercare regimen and the individual, initial healing can occur as early as twelve weeks, but may take up to six months, with full healing occurring around the one year mark.
Many different types of body jewelry can be worn in a rook, but which will work for the individual ear is often determined by the anatomy. For some, the cartilaginous ridge will be less defined, and for others it may be pronounced but relatively closed in. Curved barbells and BCRs are most commonly worn, but straight barbells and star or heart shaped hoops have also been used.
Watch as the lovely Lulu gets a fun new septum piercing. Look for the needle insertion at about 37 seconds.
First the piercer cleans the entire septum and nostril area thoroughly, and then he uses his fingers to find the exact area where the piercing should rest. There’s a specific bit of flesh that rests just below the actual cartilage of the nasal septum that’s known as the “sweet spot,” and this is where the piercing should be done. (So a septum piercing isn’t actually meant to go through the septum cartilage itself, but rather just underneath.)
Next, the spot where the needle should go through is carefully marked, and a pair of forceps is clamped on to align the tissue. The hollow piercing needle is pushed through and corked, then chased with a staple-shaped septum retainer. As with all piercings, the entire area is cleaned once more, and then our heroine is ready to rejoin the world with the addition of an awesome new mod to show off.
Septum piercings will require aftercare that’s similar to that of other facial piercings, and will take approximately eight to twelve weeks for initial healing. Full healing should occur at around the six month mark, but can take up to a full year depending on the individual. This type of nose piercing can be performed in multiples, stretched, and sometimes even pierced a second time through a healed stretched fistula, which is generally called a septril. A variety of jewelry styles can be worn in the septum too including curved barbells, BCRs or other circulars, septum clickers, and a host of different retainers.
For more cool up-close piercing videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and remember, a safe piercing is a happy piercing!