Archive for Surface Piercings


Skin Divers Vs Dermal Anchors

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What is a Skin Diver?

A skin diver is a small piece of jewelry that is implanted partially under the skin. The base which is the part that lies under the skin’s surface has a pointed end. To insert them the piercer must use a biopsy punch to create a hole for the jewelry to sit inside. The ends which are exposed are non-interchangeable, so whichever color or style of jewelry you pick would not be able to be changed once  the jewelry is placed. The jewelry can be removed by the piercer should you decide you no longer want this piercing.


What is a Dermal Anchor?

Also referred to as a Microdermal, a dermal anchor has flat base or ‘foot’ with holes in it which allow the flesh to grow through as it heals. This helps keep the jewelry in place and prevents it easily being ripped out. The exposed end has threading and the tops can be interchanged with many colors and styles available. The method of placing this piercing involves the piercer using a dermal punch, which is a hollow needle with a slanted end. The piece of jewelry is then inserted into the pocket created by the dermal punch. This jewelry can also be removed by your piercer when you no longer want it.

The Decision:

Only you and your piercer can decide what’s best for you, but as a general rule Dermal Anchors or Microdermals are made of better quality metals and are less likely to be accidentally ripped out or reject. Still unsure? Check out AJ get her Dermal Anchors:

contemporary cheek piercings

Location: The cheeks, starting from just underneath the eyes, extending downward towards the chin, and outwards to the jaw.

Names: The anti-eyebrow piercing (high cheek piercing, Cleopatra piercing, teardrop piercing, butterfly kiss), the dimple piercing (cheek piercing, cheek bites, dimpler), and the cheek dermal (facial dermal, cheekbone piercing, teardrop dermal, Cleopatra dermal).

 anti-eyebrow, dimple, and dermal piercings

Piercing: Most anti-eyebrow piercings are performed as a surface piercing, which usually necessitates either the use of two needles, or punch and taper technique (employing a dermal punch).  Dimple piercings however, may be performed with a single needle, much like dahlia or upper lip modifications.  Microdermals can make use of either a hollow piercing needle inserted at an angle to create a pocket of skin, or a dermal punch to cleanly remove the skin leaving a small hole.

Aftercare: As with most piercings whose base rests inside the mouth, lower cheek or dimple piercings will require both external and oral aftercare.  This often involves the use of both soaks/washes and oral rinses to prevent irritation from food particles.  For higher set anti-eyebrow piercings, standard surface piercing aftercare will generally suffice, and the same will be true for dermal cheek mods.  Microdermals will always require vigilance as well, as they are easier to pull free from the skin when bumped or snagged.

 convenient aftercare products

Jewelry: Anti-eyebrow style piercings are normally worn with surface bars, but can also be seen with flexible barbells or occasionally curved barbells, depending on their exact location.  High cheek dermals can be worn with standard dermal anchors, which feature a removable decorative top, or with single piece micros called “skin divers.”  And for lower cheek or dimple piercings, a labret/monroe style stud (usually with a flat back) is often used.

 surface piercing body jewelry

Popularity: Although cheek piercings are of primarily contemporary origin, they continue to rise in popularity and prevalence amongst certain social sub-groups of the younger modified generations.  It’s estimated that dermal and surface piercings in general still compose less than 3% of the overall piercings amongst these segments of the population.


Modification Overview: Surface Piercings

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surface piercing overview

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.

 surface style piercing mods

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.

 measuring surface piercings

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.

 steel and titanium surface jewelry

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.

contemporary surface piercings


Modern Piercings: Scratching the Surface

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modern surface style piercings

In the early days there were piercings of the upper ears, nose, eyebrows, and belly button, and very few outside challenges.  Then as time went on and more modification artists started to expand and explore, new piercings like the daith, the madison, and the nasallang came about.  But right in the here and now is where mod enthusiasts should feel the luckiest, especially since we live in the age of dermals and surface piercings.

Surface piercings are those piercings in which both the entry and exit points occur on the same plane of skin, with only the tips or decorative portions of the jewelry being visible.  This type of piercing utilizes a staple shaped barbell called a surface bar, and the barbell portion itself remains below the skin, with both free ends resting above.  This enables artists to pierce the human body almost anywhere.

 the anatomy of a surface body piercing

There are several methods of creating a channel within the skin to house the surface barbell, including the use of forceps and a single needle (like a regular piercing), the use of two needles and no forceps, and the technique known as “punch and taper” which employs a taper or needle along with a dermal punch.  The use of many of these approaches will depend on both the area of the piercing, and the preferences of the piercer.

Most surface piercings carry a slightly higher risk of migration or rejection comparative to standard piercings, but with proper aftercare and maintenance, they can be healed and worn comfortably for many years.  The surface bar itself is not continually changed out or removed, but the tips can be changed repeatedly to augment the look of the piercing.

 body jewelry balls

Some of the most popular surface piercing sites include the wrists, the nape of the neck, the eye/cheek area, the hips, the clavicles, the sternum, and the side of the head near the ear (in the tragus area).

areas of the body for surface piercings

valley, or sacral piercing

The “valley piercing” is a surface piercing of the lower back that lies right above, or sometimes within, the cleft of the buttocks.  This funny and interesting contemporary piercing has also been known by many other names, including “butt crack piercing,” “sacral piercing,” and “coccyx piercing.”

Like most surface piercings, the valley piercing can be performed with either a single hollow piercing needle, two hollow needles, or the punch and taper technique, depending upon the preference of the client and the piercer.  Due to the area of the body in which it resides, this type of piercing can be difficult both to clean and to completely heal, and because of constant movement there’s a higher rate of rejection or migration than average.

 coccyx surface piercing

Valley piercings are worn almost exclusively with surface bars, though flexible PTFE or tygon bars have been used from time to time.  They can be pierced both vertically and horizontally, and sometimes will sit slightly higher up on the back.  As an alternative to the traditional surface piercing, some choose to get dermal piercings in the area instead.  Those who have tattoos across the lower back may also use valley piercings or valley dermals strategically to accent their body art.

 fun dermal body jewelry

Although valley piercings have been around since at least 2007, they remain rare to this day in both the US and UK.  For a long time these piercings were called by interesting alternate names by both the persons who wore them and the artists who pierced them, causing them further anonymity.  Many piercers throughout the western world have yet to even perform one, making them some of the coolest piercings you may have never heard of.


Popular Piercings: Surface Piercings

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Surface piercings are piercings performed along the plane of the skin so that both ends are visible above the skin’s surface.  They most often utilize a staple shaped barbell known as a surface bar.

Facial Piercings

surface piercings of the facefrom left: horizontal eye brow, vertical tragus, anti-eyebrow, bridge, vertical bridge

Horizontal Eyebrow: a horizontal piercing performed just above the natural brow and generally worn with a surface bar.  Some persons may get multiples of this piercing on one or both sides, or alternatively, fake the look of it through the careful placement of dermals (single point piercings).

Vertical Tragus: the tragus is the nub of cartilage that protrudes from the side of the head to cover the opening of the ear canal.  When this piece of flesh is pierced through vertically, it’s called a “vertical tragus piercing.”  This name however, has also been applied to vertical surface piercings of this area, as shown above.  The name vertical tragus is unique in this way, as it applies to two different piercings that are performed in the same general location.

Anti-eyebrow: anti-eyebrow piercings may be made in a variety of locations around the eye, but are usually worn in either the crows feet area, or (as shown above) just below the lower lash line.  Surface bars are primarily worn in both locations.

Bridge Piercing: the bridge piercing is also often called an Erl, after character actor Erl Van Aken, who is credited with popularizing it.  Unlike most surface piercings, depending upon the anatomy, an Erl can sometimes be worn with a regular curved barbell, flexible bioplast bar, or even a standard straight barbell.  Surface bars are not able to fit properly in many cases.

Vertical Bridge: another name for the vertical bridge piercing is the “third eye,” due of course, to its location directly over the third eye (or ajna) chakra.  This type of piercing is rarer than the traditional bridge piercing, and may sometimes be worn in conjunction with other adornments such as bindis.

Body Piercings

surface piercings of body and torsofrom left: clavicle piercing, nape piercing, hip piercing, cleavage piercing, wrist piercing

Clavicle Piercing: clavicle piercings may be performed directly above, or in any area closely below the visible outcropping of the clavicle itself.  Although they’re primarily a female piercing, many versions of clavicle piercings have been performed on men, including the alternative sub-clavicle piercing, which begins above the bone, penetrates the body cavity, and emerges from underneath on the other side.

Nape Piercing: this piercing is often worn in multiples as seen above, but may also be performed as a single piercing or even a microdermal piercing.  Piercings performed anywhere on the back of the neck from just underneath the hairline, to the visible protrusion of the cervical vertebrae, fall under the name.

Hip Piercing: like many other surface piercing, a hip piercing may be done anywhere in the general area of the hip.  Usually however, it is worn just inside or just above the protrusion of the hip bone, on the lower abdomen.  Many women who get hip piercings prefer to pair them symmetrically (one on each side), and they’re often added to accentuate a tattoo or a belly button piercing.

Cleavage Piercing: piercings of the skin across the decolletage are called “cleavage piercings,” or “sternum piercings.”  These piercings are won almost exclusively by women for obvious reasons, and are sometimes difficult to heal completely because of their location.  Most will be worn with surface bars or flexible PTFE or tygon barbells.

Wrist Piercing: the wrist piercing can be made horizontally or vertically, and is sometimes called a “brace” or bracer” when worn in multiples.  Like most surface piercings, surface bars work best here, but other types of jewelry have been worn successfully.  Many who pierce their wrists will do so temporarily with the intention of lacing them as corset or play piercings.

Rare Piercings

surface piercings that are rarely seenfrom left: hand piercing, Madison, valley piercing

Hand Piercing: most surface piercings performed on the hands don’t have official names as of yet, being essentially in their infancy as piercings go.  They’ll normally be referred to simply as “hand piercings”, “hand surface piercings,” or will be called by the area of the hand on which they reside (ex: finger piercing, knuckle piercing, hand “web” piercing, etc.).

Madison Piercing: the Madison piercing is relatively rare as surface piercings go, but it has actually been around since the 1990s, having been first seen on and named after former adult star Madison Stone.  The Madison is sometimes performed as a single point piercing (dermal), but as a surface piercing it remains unique, being worn almost exclusively with curved barbells or circulars.

Valley Piercing: any piercing made between the small of the back and the crest of the rump is called a valley piercing.  This type of piercing is relatively new, and can be worn as either a vertical or horizontal piercing based on individual anatomy and preference.  One of the rarest of all the surface piercings, the valley has been used primarily to accent tattoo art, or as a temporary piercing for use with specific articles of clothing.

A nape piercing is a contemporary surface piercing through the back part of the neck, just below the hairline. Surface piercings have a higher rejection and migration rate and must be measured and placed properly, so it’s very important to go to an experienced piercer for this procedure. Extra care must be taken so the piercing does not catch on hair or clothing as well. The main difference between a surface piercing and a standard piercing is that the surface piercing has entrance and exit holes that go through the same plane of a flat area of skin, such as the nape.

First, all of the hair and jewelry that is on the neck is moved out of the way. The nape is then measured and marked with a surgical pen. This is extra important with a surface piercing because improper bar size can cause infection or rapid rejection and discomfort, especially since it rests under the skin. This piercer placed the piercing slightly higher on the neck because Michele wears a necklace everyday, and he did not want the nape piercing to hinder that. The piercer then extensively massaged the back of the neck to separate the tissue, pinching it with his gloved fingers and the forceps. Deep Breath. Then the skin was clamped and a 14g hollow piercing needle was inserted through the flesh. The needle was followed immediately with a titanium surface bar. The low profile surface tops were then placed on the bar and screwed in. Michele has many body piercings, and she barely felt the needle. According to both her and the piercer (who also has his nape pierced), the clamps and tissue massage hurt much more than the actual poke itself.

nape surface piercing being performed

Special jewelry is mandatory for this piercing. A surface bar is a barbell that goes under the skin; it is shaped like an open staple with a longer shaft and two shorter upright threaded legs. The threaded portions protrude from the skin and are where the balls or decorations are attached. The low profile balls or flat tops will sit snug to the skin. Titanium surface bars are the most common jewelry used for this piercing, because titanium is nickel free and is less prone to causing irritation. Tygon or PTFE barbells can also be used.  Most nape surface piercings are done in two steps. The initial bar has longer rises to accommodate swelling and the second has shorter rises to be inserted months later once the healing process has taken place.

Another less common method for obtaining a new nape piercing is with microdermal implants. Microdermal implants are single point surface piercing where the base is inserted under the skin, the threading protrudes, and a decorative top screws into the threading and sits flush on the flesh. These piercings can be arranged in a vertical line, or placed symmetrically on either side of center of the nape to give the same appearance as a surface bar.

vertical piercing of the neck nape

Due to the location on the body, piercing urban legends associate nape piercings with a potential for nerve and spinal damage. This is false. Nape piercings do not intermingle with nerve tissue more than any other surface piercing, and there is no risk of nerve damage associated with them.

As with any piercing, it is important to strictly follow your piercer’s aftercare guidelines. Nape piercings take around 8 weeks or so to heal. Because of the placement on the back of the neck, where you cannot see, it may be difficult for you to clean the piercing without the help of a friend. Just like all piercings, the first step for speedy healing is keeping the piercing clean and free from bacteria. Most body piercers will recommend cleaning the piercing with daily sea salt soaks, and also taking precautions to make sure that your hair does not get entangled in the piercing, and avoiding sleeping on your back during the initial healing period.

finger modifications

Body modification can be performed on just about any part of the human body.  The skin can be pierced, the neck elongated, the teeth filed to points, and the waist reshaped by corsetry; even the eyes can be tattooed or altered.  In recent years though, one of the funnest and most popular modification areas has become the fingers.

Finger tattoos are still growing in prevalence, and piercings around the fingers are becoming common too.  One of the most exciting and endearing recent trends is a piercing often referred to as the “ring piercing,” because it mimics the look of a wedding or engagement ring.  Although this piercing can be performed on any finger so long as the anatomy allows, the left ring finger is definitely the most popular.  For many of these mods the term “piercing” is applied loosely, as the item itself is actually a microdermal implant, usually topped with a clear crystal or gem.  Actual surface piercings of the digits have been attempted, but with much less success than the cleaner looking dermal.

 microdermal ring piercing

Tattoos of the fingers are far more varied in size and style, and range from single half inch symbols, to collections of letters on the knuckles that may spell out words, to sets of multiple symbols, letters, and pictures that may or may not relate to eachother.  Although tattoos placed on the flat plain just above the base of the finger are most common, other areas such as the “webs” between the knuckles, or the inside edges of the fingers are also inked frequently.  Piercings of the same webbed portion of the skin can also be performed, and are normally worn with circular barbells or BCRs.

 tattoo art on the fingers

From our earliest days as infants, we marvel at the complexity of our hands and especially our fingers.  The things they can do are astounding and have a profound impact on our lives.  Perhaps then it’s entirely fitting that they’ve finally become the newest subject of our intense modification obsession.

surface piercing of the hips

There is magic enveloped in those hips: the movement, the power, and the beauty hold no limits. Hips create the seductively sexy sway of a woman. It is no wonder that contemporary hip piercings have quickly been gaining popularity among body modification enthusiasts worldwide. Although more popular in females, this beautiful modification can be worn by men as well. Hip piercings are surface piercings that are situated in the pelvic area near the hip bone. It is common to get symmetrical hip piercings on both sides. They are a unique fashion in surface piercing and a very flirty addition to your body modification collection. Belly button piercings and pelvic tattoos look amazing when combined with hip piercings.

When deciding if you want to get your hips pierced, it is best to look at your piercer’s healed surface bar and micro dermal piercing portfolio. If your piercer does not have any healed photos of these piercings you may want to consider finding someone who does. Surface bars and microdermal implants are both relatively new ways to pierce the flesh so it is extra important to make sure your piercer knows what they are doing, and can prove it. Before you go under the needle it is essential to have the piercer explain the procedure and make sure all of the tools used are sterile.

Surface piercings are piercings that are situated where there is no fold or protrusion of skin in which to place them. These piercings are placed on the exterior plane of the skin and do not penetrate deeper like other piercings. You must consider the different options for obtaining your new piercing, as hip piercings can be done properly with either surface bars or micro dermal implants. There are pros and cons to each method, and depending on your piercer and your anatomy one may be better suited for you than the other.

Microdermal implants are single point piercings where a tiny anchor is inserted into an L shaped opening that is formed in the tissue. This method causes less trauma to the skin than surface bars, and has a clean look. The entry and exit area of the piercing is done with a hollow piercing needle or dermal punch. A dermal punch is a small cylindrical blade that removes an area of tissue for the new implant jewelry to be placed. Microdermals have a lower rejection rate than surface bars, but are easier to get caught on things. Simple gem dermal tops always look classy, but they also come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. The possibilities are endless. You will need 4 separate micro dermal piercings, two on each side, to achieve the desired look.

Microdermal Jewelry

Your other jewelry option for this piercing is surface barbells. Surface barbells must be ordered from your piercer because the size is so specific to your anatomy and piercing. They are staple shaped, the bar resting under your skin with the two tops protruding.  This type of jewelry is normally surgical steel, with two 90 degree angles, but can be shaped in various ways to better fit the actual piercing. Tygon jewelry, a type of plastic that reduces stress on the piercing, is also very popular for surface bars. Longer bars are recommended to help reduce the risk of rejection. You will need one surface bar on each hip to achieve the desired look.

For placement, the closer it is to your actual hip the more friction will occur. Your best bet is to get them higher up than the band of your highest pants. Your professional piercer will choose the safest location for you; each body is different. Usually the final location is in line with your hip but a little higher on your stomach towards your belly button (just above the actual hips).

The procedure takes only a few minutes. The person getting pierced must lay or recline on the piercing table. Then the piercer cleans and marks the spot, gets final approval, pinches the skin (no clamps necessary), and the rest is history.  Depending on your piercer and chosen method, the hole is punctured with a dermal punch, Punch and taper process, or a hollow piercing needle. A surface barbell or dermal anchor is set beneath the skin’s surface. The top posts of the jewelry protrude from the skin, and then the balls or adornments are screwed in and sit on the surface of the skin. There should be very little pain when done properly.

Hip piercings can take 6-8 weeks (or more) to heal. As with any brand new body modification, tenderness and redness may occur. Your piercer will also provide you with a detailed cleaning and care regiment for your new body art. Proper aftercare is essential due to the risk of infection involved. Some guidelines include but are not limited to: never play with a new piercing, keep out of contact with lotions or other things that may get in your new piercing, and do not attempt to change jewelry before it is healed.

As is the plight of many surface piercings, hip piercings can be rejected by the body. Sadly, no matter how well you were pierced, and how skilled your piercer is, some people cannot keep a lasting hip piercing for more than a few months. As the body heals, it moves the jewelry to the foremost surface of the skin, but you can always get them pierced again. It is not recommended to leave any surface piercing in after the first signs of rejection. This can cause further problems, including scarring. In order to determine what your chances of rejection are with this style of body modification, a consultation with your experienced professional piercer will be necessary.

Hip piercings are hip for more reasons than one. The obvious reason is the physical placement and the other basis is the extreme popularity among the “hip” modified youth culture. Hip piercings now fill some of the most popular piercing photos floating around on Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and the other social photo sharing sites. Do you love this body modification trend? Are you considering getting your hips pierced? Do you have hip piercings already? Share your story with us in the comment section below!

Location: The vampire bite piercing is traditionally found somewhere on the neck or near the clavicle, however, in recent years single surface piercings tipped in red gems have been found in a variety of areas (mostly over pulse points), and are generally accepted as also being vampire bite piercings.

piercing that looks like a vampire bite

Alternate Names: Vampire, vampire bite, vampire’s kiss, neck piercing, neck surface piercing, vampire victim piercing.

vampire bite piercings

Piercing: The vampire’s kiss piercing is done in much the same way as other surface piercings, and may be performed with a single needle, two needles, a needle and punch, or a punch and taper. Before the actual piercing takes place, the entrance and exit points will be marked to assure desired placement.

Aftercare: Surface piercings are cared for diligently, with some measures including sea salt soaks and gently cleansing. As with most other surface piercings, the vampire bite carries a slightly higher risk of migration or rejection, so extra care must be taken to avoid bumping, tugging, or catching the jewelry.

Jewelry: This type of piercing is normally worn with a surface bar, a staple or U-shaped barbell. Many choose to wear their jewelry with red ball tips, or those set with ruby colored gems to imitate the look of blood.

 blood red replacement ball body jewelry

Prevalence: Although surface piercing in general is one of the lowest prevalence piercings across the board, it continues to rise, and the vampire piercing is no exception. Like most piercings directly associated with modern fiction or folklore, this piercing is associated mostly with young women.  This may be because the piercing itself mimics a vampire bite and denotes being a vampire victim, a station generally acknowledged as belonging primarily to females.