Archive for Surface 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Alternate Names: Vampire, vampire bite, vampire’s kiss, neck piercing, neck surface piercing, vampire victim piercing.
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.
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.
Location: The nape of the neck (the back of the neck in the area between the hairline and the base of the neck.)
Alternate Names: Nape surface piercing, neck piercing
Piercing: The nape piercing is a surface piercing which will generally be performed with a hollow piercing needle. Punch and taper technique may also be used by more experienced piercers to create a perfectly shaped channel for the surface jewelry. This piercing normally takes slightly longer than a run of the mill cartilage piercing to perform as placement must be exact, and a surgical pen may be used to mark the entry and exit points.
Aftercare: As with most surface piercings, a nape piercing will likely take at least twelve weeks to heal. Sea salt soaks, hot compresses, and gentle cleanings with surgical grade soap or saline are often recommended. Due to location, extra care must be taken when changing clothing and grooming the hair so as not to swat or yank the piercing jewelry which may cause irritation.
Jewelry: Most piercers will use surface bars for this type of piercing, which are shaped like a staple to alleviate pressure on the skin. In many cases flexible barbells made out of tygon, bioplast, or PTFE have been successfully used as well. In the case of a surface barbell, the best option provided is a bar with longer arms to accommodate the initial swelling followed by a change out for jewelry with shorter arms after healing.
Prevalence: Amongst those under age 29, surface piercing is estimated to account for approximately two percent of overall piercings. Nape piercing itself has become particularly popular amongst young women, including famous Italian actress Asia Argento.
Location: Any piercing performed along the outer edge of the orbital cavity may be referred to as an anti-eyebrow piercing. This includes the upper cheekbone area, underneath the eyebrow, or more rarely in the area next to the outer corner of the eye itself.
Alternate Names: Upper cheek piercing, high cheek piercing, tear(s) piercing, teardrop(s) piercing, butterfly kiss (under the eye, above the cheekbone), crows feet (next to the outer corner of the eye)
Piercing: This piercing is a surface piercing, and is generally performed with a hollow piercing needle and clamp. A dermal punch may also be used along with the less prevalent “punch and taper” technique that some seasoned piercers have begun to practice. The punch and taper technique involves using the punch to create the actual openings through which the free ends of the jewelry will protrude and then separating the skin from the underlying tissue with a taper. This allows for the completed piercing to be the exact shape of the surface bar that will be inserted, but is considerably more difficult to master than standard needle and clamp technique.
Aftercare: Like many surface piercings, the anti-eyebrow will normally take months to heal rather than weeks. Due to the sensitivity of the skin around the eye socket, bruising is common, though generally not threatening. Many piercers recommend sea salt soaks, along with gentle cleanings and/or compresses.
Jewelry: Surface bars are recommended for the anti-eyebrow surface piercing, though success has also been found with curved barbells and flexible bioplast bars.
Prevalence: The butterfly kiss style piercing has become increasingly popular with pin-up models, burlesque artists, and other retro styled female performers and artists. The teardrop style piercing (vertical or at an angle on the cheek, rather than horizontal) is beginning to grow in popularity amongst young men. Studies show that over 45% of those age 18 to 29 in the United States have at least one piercing other than their earlobe, and up to 2% of those are estimated to be surface piercings.
As piercing of the face, ears, and just about anywhere becomes more popular, shopping for jewelry for ourselves or as gifts for others may be more confusing. One surefire way to be certain you’re shopping for the right kind of jewelry for a piercing? By knowing the name and location of popular body piercings and what jewelry can be worn there. And like always, we’re here to help with a quick reference guide and study session. Today we’ll cover facial piercings!
Piercings of the face
There are few basic facial piercings that everyone should know before doing holiday shopping for pierced family members. They are the eyebrow piercing, anti-eyebrow piercing, labret, monroe, medusa, dimples, nostril (commonly referred to as just nose piercing), septum, and bridge.
As shown here, eyebrow piercings are generally worn with an eyebrow ring, which is a small curved barbell, while anti-eyebrow or “cheek piercings” tend to be worn with a surface bar. Similarly with nose piercings, septum jewelry is usually a circular barbell like a horseshoe or BCR, while piercings of the nostril will always be referred to as a “nose ring” and come in five basic styles.
The monroe and medusa are above the upper lip, and are almost always decorated with stud style jewelry, while the labret is below or on the bottom lip, and has a wider selection of jewelry styles due to location. Hoop or “ring” type jewelry is generally the most popular amongst youth culture for piercings of the bottom lip. Other styles of multiple lip piercing are shown below, and are pictured with the type of jewelry most often worn in each piercing.
For surface piercings of the face like the bridge, anti-eyebrow, and piercings of the eyelids, preference is key to picking the right piece. While some have been pierced with a surface bar and continue to wear only this style jewelry, others will prefer to use flexible bioplast barbells or even regular straight or curved barbell items. Or, in the case of rarer piercings like the “third eye” piercing, dermal jewelry may be needed.
Dermal piercings are done with a large gauge needle or what’s called a dermal punch, and go through the skin with a single hole instead of having both an entry point and an exit point. The jewelry consists of two parts: one underneath the skin called an anchor, and some type of decoration that is visible and screws into the anchor. This allows for the look of a single jewel or spike embedded in or “growing out of” the skin. For types of microdermal or transdermal piercing in which jewelry can be changed, only the visible portion may be switched out or removed, and is usually referred to as a “dermal top.”
Stay tuned for our next reference guide, and happy holiday shopping!