Body Piercing News
Archive for June, 2010
There are many body piercers that routinely use larger gauge needles than necessary when piercing. For example, for a navel piercing which is a 14g piercing, some piercers will use a slightly larger needle (13g). This is primarily so that the jewelry can be inserted into the back of the piercing needle to allow an easy pull-through during piercing. Although this may save time and prevent any fumbling with the jewelry, it allows for a greater risk of infection and longer healing times for the client.
The reason this method increases the risk of infection is due to the fact that a larger than necessary hole is being made, creating a small ‘gap’ between the open tissue and the jewelry. Because of this ‘gap’ there are more active sites in the freshly pierced tissue for infection to occur. Also, it takes more time and energy for the body to heal a larger hole than a standard one. One solution to this problem is the use of internally-threaded body piercing needles, available from online sellers of body piercing supplies. These needles allow the jewelry to screw into the back of the needle, creating a flush, smooth piercing surface that offers the convenience of a larger needle without the drawbacks associated with them.
There are still many people that fail to see the merit of body piercing, claiming that it only serves to mutilate the body. This stigma has existed in American culture for centuries, and it is only now beginning to dissipate. Part of the reason is that piercing is viewed as a superfluous activity, but this certainly is no longer the case today.
Ear piercing is readily accepted in our culture, as men and women alike claim it gives them an opportunity for self-expression and the ability to enhance their personal style. Other body piercings can function in the same way. Just as you can match a pair of emerald earrings to a green dress, the same can be done with belly, nose or lip body jewelry. Pieces of body jewelry are often available in a multitude of colors that enable the wearer to match the piece to an outfit or occasion.
The corset piercing consists of two rows of evenly spaced surface piercings, usually done in symmetrical rows to resemble the back lacing of a corset. A corset piercing can have as few as four piercings in all or as many as desired by the wearer. This type of body piercing is contemporary in nature, becoming popular with the explosion of the body piercing movement in the late 1990’s. Mostly associated with fetish behavior and done for aesthetics, corset piercings are primarily worn by women. Once the individual piercings have been performed, they are laced with either a ribbon, rope or chain. Due to the many complications and healing issues consistent with surface piercings, the corset piercing is intended to be a temporary piercing, normally worn for no more than a week. These piercings are done mostly as an erotic behavior, for photographic sessions, or as part of a ritualistic BDSM activity.
The body jewelry worn in a corset piercing is usually captive bead rings, as they offer the best shape for ribbon threading. Controversy surrounding the promotion and publication of laced corset piercings due to the fact that corset piercings are usually photographed in a way that suggests these piercings are routine and complication-free. In the majority of photos published, the piercings have been just performed, and are photographed prior to any infection or migration that may occur. Additionally, the redness surrounding the fresh piercings is removed to give the illusion of fully healed permanence. The actual healing and aftercare of corset piercings is lengthy and prone to contamination, migration and rejection, due to the number of closely-spaced piercings and the stress placed upon the body to regenerate.
Dermal anchors can be used successfully in a corset piercing and may heal completely to offer a permanent solution. However, even if a complete healing occurs, there are still constant and ongoing issues regarding irritation and migration of the anchors due to their constant contact with clothing and other surfaces.
The eyebrow piercing is one of the most popular body piercings performed. This type of body piercing is one of the least painful and one of the fastest to heal. The historical origins of this piercing cannot be directly traced to any particular culture or religious sect. Initially shocking to most people, eyebrow piercings have become commonplace and are primarily used to draw attention to the eyes.
The types of eyebrow piercings are; standard (placed vertically in the outer third of the eyebrow), Erl (or bridge) piercing (a horizontal piercing through the glabella tissue between the brows above the nose), Teardrop/Anti-Eyebrow piercing (placed at the top of the highest crest of the cheekbone toward the outer edge of the eye), and the Bindi (or vertical) piercing (a surface piercing placed between the eyebrows or slightly above them). While standard eyebrow piercings have healing times between 6 to 8 weeks, the other piercings mentioned can take up to 6 months to heal completely.
These piercings can be performed professionally or with a body piercing kit. The piercing is performed using a hollow piercing needle between 18g in size and 14g, accompanied by a sterile captive bead ring or barbell usually curved. The length of the barbell or diameter of the ring should be a minimum of 3/8 inch in size. Keep in mind that even when completely healed, the eyebrow piercing can easily close if jewelry is removed, sometimes as quickly as 24 hours after removal.
Body piercing kits are available for virtually any kind of body piercing. Although there are a myriad of kits available on the web (through individual web sites or auction sites such as ebay), not all piercing kits are created equal. What separates the good from the bad piercing kits is not so much where you buy them, but what a kit includes.
A surprisingly large number of body piercing kits for sale offer the rudimentary needles, tools and prep, but very few actually offer sterile body jewelry. Using sterilized body jewelry for body piercing is required by law, and for good reason; using unsterilized jewelry can lead to serious infection, injury or even death. What good does it do to wear gloves and use a sterile needle to make the piercing, if you are just going to just shove a dirty piece of jewelry into the skin?
Other inferior kits may include a few needles and prep items with an ear-piercing gun or similar inappropriate tool for body piercing. These kits are primarily ear-piercing kits that are being incorrectly sold as body piercing kits. Remember, it is more important to read the details of a product than to judge a kit by it’s photo. Many sellers have ‘small print’ that says that what you see may not be what you’ll get. If that’s the case, you can bet that by the time your kit reaches you it will suffer numerous substitutions and degradations in quality.
If there is one thing that separates the ‘men from the boys’ in the body piercing kit world, it is sterile body jewelry. Do yourself (or your client) a favor and make sure the body piercing kit you purchase includes sterile body jewelry. If you are unsure if the jewelry in the kit you are interested in, ask the seller directly. You’ll be glad you did!
Body jewelry for ears is worn in an opening in the earlobe or cartilage created by stretching the skin to a desired point. Ear jewelry is available in many different shapes, sizes and colors. The basic materials used in this type of body jewelry are; metals, semi-precious stones, bone, woods, and plastics. The most popular styles of body jewelry for ears are; plugs (that are solid throughout), tunnels (that feature see-through openings in the center), tapers (also called stretchers that are elongated and feature increasing gradations of thickness for stretching) and other non ear-specific jewelry (like captive bead rings, bars and horseshoe barbells).
Double flared ear jewelry feature outer edges that are larger in diameter than the center, or ‘flared’, and may require stretching during placement. Single flared plugs allow for easier insertion since they do not require stretching and include rubber rings (known as ‘O’ rings) to hold the pieces in place. Screw-on ear tunnels (see photo) are double-flared but un-screw at one end to allow the benefits of single-flared plugs without the need of an ‘O’ ring. Most people that stretch their ears own several types of ear jewelry, allowing for frequent rotation.
The legal age of consent for receiving a tattoo or body piercing varies from state to state. Most states have made it illegal to perform body art on minors under the age of 14, and at least 39 states have enacted laws that prohibit minors from getting tattoos, while 28 states do not allow minors to get tattoos or body piercings without parental consent. (In California, it is a misdemeanor to tattoo anyone under the age of 18.) For body piercing in California, the person must be 18 years of age, or if between 14 and 18 years of age, must have a parent present or provide notarized permission. Shop staff and certified body piercers know these laws well and should never deviate from them, since breaking these laws will involve fines, penalties and even possible jail time.
The vast majority of states follow along these lines, with some notable exceptions. In the states of Maine, Mississippi and Washington, you must be 18 to receive a tattoo or body piercing, while states like Georgia, Illinois and Wyoming require a body piercing performed on a minor to include parental permission and be performed only by a physician. If you are unsure about the laws regarding body art in your state, contact your county health department.
Body piercing involves the piercing (or puncturing) of the skin by means of needles or other sharp instruments. The vast majority of body piercings are performed using hollow steel needles that are made of surgical stainless steel. The needles used vary in thickness (referred to as ‘gauge’) and are either straight or curved in shape. The gauge of needle required for the piercing depends upon the size of jewelry intended to be worn. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the thickness of the needle. For instance, a nose piercing will generally require either a 20g or 18 gauge needle, while a navel piercing requires a 14g needle. Ready-made body piercing kits can be easily found for virtually any type of body piercing and should include the right size of needle and sterile body jewelry.
Pain is a subjective experience and is unique to the person being pierced. However, it is generally agreed upon that certain areas of the body are more sensitive than others when it comes to body piercing. The least painful areas to pierce are usually eyebrows, nostrils and the tongue. The most painful piercings are the nipples, genitals and cartilage piercings (ear), with the remaining areas falling in the middle of the pain spectrum. Although the pain for most piercings will only last a few seconds, there are a few things that can be done to minimize it. Make sure the needle is as sharp as possible. Another idea that might help is to take an aspirin or pain-reliever (over-the-counter medication taken as if you have a routine headache) a half hour to an hour before piercing. The use of pain reducing pads right before piercing can also reduce discomfort by numbing the skin. The final tip for minimizing pain is simply to relax – tense muscles and nervousness while being pierced can cause additional pain by putting your nervous system on ‘alert’. Always remain calm and try to focus your thoughts on something else. It will be over before you know it and you may not even feel it at all.
Ear stretching is one of the most popular forms of body modification performed today. Many parents are concerned about the implications of ear stretching and the possibility of irreversibility. Although many body piercings and stretchings are reversible (meaning they will re-close naturally upon jewelry removal), ear stretchings are not always reversible, requiring plastic surgery to repair. The question is; at what point does an ear stretching become permanent?
Ear stretching is accomplished through the use of tapers, or stretchers, that are made of progressively larger sizes (gauges) inserted to the ear and forced in to create a hole that the body jewelry is then placed into. Ear stretchers, made of either plastic, steel, wood, stone, bone, or flexible materials like silicone, are available in sizes ranging from 16g to over one inch.
The point where the ears will not return to their natural shape varies from person to person. However, it is generally agreed upon that for most individuals, an ear stretched beyond 00 gauge in size (10 millimeters) is irreversible. Another indication of irreversibility is the formation of a fistula. A fistula is the result of an ear being stretched too quickly and consists of scar tissue around the perimeter of the hole. If and ear does not return to it’s normal shape naturally, plastic surgery is required.
Although it is rare for a new body piercing to require medical attention, it can happen, and it is important to know what to look for. Usually the cause of infection is from bacteria present on the surface of the skin that was not properly prepared before piercing. Bacterial infections can also be caused by unclean tools or body jewelry that are not sterilized prior to use. A certified body piercer is required to use only sterile needles, tools, and body jewelry (contained in sterile pouches). If you are unsure if your piercer is using sterilized items, feel free to ask if you can see them before you get pierced. (If the piercer balks at this request or cannot produce pouched items for your inspection, leave immediately!)
The other reason an infection may occur can be from either improper (or infrequent) cleaning of the piercing, or from a reaction to a type of material present in the initial body jewelry. In a new body piercing, it is important to use only non-reactive materials such as; 316L surgical grade stainless steel, titanium (not plated), or PTFE (a type of teflon material).
It is normal during the healing process of a body piercing to experience some swelling and redness of the area. It is important to not remove the jewelry since the jewelry during the healing process, as it acts as a natural drain for the fluids that cause swelling. However, if there is excessive redness, extreme swelling, or you experience extreme tenderness of the area that radiates over a half inch from the pierced area, it could be the onset of cellulitis. If this occurs, antibiotics can usually treat the infection. However, if the infection advances beyond this stage and produces symptoms of fever or body aches around the pierced area, medical attention should be sought immediately from a doctor or hospital.
Although the vast majority of body piercings heal without complications, it is important to be aware of anything unusual that may be going on during the healing process. If you see any signs of possible infection appear around your body piercing, or if you think your piercing is taking too long to heal, don’t hesitate to go see your body piercer to have them check it out. Good body piercers make time for their clients no matter what and are genuinely concerned about their safety. It’s always better to be sure that something is normal than to allow an infection to develop.