Dermal Piercing: Pictures, Procedure, After-Care, and Risks
What is Dermal Piercing?
Dermal piercings, also known as microdermal piercings or single-point piercings, are piercings installed on flat surfaces of the body.
Dermal piercings are different from ordinary body piercings in that the latter have entry and exit points for the jewelry. In dermal piercing, only one end of the ornament emerges from the surface of the skin; the other end is embedded in the dermal layer of the skin. This gives the appearance of having small beads on the surface of the skin.
This type of piercing is becoming popular nowadays because it can be placed on almost any flat surface in the body, allowing decoration of areas that are difficult to pierce with regular piercings.
In addition, patterns can be made with multiple dermal piercings. A dermal piercing can also attach an ornament to the finger as a “dermal ring.”
Examples of Dermal Piercing
How Dermal Piercing Works
In dermal piercing, the anchor that holds the jewelry is inserted under the top layer of the skin, into the dermis. This can be done with a needle or with a punch.
Dermal Piercing with Needles
Installing a dermal piercing using a needle is basically similar to other conventional piercing procedures. However, the needle is used to make an L-shaped pouch in the skin, instead of just a hole. The area is sterilized before the piercing, using a surgical scrub. The pouch is then made on the surface of the skin.
This pouch accommodates the base plate and the anchors of the dermal piercing, which are placed carefully using a forceps. The jewelry is then screwed into the plate.
Dermal piercing is more difficult than conventional piercing, because expertise is needed in making the pouch on the skin. Only a professional piercer should do the procedure.
In addition, the needles used must be specially made for piercing or medical procedures. Choosing the appropriate needle size depends on the location of the piercing and the anatomy of the client's skin.
Dermal Piercing With a Dermal Punch
When dermal piercing is done with a punch, the pouch is made in a different way. When using a needle, the pouch is made by separating the skin, but when using a dermal punch, the pouch is made by removing a bit of tissue. The base plate, the anchors and the jewellery are then placed.
Piercing is more commonly done using the dermal punch because the punch is less painful and safer than a needle. The punch has a protective mechanism that prevents the piercing from going too deep into the skin.
However, the use of dermal punches by non-medical personnel is not legal in some places.
More Examples of Dermal Piercing
Dermal Piercing Aftercare
- After the piercing procedure is finished, the piercing area is covered with a dressing or band-aid, for up to a few days.
- The piercing can heal within one to three months. During this time, it is important to protect the piercing from being pulled, moved around, or accidentally removed. The tissues around the piercing can be easily irritated. The piercing may get caught in clothes or towels, so care must be taken when drying the body. Clothes that can easily catch the piercing, for example fabrics with small holes, should be avoided.
- The piercing can be cleansed using a salt solution, which can be prepared at home by dissolving ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt in one cup of warm water. It can be applied or sprayed on the piercing two to three times a day. Dry the piercing using a tissue or a paper towel. A new tissue or paper towel must be used every time the piercing is cleansed, because used towels and tissues may accumulate dirt and bacteria, which in turn, may cause infection in the piercing.
- A person wanting to remove a dermal piercing should get help from a professional piercer; removing it on one's own is not recommended. The area of the piercing is gently massaged to dislodge the piercing from its location. If the piercing is an old one, it may be more difficult to remove, because tissues might have grown on the plate area.
After a piercing is fully healed, the beadlike top can be unscrewed from its anchor and replaced with a different ornament for variety.
Dermal Piercing Risks
The primary risk of dermal piercing is tissue damage, especially when the piercing is done by a person other than a professional piercer. The dermal layer contains nerves and blood vessels, which may be damaged when the piercing is not installed properly. If the piercing is installed too deeply in the skin, it may pull the skin layers together, which is called embedding. If the piercing is too shallow, it can migrate. During the several months it may take for the piercing to heal, it is important to avoid twisting or pulling the implant, or snagging it on clothing or towels.
Another risk is the development of bacterial infection. Infection can happen when equipment used for piercing is not sterilized, or when the piercing is not cleaned regularly. An infection of the deeper layers of the skin and fat, called cellulitis, may be caused by airborne bacteria infecting the piercing location while the procedure is done. An infection is manifested by inflammation of the surrounding area: redness, rash, pus, and/or pain.
Another risk is that the piercing may be rejected by the body, causing an immune response in the area of the piercing. It is recommended that the piercings be made with titanium rather than stainless steel. Titanium is often used in surgeries and medical procedures, because its potential for rejection by the body is low.
NOTE: Please consult a dermatologist if you see any infection, rash, or any other side effect after a dermal piercing.
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