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Extreme Body Mod: Surface Piercings

I've had my nostril, tongue, belly button, multiple ear cartilage, & a few unmentionables pierced.

Placing surface piercings in areas of high impact should be avoided

Placing surface piercings in areas of high impact should be avoided

As opposed to a traditional nose or tongue piercing, a surface piercing has both entrance and exit holes that go through a flat area of skin such as the arm, leg or sternum. Corset piercings are one popular type of surface piercing, and according to the BMEzine Encyclopedia, "Most surface piercings fail, not because surface piercings are impossible, but because there are a lot of totally incompetent piercers out there that don't understand how the body heals." Most uneducated body piercers will try to do surface piercings with the straight or curved metal bars used in regular piercings. This almost always fails because the jewelry is so inflexible that it migrates around the skin as it is rejected by the body, resulting in extreme irritation and possible scarring. Because most corset piercings are intended for play purposes only, they are usually removed after several hours or days.

If you're interested in a permanent surface piercing, however, find a reputable piercer who uses surface bars for the piercing. Surface bars are staple-shaped jewelry created especially for surface piercings because their design promotes the body's natural healing process. They are considered to be the only acceptable option for surface piercings.

Another, less-recommended route is flexible jewelry such as Tygon-based bars or Teflon tubing. Although these types of jewelry are designed to move with the body and are intended to decrease pressure on the wound, they are not as reliable as surface bars. If you are getting pierced by an inexperienced piercer, your surface piercing will almost always run the risk of surface piercing rejection. Beginning on the outside and working it's way in, surface piercing rejection is a result of the body attempting to push out a foreign object in much the same way it would a splinter.

There are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of rejection. For example, placing a surface piercing on a part of the body that often comes in contact with bra straps, waistbands or belts will practically ensure failure due to the constant impact and rubbing. Try to avoid getting a surface piercing on your hands, forearms, shins or stomach. Keep piercings under two inches long to allow for proper drainage, and place it on an area that does not experience a lot of motion.

BMEzine recommends drawing a line on your skin where you want the piercing to go and then moving the area as much as possible. If the line stays straight no matter how much you contort your skin, then it's a viable location for a surface piercing. Piercing on areas where the skin is tight is another bad idea because this puts excessive pressure on the piercing. The sternum piercing shown here is an example of this.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Jaclyn Popola


Dani on July 30, 2016:

I got my anti eyebrow pierced a week ago . and the swelling went down & black eye going away good . but it feels weird and I don't know if it bc the swelling went down & I can feel the piercing in my skin now? Or is it rejection? I'm scared it is . but it might just be healing signs . . help.... I can't see the bar , but if I Rub across it . I can't feel it . but I think that's normal bc I had a regular eyebrow pierced and I could feel the bar under my skin & it lasted 6years until I decided to take it out .

If y'all know anything about a new anti eyebrow piercing please let me know . thanks

Lux on May 10, 2013:

I have a lot of surface piercing's including; Anti-eyebrow, collar bones, ribs and hips. Luckily i went to a very experienced and professional piercer to have them done. I have had my hips done going on about 3 years now and i still love them. Both my collarbones and my ribs are going on about 2 years and are looking great but of course still in the process of healing because of their placement. I will say when i am sick (from the flu or whatever) my piercing's always play up, becoming painful or catching more. So to anyone who would like to get a surface piercing, keep in mind you will have to take care of them, regularly bathe them and more so when you are under the weather and there is extra pressure on your immune system. After all it is a foreign body, no matter how long you have had it. I love my piercing's greatly, they are a part of who i am. They do take a good getting used to at first and care for as long as you have them, but they are worth it. I have just gotten over a keloid with one of my rib piercing's (my first keloid and fairly common with piercings) and i will say this, if you have a keloid and have tried a lot to get rid of it. Try pure tea-tree oil if you haven't already! I was close to removing my piercing, then found out about it, used it and it has now fully healed and is looking great. I have also just switched out my normal metal bars in my ribs for bio-flex bars. They were easy to put in and i don't feel them (which is normal but a little weird at first) but they did swell a bit. Fingers crossed they will help with the healing process. xxxxxx

Lucy Howard on April 08, 2012:

I found this article very informative. I'm 20 and have had my lip, navel, hips and a micro-dermal just below my eye done. I have always taken great care of my piercings and have yet to have one be rejected or grow out. For my next piercing i wanted to get my Ribs done, so i googled the odds of them growing out/ being rejected. I was very shocked to find that every article said they would DEFINITELY be rejected/grow out and was confused when i found article's saying this about hip piercings as-well. The article's explain that within (the maximum) of a few months (on average 3-4) hip and rib piercings would be sure to grow out. I've had my hips done for 10 months so as you can imaging i wasn't impressed. Reading this article helped me realize that there is a lot of negative views on piercings and yes there is always a risk, but if you take care of your piercings, plan where they will be placed well and go to a reliable qualified piercer your risked are lowered dramatically. You can have a piercing that can last you a long time as long as you do your research and take care of them. Thank-you to this article for addressing my confusion and concerns! :)

jessica on March 26, 2012:

maan I got my hips done with the staple surface jewlery and one seems to be rejecting. it's itchy and bruised. i recommend dermals to anyone. do Not get surface piercings

Kaylee ward on February 19, 2012:

So I got both of my hips done with the surface bar. My Piercer didn't tell me any of the risk factors. Mine have migrated a little bit and we had to go a size down I don't recommend the surface bars but I do recommend dermals. I have them between my cleavage and i'm getting them on my.collar bone tomorrow. I want to take my hip bars out and let them heal then do dermals over the scars...can I do that?

Kelly Rae on February 07, 2012:

I got my hip done, one side only though. because i like to stay neat and clean looking. i have a bioflex bar in it with crystal balls on the end. its super adorable and it healed just fine. no rejection, just note mine isn't right on my hip its a little higher so nothing rubs it. :) id reccomond it. plus it didn't even hurt :)

MOM on January 06, 2012:

Well kids - this is your mother here - I got MY belly button done like 18 yrs ago and it is JUST NOW rejecting - I think it's because I was wearing higher waisted pants over the past week so I've pulled the ring for the moment and will have to see if I can find lower waisted stuff again for a bit - but the point is - A ring can reject at ANY TIME - just because it's antique doesn't make it immune from the issue of friction. I started getting pierced 22 yrs ago - I have 5 holes all of which are below the waist - I had 6 but lost one long ago immediately after it was done - and until NOW had had NO problem with the rest of them. so do NOT think you are immune and my rings, are all gold which is supposed to be the LEAST likely to reject ... it's the friction of the waistbands I'm sure of it but it's itchy, red, weepy - it's rejecting.if you think a ring is rejecting tho and it's OLD - pull it immediately and you WILL save your hole - let it heal properly - use the feeder rings to reinsert if you need to and then work to ensure the problem does NOT repeat - my way way way back rejected ring = was an inner labia ring which was brand new and the MOMENT that ring came out the relief was instant - I lost the hole, but gained my sanity. THIS one feels pretty much the same so I'm playing it safe and hoping I can save this mess before it gets ugly. you CAN stop a rejection, but you HAVE to pull the ring to do it. and if it's a new ring, you will lose the hole for sure if it's old and you get i tout FAST before the INTERIOR of the piercing "rots out" it SHOULD heal up ok - retain the hole and allow a "restart" - do not be afraid to pull your rings out!!!!!

Tarynn on January 05, 2012:

I really want hip dermals can anyone give me info on those!?

Bri on November 26, 2011:

Debating wheather or not I should get my hips peirced with a surface bar. Its my first piercing other than my ears and a couple piercers have been trying to convince me to just get a dermal because a lot of the time it will reject &leave ugly scars & the healing process is a bitch. But I LOVE the look of the surface bars. I also play soccer so I'm not sure if that will affect the healing process much?

ally on November 03, 2011:

I just got my anti eyebrow and its bruised and sore im scared of it rejecting

dakota on October 17, 2011:

I got my sternum AKA cleavage done about 3 days ago and it REALLY hurt. i have 5 piercings, and 3 tattoos and i found the cleavage hurt more than any of my tattoos did, needless to say more than the rest of my piercings as well. however i think it looks awesome. it didn't swell up, but it did get really red. Its still red, and there is some crusties by the wound. it kinda hurts a little still, but doesn't look bad at all. looks like its healing very well. my piercer told me NOT to go around without a bra on because it drags the piercing down and it shouldn't have that extra weight put onto it, AND to NOT sleep on my side cause the breast move together leaving the piercing unable to breath... aka heal properly. Anyone else have any tips on healing it ?

sa on September 25, 2011:

im planning to get my nape done. but by reading the rejection risks im terrified! i called the piercer n he's planing to use bioflex instead or surface bars cs he said that its more flexible. what do you guys think? im getting it done tomorrow. should a bioflex be okay or should i find a place that uses a surface bar?

Cherryb on September 19, 2011:

Can anyone tell me ... can I get my ankle pierced ?

Sarah on September 10, 2011:

I got my wrist pierced about 2 weeks ago. It's been done with a surface bar and the place I got it done were amazing. However, now it's turned red around the holes, though isn't as sore as it was. Is it just healing or rejecting. I've been cleaning it with low vol peroxide. I've got quite a few piercings, but this is my first surface piercing.

Any advice? X

toni on September 07, 2011:

i got a surface nape piercing today, it looks amazing!

J on September 07, 2011:

I had my hip pirced 2 weeks ago, and it has been fine. I have been doing the egg cup with warm salt water. But the last couple of days around one of the balls its got a red/pink circle, and feels very swolen. I had this done two years ago and this didn't happen.

I'm not sure what to do? I don't know if it is growing out, or ive just knocked it and its trying to heal..

Any pointers will be good?


k on August 26, 2011:

i had A surface piercing 2 days ago on my boob, it is quite bruised but no more problems apart to touch now and again, cud someone tell me if its normal, ive got quite a few piercings and dotn remember having any bruising with them

Stephanie on August 20, 2011:

I Have My Anti-Eyebrow Peirced Which Is A Peircing Under The Eye . Ive Had It For 3 Months Already & It Took A While To Heal Because It Would Always Accidentally Get Tugged On It Wasz Swollen & Red Tha First Few Weeks But Tha Redness & Swelling Left It Has Healed Already . & The Actually Peircing Didn't Hurt 2 Bad Just A Pinch

hunter on July 24, 2011:

i really want my cleavage aka sternum pierced! but im really really afraid of it hurting and im afraid if i get it its going to reject bc my skin is tight around my boob area

Tes on May 18, 2011:

I love piercings!

i've done my tongue,belly,eyebrow,nose and chest,tragus and wrist and now i wanna do my nape but the funny thing is i still haven't even done my ear lobes yet ... funny huh

I REALLY WANT A NAPE PIERCING BADLY! is it true it doesn't last long?

Danae on May 16, 2011:

I just got a naval surcace piercing and my piercer used a curved barbell. Is this most likely to reject? Is there anyway to replace it with a staple bar?

jessica on February 16, 2011:

i would like to know where to get the nape bar from i want a nice jewelled one as i want it to look girly lol

Mary on January 18, 2011:

Brandon - Thank you so much for the info :) and I can let you know that they haven't rejected as of yet which is a good thing, but unfortunately I went back about 3 weeks later for another piercing and it ended up ripping out within about 2 - 3 weeks, which I must say really sucked, as it was one of the more expensive piercings :(

Shelby on January 11, 2011:

I got my Sternum surfaced and i am worried about it rejecting any tips on helping it heal i know it takes like up to 16 weeks but o well i have a life time of it

tiffany. on January 08, 2011:

Had surface bars on both hips they both rejected now they are big ugly scars. I wouldn't recommend surface bars. If anything do dermals. I have two in my wrist and haven't had a problem with them and I've had them for a year.

gashlee on December 17, 2010:

i pierced my sternum today, it hurt like a bitch and the jewellery was even more trouble, next time you get a surface piercing, thank your piercer, they usually make it looks so easy, im glad it was on myself not a customer, its sore when i lay on my side but otherwise i wouldn't know its there, love it!

slynn on November 12, 2010:

most of these are stupid! ha

ppl just don't know what else to do with themselves

Art on October 23, 2010:

I had gotten my clevage pierced about a month ago and I thought my piercing was healing because the swelling was going down, but turns out that my skin was just rejecting the jewelry. Sadly I had to get it removed yesterday. I think part of what caused the rejection was the bactine.

Brandon on September 12, 2010:


Your piercer should be shut down! It's very irresponsible to not go over in detail the proper way to care for your piercings, and also the risk associated with surface piercings. As far as first-piercings go, that one took balls!

You may find that they reject regardless of your best efforts to keep the area clean, it really depends from person to person how your body will react to a surface piercing. Some people keep them better than others. Keep the area as clean as possible, cleaning 2-3 times daily for the first several weeks and at least once daily thereafter. Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch your piercings. Once you've washed your hands run a q-tip under hot water and wipe away any crusties that have formed. Do not turn the bar move it at all as you may inadvertently introduce bacteria into the wound. Once you have the crusties cleaned away you can occasionally clean the area with a mild fragrance free gel soap but for every time cleanings you should use either H20ocean OR a mild sea salt solution. You can google it to get the proportions. I recommend making a decent sized batch so you have it at the ready. Good luck with the piercings! I hope they don't reject and never go back to that shop again, unless it is to smack that piercer upside the head. Clearly his has little regard for his craft or your well being!

Mary on August 24, 2010:

I got 2 surface piercings done about a week ago... there more or less in the crotch area, i love them but the enterance and exit holes are red and i'm worried they might be rejecting and i really don't want that, is there any helpful hints so that they wont reject? And as they are my first piercings it would be great to know how to care for them and if i need to turn them every so often. my piercings are both an inch long and are made out of teflon tubing, or so im guessing, my piercer didn't really give me any info on it, he just told my too keep them clean. If anyone could help me out that would be great. Thanks

Christine on August 17, 2010:

@Jasmine, If your body rejects it, then it can slowly start to come out of your skin...

sometimes someone's body takes it like a foreign object and tries to get rid of it..

Zoe Michaela on July 31, 2010:

i really want

Jasmine on July 20, 2010:

I just got a surface on my lower back and i'm really confused what it means to reject it. How does it just come out? Can someone please explain?

Mark B on June 30, 2010:

Just so you all know..... If you need to ever have a MRI done in the hospital you will need to take them out prior. Otherwise the MRI will take them out for you and that isn't something that you want to go through.... Just food for thought....

Finlaye. on June 23, 2010:

I'm not a huge lover of pain. my ears were fine. but My Aunty's taking me to get my cleavage done soon, out of ten how badly does it hurt?

crystal on June 18, 2010:

i had my right hip pierced for the first time about 5 weeks ago and then about 2weeks after that had it done again, just under it. And had one done on my left 2 days ago. And they are all fine, the first one was really painful and i couldn't sit down for 3 days with out being in pain but even the left one that only got done a few days ago don't hurt :) x

amyy :) on June 17, 2010:

i had my hip done about 3 weeks ago and iwent back and they said its going to come out soon :'( so i need to get a smaller bar bar but they saty it still could reject because my skin is too thin i love it thoughh!!

adam on May 11, 2010:

I had my hips pierced and i clean them about 3-4 times a day. iuse watered down mouth wash, but their dry. is the dryness a good sign? and theres dead skin around where the piercing is. is this normal? please email me

I have a bunch of questions anyone can help me with

abbie.d on April 02, 2010:

i have had my belly button done for a year now and thinking about getting a surface piercing under it,do you think it will grow out because my belly button is fine??


Tatianna on March 07, 2010:

I got 2 anchor piercings on my face about a year ago at the Tattoo Art and Expo. Now I'm thinking of removing them. What is the best way to have them removed. I am aware that I'll have a lil hole/scar afterwards. Where should I go to have them properly removed if I'm not able to locate the original piercer?

jane scott on January 06, 2010:

i had my hip pierced and i love it, its on it way to healing the skins just looking a bit crusty but not infectious. im 13stone and people tell me it looks good.

if it grows out it grows out. you only live once.

lindsay on December 30, 2009:

i just got a suface piercing on my clevage. It took the piercer a while to get the clamp placed and that was the most painful part. It is still a little red and sore but my piercier said its doing just fine. the only downfall is i don't particullary like the look of the silver balls cant wait till i can change to gems or something girlier

Char on December 01, 2009:

I love surface piercings! I have had my nape piercing for almost a yr now & it is wonderful! I would suggest everyone go to an experienced professional for their surface piercings. I went to Infinite Body Piercings in Philadelphia,PA. This shop specializes in piercings, Hell! thats all they do! My piercer used a surface bar for my piercing ( looks like a staple) I cleaned my piercing once a day with sea salt solution for 3-4 months & twice a week from there on. I went back to Infinite last week & they told me my piercing looked good & had no chance of rejecting soon because I was taking great care of it. It takes work but remember they are art sso why not put time into something you love! I promise it's not that much time. I plan on going back for more on my nape , to have a finished look of a star.

stephanie on November 18, 2009:

i want to get a cleavage piercing but it will be my first surface piercing and im really scared for it to hurt lol

DEB on November 10, 2009:

i got a surface piercing on my wrist about two weeks ago and it seems to be doing ok. i'm using a lot of sea salt compresses and saline washes. but i am worried about the bar - the piercer used a straight bar and just bent the ends up - so it doesn't have 90 degree angles. should i have the bar changed before it heals? and does anyone know how long it will take to heal?

cupcakery on September 26, 2009:

I'm going in next month to get an industrial and a nape surface done (on two separate visits). this is a great article, and the pictures are awesome!

pierced panda on September 18, 2009:

i got a surface piercing done underneath my bellytbutton, i'd done research but when they pierced it, they pierced it with a straight flexi bar. obviously i had like a million problems with it, and even tho i had the bar bent into a surface piercing shape, it rejected and i have an ugly scar. i had another done under it with the right shaped bar but it's already rejected enough to need to be shortened. i duno how to make these stupid piercings work! they're so pretty but annoying to heal and get right.

xman on July 31, 2009:

I had a surface in the back of my leg.. Takes 3months of it to heal looks wicked. have seen heaps more in some very cool places. Hands in the webbing, Palm, fingers.

Hans any one got any in there Feet? thinkn Ankle?

Jester on July 04, 2009:

i have a surface next to my left eye, ive had it for going on 4mths now and its healing nicely, and say healing because it takes a bit longer for surface piercings to heal, my piecer used the tygon to do it with and at first i was not happy because he made it longer but after two weeks i went back to him and we switched it to a curved barbell that is the exact length of the piercing and im completely happy with it, its now my favorite piercing that i have

~bAbiid0Ll~ on June 08, 2009:

ok so i want my wrist done but im super afrais that it will reject and hurt and stuff. because my ears did that a lont time ago but do the same rules go..?????

ryan on June 01, 2009:

i have snakebites, an industrial, and my ears are gauged at 1/2 inch.

piercings are an awesome way to express yourself, get some!

Jacqueine on May 22, 2009:

i had an anti eyebrow piercing about 4-5 months ago and i took it out due to the redness and the fact it looked like it was pulling my skin i think it would have healed fine if i would have left it alone so i was wondering if i could get it re pierced and if it would do the same thing

Ming on May 08, 2009:

I love the wrist one but "because of it's area of high friction/movement" it's likely to be rejected? >.< I've been really wanting it but i'll be really annoyed if it gets rejected. >:(

Shana on April 04, 2009:

I got my tummy surface piercings below my naval and my friend did them and they turned out AMAZING!

two barbells beneath the naval. ROCK ON!

myna;? on March 26, 2009:

OK so like I've been wanting those lip rings do u think it would hurt to get it done ?

AshleyVictoria from Los Angeles on March 24, 2009:

Very informative article. I have never seen those wrist piercings before...SO interesting!

R on March 08, 2009:

i have my naval, tragus, helix, rook, and left nipple and i think by far my nipple is my fav

D on March 05, 2009:

i got my eyebrow pierced and it got riped out it hurt so bad but i was wondering if i could get it pierced over the scar tissue and will it heal right? ps. can i put a shorter ring in right after because i hate starter rings.

BuBBii on February 18, 2009:

So i got my wrists done with a straight bar!!! Does this mean its too late to change them to suface bars??Do I have to wait for them to heal so i can get them redone?? i barely have a week with them.

amber on February 15, 2009:

i just got my sternum done about 5 days ago and i'm still iffy about it .. probably because i dont want to love it just for it to reject. i'd definitely say dermals over surface bars for next time .. im just impulsive and impatient! lol :)

Cerena on February 04, 2009:

I just got my sternum peirced a c ouple weeks ago and i LOVE it!!!! But I'm sooo afraid it's gonna reject, i really don't want it to =[

scazz on January 31, 2009:

ii love theseee.I got my hips done && my tragus', even though my tragus can't compare to these piercingss baha still awesomee (:

Angela on January 28, 2009:

I am going to get my cartilaged pierced for my 13th birthday

richy on January 15, 2009:

hiya gona get my nabe done but brickin it!!!!!!!!!!!!! most of these look awsome!!

kara on December 05, 2008:

i really want a cleavage piercing.. is it really hard to heal?

joss on November 29, 2008:

ive just had my neck done nd i love it!

Benby on November 11, 2008:

I've got a neck piercing, and im really tempted to get a stomach bar, about half an inch to an inch above my belly button, is it safe?

Shannen on November 11, 2008:

All of these are so cute i deff love the ones on the hips! SUPER SEXY!

welnia on October 19, 2008:

well i have one ugly scar 2!!

it sucks cus i had a piercing... it was on top of my navel and they did it with the straight bar!!! so my body ejected! =(

Sabaku on October 01, 2008:

Yeah, I'm planning to get my stomach/hips done next week

I'm still doing some mass research on it though. See if I really want it.. :]

Sammie on September 30, 2008:

Surface piercings are mad i have one right next to my eye but for some reason i never see them on the net...

kaitlin on September 20, 2008:

i had either side of my navel done (not bottem and top) and they regected, honeslty i blame the piercer i trust the studio i went to since ive gotten my hip surface done there and its fine ive had it for over a year. so now im left with and ugly scar.

Uruviel on September 04, 2008:


I don't see it like tattoo

the second is crooked -__-

emily on August 14, 2008:

Them stars looks like tattoo's tbh.

Uruviel on July 21, 2008:

Hi I love the nape neck piercings... I got one but I want other one... and I saw the last pic of NECK & NAPE Piercings Gallery and I just wondering if anyone knows where i can find the stars... it is a bar???

jessie on June 18, 2008:

this is good stuff to know :] i am getting my collar bone surface piercing soon, and wanted some facts on how to do it right.

chany on June 07, 2008:

wooww, soo nice

Lindsay on March 02, 2008:

i have a sternum and ive had it for 4ish months do u think i could change it and if so does anyone know what would happen if i a belly button ring in it?

ryan bradford on February 22, 2008:

i love piersings they are cool i do all mine myself

Isabella Snow on October 01, 2007:

I like these a lot, think they look very cool.

Jaclyn Popola (author) from Florida on September 30, 2007:

Oh my God!! I was always wondering who that was in your icon!! I LOVE that star-shaped piercing.

Whitney from Georgia on September 30, 2007:

I miss my surface piecrings... :-( They were on the sides of my navel. My piercer had done several surface piercings before, but the jewelry that we chose wasn't quite right. The bars were too long from punctures from the needles. I loved my star... Now, it's just a said top and bottom navel piercing. I felt odd having the standard navel, so we did the bottom portion, too.

 Surface piercings are very hard to heal. You shouldn't have them in high motion or friction areas which include any area where clothing can touch. The wrists are a common surface piercing, but they're high movement area, and tend not to make it. Same with the nape. This piercings can leave ugly scars... I still have the remains on my stomach, but they're slowly fading.