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Surface Piercings: What to Know Before and After

22nd May 2023

Surface Piercings: What to Know Before and After

When you think about body piercing, do you mainly picture a pierced nose or earlobe? These are a few of the most traditional areas to pierce, but they're far from the only ones.

In addition to this type of body piercing, you can also pierce some of the flat areas of your body, such as your eyebrow, chest, or cheek. These are called surface piercings.

Once considered alternative and uncommon, they're now becoming more mainstream and accessible. If you're considering one, read on. Today, we're sharing everything you need to know about this type of piercing and what you can expect!

What Is a Surface Piercing?

As its name implies, a surface piercing is performed on a flat part of the body, such as:

  • Forehead
  • Cheekbone (anti-eyebrow piercing)
  • Eyebrows
  • Undereyes
  • Bridge of nose
  • Nape of neck
  • Collarbone
  • Chest and cleavage
  • Down the back (corset piercing)
  • Beside ears
  • Hips
  • Back dimples
  • Genital area
  • Pubic area

Additionally, a belly button piercing is technically considered a surface piercing due to the adjacent nature of the entrance and exit holes. In addition to piercing through your actual belly button, you can also pierce the skin above, below, or directly beside it.

Instead of going through a fattier portion of skin, the piercing skims just below the surface and comes out on the other side. The primary way this type of piercing differs from a traditional piercing is that the entrance and exit holes are not directly on top of one another. Instead, they are side-by-side and located on top of the skin.

Surface vs. Dermal Piercing

Dermal piercings and surface piercings are commonly mentioned in the same conversation, but there is a major difference between these two procedures.

Though they look similar, a dermal piercing displays only one visible piercing point -- the entrance hole. Instead of an exit hole, the piercing is held in place with a dermal anchor that's positioned beneath the skin. Alternatively, a surface piercing has both an entrance and exit hole, and both are visible.

Before the Procedure: Decide What You Want

Getting a body piercing is a major decision, and you want to make sure you know what to expect. Before your procedure, it helps to meet with the piercer to discuss your plans and the intended appearance you want.

Discuss Questions and Concerns

Take the time to talk about your initial questions and concerns before scheduling the procedure. One of the biggest questions you may have is about pain level.

Understand that the pain experienced during a surface piercing can vary from one person to the next. An experienced client with multiple piercings may be accustomed to the sensation and might not experience as much discomfort. On the other hand, if this is your very first piercing, your skin is sensitive, or you choose to pierce a delicate location, it could be more painful.

Discuss any concerns you may have with your piercer to ensure you're comfortable and ready before the procedure.

Choose Your Jewelry

One of the most important decisions to make before you begin is the kind of jewelry you prefer! You'll have lots of different styles to choose from, but some will be better suited to your body type and desired piercing location than others. Your piercer should be able to show you examples of common types and explain how each one works.

Ultimately, you want to choose jewelry that poses the lowest risk of rejection at the site. Otherwise, the healing and recovery process could be much longer and more difficult than expected.

Types of Barbells

For most clients, surface barbells (or staple barbells) are the simplest and most effective type of jewelry. These are made just for surface piercings, and they're designed to go through flatter areas of your skin. They consist of a staple-shaped base with two individual rises, which you can embellish with gemstones or special charms.

The barbell will remain under your skin. It can be changed out if absolutely necessary, although this can cause trauma and should be avoided at all costs.

While surface barbells are ideal for many regions, some areas of your body may require a modified version, such as the following:

Your piercer should be able to recommend the exact type of barbell you need.

While straight barbells can work well in larger regions that have more surface space, they aren't always the best fit for smaller spaces. Curved barbells might work better there, but it can be challenging to make sure the curvature doesn't force the beads against the piercing holes, which can cause irritation. You can see examples in our Curved Barbell collection!

Once you have the basic barbell design down, you can get a little creative with the embellishments. There are different styles of charms available, as well as other adornments such as pearls, opals, or diamond balls. You can also select the type of barbell you want, with round-bottom and flat-bottom options being the most popular.

During the Procedure: What to Expect

When you go for your appointment, you may naturally be concerned about the level of pain you may experience. You might wonder if surface piercings hurt more or less than traditional piercings.

To perform a surface piercing, the piercer will usually begin by pinching the skin that the client wants to pierce. Then, they will gently push their needle straight through. This creates a double-pierced look that sits uniformly and flat against your skin. The piercing does not dangle as it would from an earlobe but lies tight against the skin.

This procedure is similar to one performed in fleshier areas, and should not hurt any more than a standard piercing. However, as with all types of piercing procedures, the location you choose matters.

If you get a surface piercing in a sensitive area, where the skin is a little thinner, you may experience more discomfort. Examples include the nape of your neck or a spot close to your eye. These will hurt a little more than one performed on an area with thicker skin, such as your chest or a spot close to your collarbone. Of course, an ultra-sensitive location, such as your genital region, will likely hurt the most.

After the Procedure: Healing and Maintenance

It's critical to follow all of your piercer's after-care instructions to make sure your surface piercing heals safely and correctly. Most clients find that it takes around one year for their piercing to fully heal. Again, this depends on the location of your piercing.

Why is it so important to take special care of your surface piercing? In short, these types of piercings tend to have a higher rate of rejection than those performed in fleshier tissue. This is due to the technique.

The aesthetic appeal of a surface piercing is in its flat appearance. It lies flat against your skin and does not go as deeply as other piercings do.

As it does not penetrate in the same way, your body is more likely to think it's a threat. In response, it can begin to reject it or push it out. It might become inflamed, irritated, or painful at the piercing spot, which can lead to painful scarring.

In many cases, you can avoid these issues by following a few basic steps. The top ways to avoid rejection include:

  • Choose a qualified and experienced piercer
  • Select safe, high-quality body piercing jewelry
  • Make sure the piercing goes deep enough
  • Care for your piercing by following the piercer's instructions

While these steps can lower your risk of infection or rejection, keep in mind that your body may still reject the surface piercing, even if you follow all of the requirements carefully. These types of piercings are considered long-term temporary, which means that they aren't usually designed to last a lifetime.

For most clients, a surface piercing will last around five to seven years before it loses stability. If you want one that will last a lifetime, then it's best to consider a standard piercing instead.

Taking Care of Your Surface Piercing

Due to its unique nature, you might think that you'll have to follow special, complicated instructions to keep your surface piercing clean and sanitary. However, most of the steps are the same as the ones recommended for all types of piercings.

Let's take a look at a few of the procedures that most piercers recommend.

Soak in Saline

Sea salt or saline can help keep your piercing site clean. Most of the time, your piercer will send you home with a specially formulated solution, along with instructions on how to use it. You'll simply add the solution to a small cup and dip your piercing inside of it for a set amount of time.

Once you've soaked the piercing for long enough, carefully dry the site and take care not to move or reposition the jewelry.

Keep Still

It's a natural instinct to reach for your piercing as soon as you get home. After all, the jewelry is unique and new! However, we encourage you to keep it as still as possible and keep your hands away from it while it heals.

That said, there are some types of surface piercings that will naturally move, no matter what you do! For instance, an eyebrow piercing will shift up and down as you move your eyes throughout the day. The same goes for a cheek piercing, which will elevate each time you smile.

Still, it's important to minimize that movement as much as possible. If you're thinking about getting a piercing in a spot that moves frequently throughout the day, such as your arm, you may want to look into a dermal piercing instead. These offer a similar look, but the risk of rejection is typically lower.

Watch Your Clothes

As with most other types of body piercings, snagging and ripping are two of your biggest threats, especially when you're in the healing phase.

The issue is that many surface piercings are located in areas that are especially prone to snagging, such as your lower back and hips, which can catch on the waistband of your pants, as well as your belt loops. This also applies to piercings located around and above your collarbone, including the nape of your neck, as well as your pubic region.

Any time you wash your body, put on your clothes, brush your hair, or apply cosmetics, it's critical to avoid the piercing site as much as possible. This might seem like an impossible task at first, but if you remember to move gently, it should become second nature.

Avoid Water Contamination

During the entire time that your surface piercing is healing, it's best to avoid certain types of water. This includes:

  • Hot tubs
  • Pools
  • Lakes

The water in these areas can contaminate your piercing and lead to infection.

Maintain Healthy Habits

As your body is adjusting to its new addition it's helpful to fortify it from the inside out. Try to abstain from unhealthy practices, such as smoking or drinking heavily, to keep your immune system in top shape. If you find these lifestyle adjustments difficult to make or stick to, then you may want to consider a piercing that has a shorter recovery time.

Learn More About Surface Piercings Today

As you research the ins and outs of surface piercings, take the time to find a qualified and experienced piercer you can trust. The piercer should use premium, safe materials and be transparent about the techniques they plan to use.

When your healing process is complete and you're ready to experiment with new jewelry options, start with us! We offer unique, high-quality body jewelry at competitive prices. From eyebrow rings and dermal anchors to earrings and nose studs, we have it all.

Feel free to take a look at our complete surface piercing barbell collection today!


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