Ultimate Faceoff : Dermals vs. Surface Piercings
The latest addition to the body piercing and body modification trend is the dermal & micro-dermal anchors. Introduced in the recent years as a complementary practice for body piercers and tattoo shops across the nation, we’ll explore in this article just what the benefits of dermal anchors and how they measure up to traditional body piercings as well as surface piercings.
Referred simply as “dermals”, these go-anywhere piercings are actually microdermal implants. The Microdermal Dermal implants came about as an alternative to Transdermal Implants, which tend to have higher risk for infection, rejection, scarring and healing.
The body jewelry used for Dermal Anchors are composed of two parts, the implant base which is placed beneath the skin and the dermal anchor top (which is what you see) that screws into the base. Dermal Anchor piercings are typically done with a medical grade punch biopsy instrument. As the name suggests, this instrument is commonly used by physicians to remove a precise area of soft tissue for medical assessment, or biopsy. The punch biopsy is pressed firmly against the skin to create an opening in the skin for the base of the anchor to be positioned for healing.
During the healing process, the dermal anchor should not be moved, scratched or exposed to unnecessary friction from clothing,accessories or other external factors. The healing process allows your skin to grow over and around the anchor base to serve as a stable base to hold the accompanying jewelry, that can later be changed out.
Typically, the lifetime of a dermal anchor is considered to be successful ranging from 6 months to 2 years. Some common factors that can improve your chances of extending the life of your dermal implant include sufficient healing time, amount of contact, movement and friction among others.
Surface Piercings had a bit of trend uprise in the mid 90’s. These piercings are recommended for those that have existing experience with body piercings. Surface piercings tend to be done on non-cartilaginous skin, which means that it can be done just about anywhere on your body that has excess give on the skin. Common areas include the back of the neck, the area between your thumb and forefinger, and other non-traditional piercing real estate.
The most common issue with this type of piercing is the high rate of rejection from your body. Area of the body that do not usually have tension under the skin, such as that from body jewelry used for a surface piercing, tend to naturally “push” against the jewelry. This is further aggravated when the piercing is in a location that is highly mobile, such as on your hand.
Something to consider for surface piercings is that they do tend to leave a quite a bit of scarring and depending on where you decide to get your surface piercing, anticipate on the amount of skin that is being pierced. For instance, when I had my surface piercings done below my navel in a horizontal orientation, the amount of skin that had to pierced on the upper most piercing was about 2 inches, 1.5 inches on the middle bar, and 1” on the lowest bar. That’s a total of 4.5 inches of skin that had to be pierced. If you are squeamish or have a lower threshold to pain, dermal anchors may be the way to go. Surface piercings should ONLY be performed by an experienced body piercer! This one was done by Shane Munce of Olde Media Tattoo, tattooist & piercer of Tommy Lee, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Shawn Clown who also earned multiple body modification awards. For this, go with someone who has the experience and confidence to achieve your desired body piercing style.
What You Need to Know
Great care should be given and full disclosure of the success rate and longevity should be provided by your piercer. Having a realistic expectations, both for a surface piercing and dermal anchors, are key in understanding the nature of these types of piercings. Cartilaginous areas of the body (such as the ear and nostrils), soft muscular tissue (such as lips), and mucous tissue (tongue or frenum) generally tend to be the best locations for body piercings that have a long term sustainability.
Besides the the rejection rates, one other considerations can include higher infection rates, especially if you become adventurous and place either dermal anchors or surface piercings in high traffic areas, such as the hands or wrist. Take extra caution to allow the area to heal properly by keeping it extra clean and minimize movement during the healing process.
One of the major benefits to having a dermal anchor or surface piercing is that it can be placed virtually anywhere on the body, especially with microdermal anchors. Areas below the eye and above the cheekbone is a commonly considered area. Common surface piercings include the corset and back of neck but imagination and your willingness to participate are the limit when it comes to experimenting with this non traditional piercing methods.
Go For It
Whether you decide to go with a surface piercing or dermal anchor, always go to a reputable, experienced body piercer. Prepare yourself for your new piercing to ensure that you get the best from your experience. Having the proper expectations of the lifetime of the piercing can properly manage your expectation and allow you to experiment and enjoy the many various piercing options out there.
Experiment to find out which types of piercings best compliment you and your unique style. Allowing yourself to take some risks with less then conventional body piercings is a great way to stand out from the crowd and create your own body jewelry trend. We’ve included a beautiful body jewelry and anchors to help get your creative juices flowing.
P.S. If you are not sure or simply don’t want to change out your body jewelry, don’t be afraid to bring your desired jewelry to your piercer and ask for assistance. They can show you the proper way to clean, handle and change out jewelry.
Dermal Anchor & Surface Piercing Idea Book