November 29, 2021

Guide to Dermal Piercings


When you think about getting a traditional piercing, many of us think about a nose ring or an earlobe piercing and not so much about the unique piercing ideas. Your typical body piercing is located in a part of the body where a needle can pass through the skin. However, there is a unique piercing idea and type of body jewelry, known as dermal piercing. This body jewelry and piercing don’t pass through the body. Instead, it is anchored under a layer of skin at a single point.

What is a dermal piercing?

A dermal piercing, also known as a microdermal or single-point piercing, is any piercing that lies flat on the surface of your body and is held down with an anchor installed just underneath the skin. Some people might mistake dermal piercings for surface piercings, but they are both very different from each other.

Dermal piercings will not have separate entry and exit points like a surface piercing, and like other typical piercings do. Instead, they sit just on the surface of the skin.

On the other hand, a surface piercing will have separate entry and exit points, and they are secured in place by using barbells. The decorative ends will be what sits on the surface of the skin and will be visible.

Dermal piercings can be placed almost anywhere on the body, which is one of the best things about dermals. You can even attach decorative ornaments to them, or you can have multiple dermal piercings done so that they form a pattern on the skin.

Some popular areas for dermal piercings can include:

  • Thighs
  • Lower back
  • Chest
  • Nape of the neck
  • Cheekbones

How are dermal piercings performed?

When you go to your piercing shop for your piercing appointment your piercer will examine the area that you want to get pierced to make sure that there won’t be any issues during the piercing process, and that it’s a good area to be pierced.

Next, they will sterilize the area using a surgical scrub and mark the exact spot where the piercing will go using a surgical pen or marker. Once the position of the piercing is to your liking, the piercer will use something called a dermal punch or a needle to make the small pouch in your skin where the piercing will be anchored.

Unlike a needle that separates the skin to make a hole, a dermal punch will remove a bit of tissue but is less painful and safer than using a needle.

Then, using a pair of forceps, the piercer will insert the base of the piercing into the pocket or hole, pushing the anchor all the way in until it is completely underneath the skin and in the right position parallel to the skin.

Lastly, they will screw the jewelry onto the head of the anchor and then you’re done!

Always Choose an Experienced Piercer

Dermal piercings are quite a complicated process, so you should do your research before you choose a piercing studio. Unlike ordinary piercings, a dermal requires creating a pouch under your skin which can cause issues if your piercer does not have enough experience. The dermal layer of your skin can be easily damaged if the piercing is not inserted correctly. Or, if the equipment your piercer is using is not sterilized properly, it can result in serious infections so be sure to go with a reputable piercer before you get a dermal piercing.

What is the best body jewelry choice for a dermal piercing?

With a dermal piercing, there aren’t a lot of options out there for jewelry but you can still customize and make it your own. There are unique and creative jewelry styles so you can change and dress up your piercing whenever you please.

The best jewelry for a dermal piercing is a dermal anchor and top. Anchors have a flat base that is installed underneath the skin. The base has holes in it which allows the flesh to grow through it as your piercing heals.

Once your microdermal is healed completely, the jewelry will sit firmly in place and will not be ripped out easily. You can use all different kinds of anchor tops, like metal studs, or magnetic gems. There are endless options, designs and styles for you to choose from, which can include simple titanium and steel discs, to balls, cones or flower-shaped tops. So you can definitely pick a piece of jewelry that suits whatever mood you are in.

How much will this hurt?

As with any other type of piercing, dermal piercings will have some level of pain and discomfort. Unless you have extremely high pain tolerance, you will most likely feel pain, whether that be a pinch or a more intense experience. Dermal piercings often feel like a lot of pressure but most clients say that it wasn’t as bad as they were expecting it to be.

The pain level will also depend on where you place it on your body. Think about the number of nerve endings in the area, the different thicknesses of the skin, and the area’s proximity to veins. These factors will all be helpful in determining how painful a dermal piercing will be and it will also help you decide on the placement of it.

What is the aftercare of a dermal piercing?

A dermal piercing will typically take between one to three months to heal completely. However, the length of time will depend on how you care for it while it heals. It’s important to keep an eye out for possible signs of infection, but keep in mind that it’s normal for a piercing to become crusty and swell a little bit.

During the healing process it’s important for you to follow your piercer’s instructions for aftercare as best as you can. This can help speed up the healing process and minimize any risk of infection or other complications.

Be sure to keep the piercing site covered up for the recommended amount of time. You will usually be told to clean the site once a day, pat dry with a paper towel, and apply a bandage over it. It should be cleaned using sea salt or saline solution. Be sure to carefully wipe away any crust build-up and always use a new paper towel to pat it dry so you can avoid getting any bacteria into it.

It’s important not to submerge the piercing in the water while it heals. During showers, partially cover the piercing to make sure that it doesn’t get wet. Try your best to keep it dry so you don’t slow down the healing time.

The healing process of a dermal piercing or any foreign object in you can be slowed down by factors that you might not have even thought about. For example, try not to get your hair tangled in the jewelry, or consider keeping it up when it heals so that they don’t get tangled. With clothing, try not to wear any tight articles of clothing around the piercing site so that it can breathe. Be careful when playing sports or high-impact exercise, since collisions with objects or other people are possible and might bump the piercing, plus the extra sweat can put the piercing site at more risk of infection. Be sure to keep your hands off of your piercing if you aren’t cleaning it, and don’t switch out the jewelry until it is fully healed.

How much does this type of piercing cost?

Dermal piercings can be on the expensive side, and they can cost anywhere from $70 to $100 depending on where you are located, where the piercing will be located and what method will be used. Some piercing studios might charge separately for the jewelry so this can add an additional cost on top of that.

When you are thinking about the costs related to getting this type of piercing done, then don’t forget you will also need to have extra for the aftercare of the piercing as well, such as the saline solution or sea salt soaking products.

What are the pros and cons of getting a dermal piercing?

Are you still having trouble deciding on getting this piercing? Here are some pros and cons which might help you decide:

Dermal Piercing Pros

  • Definitely a unique-looking piercing that not many people go for.
  • You are able to customize the piercing whatever way you want to, and you can try out different styles of jewelry, and different combinations and patterns.
  • Dermal piercings can be placed anywhere on the body.

Dermal Piercing Cons

  • Dermal piercings can be more difficult to clean than regular piercings.
  • Can snag easily on clothing and other things.
  • Can be highly prone to rejection, migration or scarring.
  • It can be more painful compared to other piercings.
  • It might not be socially acceptable in certain settings.

If you are planning to get a dermal piercing, be sure to put a lot of thought into it, because this type of piercing requires a lot of care and commitment.

Ready to Get Your Own Dermal Piercing?

Visit Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery in Ottawa where we have some of the best tattoo artists and piercers in the city who can work with you to figure out the best piercings for you. If you’ve got any questions about finding the right tattoo artist or tattoo shop, don’t wait to contact us. We would be happy to answer any of your inquiries.