Quick Take: Body Piercing Tools and Techniques

common body piercing implements

Even if you’ve been pierced multiple times, unless you’re also a piercer yourself, you might not be familiar with certain terminology. So without further ado, here’s a little effort to demystify some of those interesting pieces of lingo. Here we go:

Piercing Needle– There are a couple of things that make a piercing needle different from your run of the mill sewing accessory. First, the piercing needle is hollow, meaning that rather than causing trauma to the skin by displacing it, when you get pierced, the skin/tissue is actually being cleanly removed. Second, the piercing needle is made out of surgical grade material, not just your average amalgamated steel. Professionals will note other differences, but as long as you know these two, you’ve got it.

Piercing Gun– This one is good to know because it’s best to stay away from. A piercing gun is just what it sounds like: that little device that’s reminiscent of a nail gun or crafting bedazzler that you see lots of people getting their ears pierced with. Due to the piercing gun’s inability to be properly sterilized by autoclave between uses, the APP (Association of Professional Piercers) recommends avoiding them, even for ear piercings.

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Pennington Forceps– These are the set of forceps (sometimes referred to as clamps) that are used by many piercers to stabilize the tissue before a piercing needle is passed through. Other forceps may be used (Penningtons are the ones that have open triangular heads) or piercings may be done freehand depending on the piercer’s preference, but you’ll probably see these if you get multiple piercings so it’s good to recognize them.

using forceps to pierce the tragus

Needle Receiving Tube– This is another one that’s probably self-explanatory; a hollow tube that is held against the exit point of a piercing to “catch” the piercing needle after it passes through the flesh. Some piercers use them, and some don’t, but you’ll usually see them when piercings are done freehand, or without forceps/markings.

Dermal Punch– The dermal punch is like a decorative paper puncher, but with a sterile and very sharp rounded razor used to remove circular pieces of tissue. Some professionals use the dermal punch to create pockets for dermal piercings (single point piercings) or in conjunction with a taper or elevator to create pathways for surface jewelry. This technique is called “punch and taper.”

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Now that we’ve got the basics covered, it’s time to put our new-found knowledge to work. New piercing anyone?