What Does it Feel Like To Get A Dermal Piercing?

When you think of a piercing, what do you think of? An earring? A nose piercing? Typically, a piercing is located in a part of your body that a needle can pass through. While this is true for the most part, there is also a special kind of piercing that doesn’t pass through your body and is simply anchored into your skin at a single point – they’re called dermal piercings, and they lie flat against your skin.

The most notable aspect of a dermal piercing, microdermal piercing, or surface piercing is that they are not limited by location. While a hoop-style of jewelry has to be worn in something like a cartilage piercing or a nostril piercing, a dermal can be placed almost anywhere. Common places for dermal piercings include; next to the eye on the upper cheekbone; at the crest of your cleavage; wrists; hips; and the nape of the neck.

It should be important to note that, while dermal piercings are not limited by location, they are surface piercings which makes them prone to rejection. Dermals can last for years, but they are often not a permanent piercing. With proper care and attention, a dermal can last indefinitely, but a high traffic area (e.g. a finger or your hips) where the piercing experiences pressure or friction can definitely contribute to rejection.

It’s important to remember with any piercing that everyone’s body is different. No two piercing experiences will ever be the same – each piercer has a different approach; each piercing is in a different location; and each person’s body will react a different way once it is pierced. There’s no one, concrete answer to how a dermal piercing will feel, but it’s still a good idea to do your research before you head in to get any piercing.

Body Candy reached out to five (5) trusted customers who have (or have had) dermal piercings. We asked them to give their first-hand accounts with dermal piercings. What was the piercing studio like? Did it hurt? Can you rate the pain on a scale of 1-10?

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Our hope is that some of these testimonials will help you to have a better understanding of what to expect if you’re looking to get a dermal piercing. Check out what our Body Candy customers had to say below:

Note: some of the individuals represented below have had their names/identities altered for privacy

Cheek Dermal

Kara J. – Atlanta, GA

I’ve had my cheek dermal for a few years now – I really like the way it accentuates my face and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

I have my nose and belly button pierced as well and have gone to the same piercer each time. I called her beforehand and made sure she had experience during dermals before I committed to an appointment, especially because it’s going to be such a visible on my face. I didn’t want to take any chances.

It turns out she did have experience during dermals, so I scheduled a day that worked for me and headed in. It was just like any other appointment. Head up to the desk, wait in the waiting room until you’re called back. She sat me in the chair, walked me through the process, and made some small talk while doing so.

As for the piercing itself, she cleaned my skin and made a small dot where the dermal was going to be placed. She had me check it out in the mirror and make sure I was okay with the placement (I was). After that, she laid me down and poked me with her needle. She used another tool to open up the hole just a little wider and pierced me with the dermal.

It hurt, but not too much. It pinched, but it was more of a strange pressure on my cheek than anything else. I’d give it a 4/10 on the pain scale.

dermal piercing

Yvette R. – Portland, OR

I’ve had my cheek dermal for about three years now. It’s probably my favorite mod (I have six piercings and about two dozen tattoos).

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I was surprised when the piercer brought out a needle for my cheek. I always thought dermals were done with a punch or a scalpel, but it was really similar to the needle they used to do my ear. Going in was a strange pressure, obviously, because who is used to having a needle put into your cheek. I think the pressure was worse than the sting though.

Afterward I was really, really careful when it came to changing my clothes and putting on makeup. My piercer told me to keep it really clean with a saline spray and not to snag it at all. I haven’t snagged it yet thankfully.

2 out of 5 stars on the pain scale for me.

Face dermal

Michael V. – Las Vegas, NV

I have stretched ears, a septum piercing, and more tattoos than you can count, so I was looking for another way to get a unique mod that would stand out. I eventually decided on a dermal on my cheekbone.

Vegas has lots of modified people so there are plenty of amazing piercing shops around here. I already had a good relationship with my piercer and I asked him about the dermal. He said “no problem” and I was in within a couple of days.

Honestly, it barely hurt at all. I was glad he gave me the chance to check out the placement in the mirror beforehand because I had him move it a little bit further down and I’m really glad I did. It sits on my cheek in the perfect place, at least in my opinion.

I give this one a 1 out of 5 on the pain scale. Really easy to get and no problems so far!

chest dermal


Erin H. – Kansas City, MO

I’ve always wanted a chest dermal and I finally got one last year. For me, there was no pain whatsoever. I have a high pain tolerance though.

I actually found the procedure very interesting. They removed a little bit of skin from my chest – like a really tiny amount. They then put in the dermal anchor and screwed on the top. They told me to wear a bandage over it for a few days. I ended up keeping it bandaged up too much (it left marks where the glue of the bandaid was), which was actually more unpleasant than the piercing itself.

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For me, getting the jewelry changed was a more unpleasant experience than being pierced. I give it two out of five stars on the pain scale.

Highly recommended! I love the way it looks and I always get compliments on it.

wrist dermal

Josie A. – Vancouver, BC

I got a dermal piercing on my wrist to accentuate a tattoo. I wanted the dermal in the center of my geometric piece because I thought it would really make the tattoo pop.

The piercer took a small scalpel and made a tiny hole for the piercing. I admit that this part was really scary, but it ended up being ok. It stings like getting stung by a wasp. I wore a bandaid over it for the next month or so. It looked amazing while it lasted, but I eventually lost the dermal.

I didn’t really take into account that my wrist is always rubbing on things like my purse or my pockets. It eventually started sitting in my wrist at an off angle, and when I went to consult my piercer about it, she told me it was time to consider taking it out. Luckily, it didn’t leave a big scar and my tattoo is ok, but I think it’s because I caught it in time.

I actually laughed through my wrist piercing experience. I got it done with a friend and her face turned white and everything. It really just depends on the person. This one didn’t hurt as much as my ear, but it hurt more than my navel piercing. 4 out of 10 on the pain scale for me.

Tell us all about your dermal experience!

Do you have a dermal piercing? How was your experience at the piercing shop? Would you recommend getting a cartilage piercing to your friends/family. We’d love to hear from you, too! Let us know all about your piercing experience in the comments below.