Modification Appreciation: Going Skin Deep for Dermals

by Lorna
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dermal body piercings

Once upon a time, any piercing other than those of the ears or nose was pretty rare too see, and hardly anybody wore multiple visible piercings.  The times have definitely changed a great deal, and today modifications are very commonplace.  So which other once rare modification is growing in prevalence as we speak?  Probably several, actually, but most notably, dermals.

Most often referred to simply as “dermals,” there are actually three basic types of dermal piercings: microdermal, transdermal, and subdermal.  Microdermal piercings are by far the most common of these, as their swift healing time and rampant versatility make them very easily translatable across a vast array of modification styles.  Microdermals are what we call “single point piercings,” or piercings in which a single hole in the skin acts as both the entry point and exit point of the piercing.  Essentially, the skin is punctured just once with either a piercing needle or dermal punch, and then a base is inserted underneath.  A ball, gem, or design is then screwed into the base and becomes a decoration that’s visible on the skin’s surface while the base remains hidden.  Over time, the base will heal into the underlying tissue, and the piercing will be permanently fixed in place.

 ball, gem, and star microdermals

Transdermal piercings are similar to microdermals, but rather than inserting the base through the piercing hole, a small incision is made off to the side of the hole and the base is inserted that way and pushed into place.  This method is most often used in areas of the body where the skin is less malleable (harder to work with), or when the dermal base needs to be larger to support a more substantial decoration.

Our last type of dermal, the subdermal, is often thought of more as an implant than a piercing, because the entire piece of jewelry rests underneath the skin.  Subdermal designs are created when titanium jewelry of a particular shape is inserted underneath the skin, and the point of insertion is then healed shut, causing no portion to remain above the surface.  Simple shapes like hearts, stars, or horns are most commonly used for this modification because more intricate items can prove difficult to distinguish whilst under several layers of skin.

Lady Gaga wears faux subdermal hornsLady Gaga fakes the look of subdermal horns (source: WGSN)

Dermal piercings of all types have grown in popularity exponentially over the past decade and are only continuing to climb as more modification artists become well educated and well practiced in performing them.  New types of jewelry called “skin divers” have even been introduced to make complex designs with microdermal style piercings easier by including both a decoration and a base in a single piece. There’s no telling where dermal modifications will be headed in the future, because the possibilities are practically endless.

by Lorna

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