What is a surface Piercing? Well, a surface piercing is any piercing that follows the plane of the skin rather than piercing through it; essentially any piercing on the skin’s surface rather than through the skin from one side of the body to another, hence the term “surface piercing.” By general definition, some common piercings are considered by many professionals to fall under this category, like certain navel piercings and eyebrow piercings. Also in the surface piercing grouping are piercings of the nape of the neck, clavicle, cheek or “anti-eyebrow,” wrists and arms, nose bridge, hips, back (like corset piercings), along with many others; just about any piercing along a single surface of the body.
When trying to heal a surface piercing, there are a few things to keep in mind. First is, no matter what you get pierced with, that object will be considered a foreign object by the skin. The human dermis is a very well oiled and intelligent machine composed of many cells all working together. For this reason, if the body chooses to change the rate of cell recycling in order to force foreign matter out, there’s really nothing that you’ve done wrong; this is common and is called “rejection.”
Secondly, remember that because the risk of migration ( a piercing moving from its original starting placement) or rejection by the body is higher with a surface piercing than a standard piercing, extra care should be taken to keep the pierced skin clean and to avoid bumping it, rubbing it, or irritating it.
And lastly, note that if you do see sudden severe redness, extreme swelling, dark bruising, or goopy puss-like fluid, your piercer should be contacted as soon as possible because these are all signs of possible rejection. Rejection of surface piercings is very common and if caught early enough your piercer may be able to help you avoid any scarring.
As for trying to avoid migration or rejection proactively, there are a couple things you can do before even getting pierced to boost success. It’s always advisable to look for a piercer who has experience specifically with surface piercings, and who has photos in his or her portfolio of healed surface piercings that he/she has performed. This shows you that the piercer knows what depth to place a surface piercing at for optimum health and healing, which is very important. You’ll also want to be sure that your piercing is done with a surface bar. This is a U or staple-shaped barbell that’s made especially for surface type piercings and its design helps alleviate any stress or pressure on the skin, which will aid in faster and less painful healing. Always be sure that your piercer has the experience, know-how, tools, and jewelry that are required to properly complete a higher risk piercing.
Depending on the location of the piercing, you’ll want to wait at least six months to a year before switching out any components of your jewelry. For example: a piercing done with a surface barbell that has flattened tips shouldn’t have the tips changed out to gems or ball shaped tips until completely healed up, etc.
Many people who have successfully healed sets of surface piercings like to wear slightly curved jewelry once able, like short curved barbells, or horseshoe rings. This kind of jewelry is considered suitable by many professionals, but it’s always a good idea to ask your piercer about your specific piercing, what can or should be worn in it, and when (if ever) jewelry parts can be changed.