A nape piercing is a contemporary surface piercing through the back part of the neck, just below the hairline. Surface piercings have a higher rejection and migration rate and must be measured and placed properly, so it’s very important to go to an experienced piercer for this procedure. Extra care must be taken so the piercing does not catch on hair or clothing as well. The main difference between a surface piercing and a standard piercing is that the surface piercing has entrance and exit holes that go through the same plane of a flat area of skin, such as the nape.
First, all of the hair and jewelry that is on the neck is moved out of the way. The nape is then measured and marked with a surgical pen. This is extra important with a surface piercing because improper bar size can cause infection or rapid rejection and discomfort, especially since it rests under the skin. This piercer placed the piercing slightly higher on the neck because Michele wears a necklace everyday, and he did not want the nape piercing to hinder that. The piercer then extensively massaged the back of the neck to separate the tissue, pinching it with his gloved fingers and the forceps. Deep Breath. Then the skin was clamped and a 14g hollow piercing needle was inserted through the flesh. The needle was followed immediately with a titanium surface bar. The low profile surface tops were then placed on the bar and screwed in. Michele has many body piercings, and she barely felt the needle. According to both her and the piercer (who also has his nape pierced), the clamps and tissue massage hurt much more than the actual poke itself.
Special jewelry is mandatory for this piercing. A surface bar is a barbell that goes under the skin; it is shaped like an open staple with a longer shaft and two shorter upright threaded legs. The threaded portions protrude from the skin and are where the balls or decorations are attached. The low profile balls or flat tops will sit snug to the skin. Titanium surface bars are the most common jewelry used for this piercing, because titanium is nickel free and is less prone to causing irritation. Tygon or PTFE barbells can also be used. Most nape surface piercings are done in two steps. The initial bar has longer rises to accommodate swelling and the second has shorter rises to be inserted months later once the healing process has taken place.
Another less common method for obtaining a new nape piercing is with microdermal implants. Microdermal implants are single point surface piercing where the base is inserted under the skin, the threading protrudes, and a decorative top screws into the threading and sits flush on the flesh. These piercings can be arranged in a vertical line, or placed symmetrically on either side of center of the nape to give the same appearance as a surface bar.
Due to the location on the body, piercing urban legends associate nape piercings with a potential for nerve and spinal damage. This is false. Nape piercings do not intermingle with nerve tissue more than any other surface piercing, and there is no risk of nerve damage associated with them.
As with any piercing, it is important to strictly follow your piercer’s aftercare guidelines. Nape piercings take around 8 weeks or so to heal. Because of the placement on the back of the neck, where you cannot see, it may be difficult for you to clean the piercing without the help of a friend. Just like all piercings, the first step for speedy healing is keeping the piercing clean and free from bacteria. Most body piercers will recommend cleaning the piercing with daily sea salt soaks, and also taking precautions to make sure that your hair does not get entangled in the piercing, and avoiding sleeping on your back during the initial healing period.