The art of body piercing has taken off in a big way in recent years, and the basic ear, nose and navel repertoire of most studios has needed to expand to cover more exotic piercings. Here’s a short guide to what piercing different body parts entails.
Lobethe ear lobe piercing is often carried out with a gun, and it’s unlikely that there will be much bleeding. Multiple and cartilage piercingsthe ear is cleaned and the positions marked. Piercings in the cartilage area can bleed for a few minutes. These are usually carried out using the piercing gun.
Alternative ear piercings on inner parts of the ear are usually done with a needle as they can be harder to reach. They are not suitable for everybody, so you’ll need to ask your piercer for advice about whether you have enough cartilage in your chosen area to have it pierced.
Noses can be pierced through the nostril or septum. Your nose will be cleaned on the outside and inside, he position will be marked, and then small specialist clamps will be applied and your nose pierced with a needle.
The septum piercing can be extremely painful, and is carried out in pretty much the same way as a nostril piercing.
If you have an eyebrow pierced, after cleaning you’ll agree a position with your piercer, and then you’ll be pierced with a needle. There’s likely to be some bleeding but this should only last a few minutes. You can end up with some swelling or bruising that looks a bit like a black eye.
A tongue is usually pierced from top to bottom through the centre, although the tongue web can also be pierced in some people. The piercer will use a clamp to make sure that the needle doesn’t make contact with your teeth or gums. You can expect a few days of swelling with a tongue piercing and it can be sore afterwards.
The ‘Madonna’ is a very popular piercing, and is named after the famous beauty mark. It will be pierced off centre to one side of your mouth, and it’s worth pointing out that if you remove the jewellery, you’ll be left with scarring on your face.
A standard lower lip piercing can be anywhere along the lip, but it is usually done below the lip line and vertically central to your face. With lip piercings, you will be clamped into place while the piercer uses a needle to pierce the marked area. You can expect some bleeding.
In the UK, if you’re female you have to be over 16 to have a nipple pierced. Males don’t have an age limit. The nipple has to be erect when pierced in order to position the piercing correctly. The piercing point is marked at the base of the nipple, where the nipple joins the areola. You will probably get some swelling with a nipple piercing, although it’s not usually too severe.
The navel can be pierced at the top, bottom or side and the procedure is broadly the same for all. You’ll be lying flat on your back, and a clamp will be applied to a small fold of skin so that the piercing is accurate. You can bleed for a few minutes after a navel piercing – and you’ll have to wear a dressing over the wound to start with.
- Female – women can have their clitoris, some areas of the vulva and clitoral hood pierced, but as with nipples, there are laws forbidding this in anyone under sixteen. If you have an intimate piercing you will obviously have to undress below the waist. They can be very tricky to align and mark, and once pierced, you will probably bleed for a few minutes. Women shouldn’t have a piercing during their period.
- Male – men can be intimately pierced in several places – the head of the penis, foreskin, scrotum, and pubic area. These piercings heal quickly although there is likely to be some bleeding, and swelling may last for a few days.
Depending on how brave and experimental you’re feeling, you can choose to have a piercing in one or many places, and most studios are now quite comfortable carrying out the more unusual piercing requests! Always ask the piercer’s advice if you’re unsure, and think very carefully – all piercings leave a scar.