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Surface Anchor Body Piercing

Surface Anchors from Anatometal.com
This is a surface bar from Anatometal.com. Notice the flat contour of the surface area.

Surface piercings, as they’re commonly called in the piercing industry, have mostly lost their popularity. This jewelry design, introduced (we believe) in 1997, was revolutionary. It allowed piercers to place jewelry on flat surfaces of the body, placing both entrance and exit points on that same surface. The term “surface piercing” refers to jewelry placed on a single surface of the body. Piercing the back of the neck is an example of this.


Surface piercing by John Johnson

However, for most people this was not a viable option for long term wear. Most who received surface piercings with bars in those days aren’t likely wearing them now in 2019. If someone is still out there with one a decade or older, it’s not likely to be a healthy looking piercing. While it’s a nice idea, it’s largely impractical.

Surface Anchor from Anatometal.com

Then came the surface anchor. Surface anchors (sometimes called microdermals) arrived around 2005 and became wildly popular for the next several years. Piercers could now place jewelry on (unfortunately some would say) almost any surface of the body with only a single point. At first glance, it would seem like a great improvement over the larger bars piercers had been using. But they weren’t much more viable. In fact, removing them is often difficult. Piercers have sometimes told clients that these pieces need to be surgically removed, or some variation of this description. This should never be the case. Like all piercing jewelry, it’s capable of being removed, and any piercer with an understanding of this piercing type will be able to remove a surface anchor without any techniques resembling surgery. Anchors have been so controversial in the past that they’ve even been banned in some places. While these bans have been reversed in some areas, a lot of piercers never really understand clearly what their local regulations are regarding this piercing classification.

Surface piercing with an anchor by John Johnson

Whether a piercing client wears bars or anchors in their surface piercings, they need to be prepared for their extra temporary nature. We certainly don’t mean to imply the more traditional body piercings are permanent. However, surface piercings have a tendency to struggle more to heal, or remain healthy. This is primarily due to the lack of support that two surfaces provides a piece of jewelry.

 

This client arrived in our studio to have an 8 month old surface piercing removed.

With any new piercing it may take a few months to know if the client will likely heal and keep their piercing long term. Piercings can always have their ups and downs,, meaning some periods the piercing seems calm and some periods there’s irritation. Often times we describe the initial healing phase of a piercing as a roller coaster.


The image below shows an anchor after being removed. Once surface piercings start to reject there’s often little we can do to salvage the piercing. Saline products can offer some relief from the discomfort of inflammation, but it won’t stop the rejection. This means the jewelry is working its way out of the body naturally. It can be a slow process and may result in scarring. If a surface piercing is more than a few months old and not healthy the best step is usually to have it removed. Visiting a professional studio like New Flower in Long Beach, California is a great way to get some advice.

Here’s a surface anchor that’s been removed.

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John Johnson
John Johnson is a professional body piercer at New Flower Studio in Long Beach, CA. He's also a Red Cross instructor and authorized OSHA trainer. He manages the online curriculum for the Association of Professional Piercers and is a member of ASTM International.