Beginner’s Guide to Body Modification

Body modification is perhaps one of the oldest forms of “cosmetic” known to humankind. From the long-loved tattoo to body piercing, modifying the way that we look is something natural to human nature. After all, we can’t change what we were born with (without drastic surgery, at least) – but we can change the way what we were born with looks.

Most people interested in body modification or body art begin with piercings. Getting a piercing is a lot less stressful than getting a tattoo; there are no hours spent looking for the perfect design, and piercings are not as permanent so there’s less of a commitment level involved. Also, piercings are legally available to younger teens. I’ve also heard it said that they cost less than tattoos, but considering that a typical tongue piercing costs at least $50, I wouldn’t make that argument.

There are a lot of little things to consider when you begin your search for a body piercing, though. With so many areas of the body that can be pierced, you have to think about things like safety, pain, and healing.

Before you go out and get your piercing done, take a moment to inform yourself. This article will get you started in the right direction.

Top 3 Body Piercing FAQ’s

1. Are Body Piercings Safe? – Most body piercings are safe if they are performed by a professional. Professional body piercers know what to look for so that they can avoid harm to your body; things like major veins, which is a huge issue that your friend next door won’t know about when you ask them to shove a needle through your tongue.

2. Does Getting Pierced Hurt? – Yes. Simply, yes – it does. Some piercings will hurt more than others, depending mostly on what part of your body you’re having pierced. Also, some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, so no one can tell you what to expect. Breathe easy, though; most piercings take less than 30 seconds to perform, so the pain you experience isn’t overwhelming. One way that a lot of people look at it is that the pain is part of the experience, it becomes part and parcel of your piercing and becomes something akin to an accomplishment.

3. What Should I Get Pierced? – Really, that is a question you have to answer for yourself. If you are employed, you should check out what the rules are at your place of employment about what body piercings are allowed. After all, it wouldn’t be too fun to go through the expense and pain of getting pierced, only to have to take it out on-the-job and lose all the effort when the hole closes.

Choosing a Piercing Artist

I’ve already touched on the idea of how silly it is to have your friend next door sticking you with needles, but really âÂ?¦ I do feel the need to reiterate. In fact, this whole subject is so personally important to me that I can get quite worked up about it. What it all boils down to is safety. Your friends, neighbors, and general acquaintances don’t have the knowledge it takes to do a piercing safely (unless, of course, you have a piercing artist in your circle of friends).

So often I see that people take months selecting the right tattoo design, and then another few months deciding on just the right tattoo artist. Why is it, then, that so many people (often teens) think that it’s okay to allow just anyone shove a needle through your body? You’re at risk for disaster, including such scary things as blood-borne diseases like AIDS and Hepatitis.

Take your time in choosing the piercing artist you want to work with. Because piercings are not a lifetime commitment like a tattoo, it’s easier to rush into getting yourself pierced. Taking the time to find a good piercing artist will make things run much more smoothly, and you can confidently place your body – literally – in their hands. Make sure that you visit several studios before you make your choice, and check the piercing artists’ portfolios. If a piercer takes pride in their work, they will have a portfolio.

In your quest to finding the right piercing artist, talk to your friends. Most of us love to talk about our body art, and your friends can become a great asset in telling you who to trust – and who to avoid at all costs.

Piercing Safety

The following safety measures are something you really should take the time to read and remember. It’s your body, make sure that you’re taking care of it from the start.

Unfortunately, some of these safety measures won’t be identifiable until you’re sitting in the seat ready to go. By this time, you’re probably feeling nervous and want nothing more than to just get it done with. However, if you see something that doesn’t look right, or you don’t feel good about, leave. Immediately hop up and head out the door.

*Autoclave – When you’re visiting studios, ask to see the autoclave equipment. Every reputable piercer will have a working autoclave system for sterilizing all reusable equipment (which, by the way, should not include needles).

*Use a Keen Eye – Your piercing artist should always, without exception, wear medical gloves. Their hands should never come into contact with your skin, the piercing equipment, or your jewelry without gloves on. Ever.

*No Guns – Body piercings are never done with a piercing gun, squeeze piercer, or anything other than a clean, sterile body piercing needle. Depending on what part of the body is being pierced, the equipment that your piercing artist should use will include a hollow needle, clamp “scissors” (forceps), and cork. Nothing even resembling an ear-piercing gun should come close to your body.

*Sterility – The forceps, needle, jewelry, and anything else that will be used in association with your piercing should be removed from an autoclave bag, with gloved hands, in your presence. If you don’t see them pull it out of the bag, a long skinny pouch, you have no way of knowing that the equipment is sterile. No bag? Don’t feel bad about demanding your money and walking out of there.

After Piercing – A Little Tender Loving Care

Once you’ve gotten your prized piercing performed, it’s time to pay very close attention to the aftercare regimen instructed by your piercer. If you don’t do the essentials, you’ll prolong your discomfort, make the piercing take longer to heal, and possibly cause a nasty infection.

Seriously, your piercing artist should give you aftercare instructions. If they forget, ask them. Most studios have cards or sheets prepared that tell you step-by-step what to do to care for your new piercing.

Most commonly, you will need sea salt (not the iodized salt, but pure sea salt), an antimicrobial liquid soap, small disposable cups, and cotton balls. Always wash your hands with the antimicrobial soap before you begin to clean your piercing, and pay attention to your fingernails; all kinds of nasties like to hide under them. After cleaning your piercing, try to make sure that all the soap has been removed. Left-over soap will make your skin dry out and your piercing itch badly.

Perhaps most important of all is the show-off factor. We all like to show our new body art off, but be careful about the manner you show it off in. Body fluids (like saliva) should never, ever come in contact with a healing piercing.

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