A piercing gaze: Biscuit's guide to showing your metal!

Pierced by Sara Marx

Pierced by Sara Marx

Body modification was once reserved for ancient tribes and underground subcultures, as rites of passage or to show commitment to a religion or lifestyle. Now, flesh tunnels and neck bars are a common sight on most busy streets. Chloe Marshall shines a spotlight on piercings, surface piercings and implants…


Ears, nose, lip, tongue, eyebrow… All becoming more and more common. Even some relatively corporate employers are now relaxing their rules and allowing a flash of diamond on an employee’s nostril to pass without comment. Of course, if your boss makes the evilest dictator look like Bambi, you can still get your belly pierced. Or something a bit naughtier. A nice little secret to think about in a long board meeting, eh?

Surface piercings

There’s a saying “If you can pinch it, you can pierce it!” – and it seems to be true… Traditionally, piercers only placed jewellery where it could go into one side of a piece of flesh and out the other. A surface piercing, on the other hand, creates a piercing canal that transverses the surface of the skin, on a flat area such as the hip or neck. In order for the piercing to properly heal, the body needs to form a new skin tunnel around it. There’s a chance that your body may consider the jewellery a foreign object, and simply reject it, so a surface piercing can last anything from a few months to several years.


Microdermal implants consists of an anchor which is placed under the skin, with a step that protrudes from the surface of the skin, and the jewellery which is screwed into the hole in the step of the anchor. Transdermal implants, are inserted via dermal punching, a procedure which is as gruesome as it sounds. An incision is made and then the skin is lifted, to allow for the implant to pass through. A hole is opened at the site, so that part of the implant fills the hole, and part of it protrudes out of the skin. Since the part that goes under the skin is fairly large and has holes for the tissue to grow into, the tissue melds with the implant to permanently hold it in place. Subdermal implants are even more unusual as they are completely buried in the skin, and are used to create a shape above the surface of the surrounding skin. These implants are made of moulded silicone, which can make almost any shape; one novel type being devil horns on the forehead. You can expect to have plenty of stitches and swelling to follow, and you’ll need to be very careful to avoid infection.

Piercing technicians offer an increasingly weird and wonderful range of body mods, and are always developing new techniques to add to their art. But before you take the plunge with a new mod, make sure you’ve researched the procedure thoroughly. Be sure to check whether the practitioner is experienced and hygienic; they should also be able to answer all of your questions and offer plenty of advice.

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Chloe Marshall

Chloe Marshall is a London-based freelance journalist writing for the Huffington Post, The Guardian, Diva and of course Biscuit. Chloe loves to write about gender, sexuality and feminism, with a healthy dose of travel and culture on the side. She's into chicks, chocolate and cats, in no particular order.

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