Surface Piercings: What to Know Before and After (2023)

When you think about body piercing, do you mainly picture a pierced nose or earlobe? These are a few of the most traditional areas to pierce, but they're far from the only ones.

In addition to this type of body piercing, you can also pierce some of the flat areas of your body, such as your eyebrow, chest, or cheek. These are called surface piercings.

Once considered alternative and uncommon, they're now becoming more mainstream and accessible. If you're considering one, read on. Today, we're sharing everything you need to know about this type of piercing and what you can expect!

What Is a Surface Piercing?

As its name implies, a surface piercing is performed on a flat part of the body, such as:

  • Forehead
  • Cheekbone (anti-eyebrow piercing)
  • Eyebrows
  • Undereyes
  • Bridge of nose
  • Nape of neck
  • Collarbone
  • Chest and cleavage
  • Down the back (corset piercing)
  • Beside ears
  • Hips
  • Back dimples
  • Genital area
  • Pubic area

Additionally, a belly button piercing is technically considered a surface piercing due to the adjacent nature of the entrance and exit holes. In addition to piercing through your actual belly button, you can also pierce the skin above, below, or directly beside it.

Instead of going through a fattier portion of skin, the piercing skims just below the surface and comes out on the other side. The primary way this type of piercing differs from a traditional piercing is that the entrance and exit holes are not directly on top of one another. Instead, they are side-by-side and located on top of the skin.

Surface vs. Dermal Piercing

Dermal piercings and surface piercings are commonly mentioned in the same conversation, but there is a major difference between these two procedures.

Though they look similar, a dermal piercing displays only one visible piercing point -- the entrance hole. Instead of an exit hole, the piercing is held in place with a dermal anchor that's positioned beneath the skin. Alternatively, a surface piercing has both an entrance and exit hole, and both are visible.

Before the Procedure: Decide What You Want

Getting a body piercing is a major decision, and you want to make sure you know what to expect. Before your procedure, it helps to meet with the piercer to discuss your plans and the intended appearance you want.

(Video) The Whole Truth - Surface Piercing

Discuss Questions and Concerns

Take the time to talk about your initial questions and concerns before scheduling the procedure. One of the biggest questions you may have is about pain level.

Understand that the pain experienced during a surface piercing can vary from one person to the next. An experienced client with multiple piercings may be accustomed to the sensation and might not experience as much discomfort. On the other hand, if this is your very first piercing, your skin is sensitive, or you choose to pierce a delicate location, it could be more painful.

Discuss any concerns you may have with your piercer to ensure you're comfortable and ready before the procedure.

Choose Your Jewelry

One of the most important decisions to make before you begin is the kind of jewelry you prefer! You'll have lots of different styles to choose from, but some will be better suited to your body type and desired piercing location than others. Your piercer should be able to show you examples of common types and explain how each one works.

Ultimately, you want to choose jewelry that poses the lowest risk of rejection at the site. Otherwise, the healing and recovery process could be much longer and more difficult than expected.

Types of Barbells

For most clients, surface barbells (or staple barbells) are the simplest and most effective type of jewelry. These are made just for surface piercings, and they're designed to go through flatter areas of your skin. They consist of a staple-shaped base with two individual rises, which you can embellish with gemstones or special charms.

The barbell will remain under your skin. It can be changed out if absolutely necessary, although this can cause trauma and should be avoided at all costs.

While surface barbells are ideal for many regions, some areas of your body may require a modified version, such as the following:

  • Straight barbells
  • Curved barbells
  • Circular barbells

Your piercer should be able to recommend the exact type of barbell you need.

(Video) The Whole Truth - Surface Tragus Piercing

While straight barbells can work well in larger regions that have more surface space, they aren't always the best fit for smaller spaces. Curved barbells might work better there, but it can be challenging to make sure the curvature doesn't force the beads against the piercing holes, which can cause irritation. You can see examples in our Curved Barbell collection!

Once you have the basic barbell design down, you can get a little creative with the embellishments. There are different styles of charms available, as well as other adornments such as pearls, opals, or diamond balls. You can also select the type of barbell you want, with round-bottom and flat-bottom options being the most popular.

During the Procedure: What to Expect

When you go for your appointment, you may naturally be concerned about the level of pain you may experience. You might wonder if surface piercings hurt more or less than traditional piercings.

To perform a surface piercing, the piercer will usually begin by pinching the skin that the client wants to pierce. Then, they will gently push their needle straight through. This creates a double-pierced look that sits uniformly and flat against your skin. The piercing does not dangle as it would from an earlobe but lies tight against the skin.

This procedure is similar to one performed in fleshier areas, and should not hurt any more than a standard piercing. However, as with all types of piercing procedures, the location you choose matters.

If you get a surface piercing in a sensitive area, where the skin is a little thinner, you may experience more discomfort. Examples include the nape of your neck or a spot close to your eye. These will hurt a little more than one performed on an area with thicker skin, such as your chest or a spot close to your collarbone. Of course, an ultra-sensitive location, such as your genital region, will likely hurt the most.

After the Procedure: Healing and Maintenance

It's critical to follow all of your piercer's after-care instructions to make sure your surface piercing heals safely and correctly. Most clients find that it takes around one year for their piercing to fully heal. Again, this depends on the location of your piercing.

Why is it so important to take special care of your surface piercing? In short, these types of piercings tend to have a higher rate of rejection than those performed in fleshier tissue. This is due to the technique.

The aesthetic appeal of a surface piercing is in its flat appearance. It lies flat against your skin and does not go as deeply as other piercings do.

(Video) You should know This Before you get a SURFACE TRAGUS Piercing!

As it does not penetrate in the same way, your body is more likely to think it's a threat. In response, it can begin to reject it or push it out. It might become inflamed, irritated, or painful at the piercing spot, which can lead to painful scarring.

In many cases, you can avoid these issues by following a few basic steps. The top ways to avoid rejection include:

  • Choose a qualified and experienced piercer
  • Select safe, high-quality body piercing jewelry
  • Make sure the piercing goes deep enough
  • Care for your piercing by following the piercer's instructions

While these steps can lower your risk of infection or rejection, keep in mind that your body may still reject the surface piercing, even if you follow all of the requirements carefully. These types of piercings are considered long-term temporary, which means that they aren't usually designed to last a lifetime.

For most clients, a surface piercing will last around five to seven years before it loses stability. If you want one that will last a lifetime, then it's best to consider a standard piercing instead.

Taking Care of Your Surface Piercing

Due to its unique nature, you might think that you'll have to follow special, complicated instructions to keep your surface piercing clean and sanitary. However, most of the steps are the same as the ones recommended for all types of piercings.

Let's take a look at a few of the procedures that most piercers recommend.

Soak in Saline

Sea salt or saline can help keep your piercing site clean. Most of the time, your piercer will send you home with a specially formulated solution, along with instructions on how to use it. You'll simply add the solution to a small cup and dip your piercing inside of it for a set amount of time.

Once you've soaked the piercing for long enough, carefully dry the site and take care not to move or reposition the jewelry.

Keep Still

It's a natural instinct to reach for your piercing as soon as you get home. After all, the jewelry is unique and new! However, we encourage you to keep it as still as possible and keep your hands away from it while it heals.

(Video) 5 Things To Know Before Getting A Tragus Piercing 🤔

That said, there are some types of surface piercings that will naturally move, no matter what you do! For instance, an eyebrow piercing will shift up and down as you move your eyes throughout the day. The same goes for a cheek piercing, which will elevate each time you smile.

Still, it's important to minimize that movement as much as possible. If you're thinking about getting a piercing in a spot that moves frequently throughout the day, such as your arm, you may want to look into a dermal piercing instead. These offer a similar look, but the risk of rejection is typically lower.

Watch Your Clothes

As with most other types of body piercings, snagging and ripping are two of your biggest threats, especially when you're in the healing phase.

The issue is that many surface piercings are located in areas that are especially prone to snagging, such as your lower back and hips, which can catch on the waistband of your pants, as well as your belt loops. This also applies to piercings located around and above your collarbone, including the nape of your neck, as well as your pubic region.

Any time you wash your body, put on your clothes, brush your hair, or apply cosmetics, it's critical to avoid the piercing site as much as possible. This might seem like an impossible task at first, but if you remember to move gently, it should become second nature.

Avoid Water Contamination

During the entire time that your surface piercing is healing, it's best to avoid certain types of water. This includes:

  • Hot tubs
  • Pools
  • Lakes

The water in these areas can contaminate your piercing and lead to infection.

Maintain Healthy Habits

As your body is adjusting to its new addition it's helpful to fortify it from the inside out. Try to abstain from unhealthy practices, such as smoking or drinking heavily, to keep your immune system in top shape. If you find these lifestyle adjustments difficult to make or stick to, then you may want to consider a piercing that has a shorter recovery time.

Learn More About Surface Piercings Today

As you research the ins and outs of surface piercings, take the time to find a qualified and experienced piercer you can trust. The piercer should use premium, safe materials and be transparent about the techniques they plan to use.


When your healing process is complete and you're ready to experiment with new jewelry options, start with us! We offer unique, high-quality body jewelry at competitive prices. From eyebrow rings and dermal anchors to earrings and nose studs, we have it all.

Feel free to take a look at our complete surface piercing barbell collection today!


Surface Piercings: What to Know Before and After? ›

The downside to surface piercing is that it takes much longer to heal than ear and nose piercings. So, if you're keen on getting a surface piercing, make sure you're ready to commit to twelve months of healing time. But, the healing time is not conclusive. Some people heal faster, while others heal much longer.

Are surface piercings hard to heal? ›

The downside to surface piercing is that it takes much longer to heal than ear and nose piercings. So, if you're keen on getting a surface piercing, make sure you're ready to commit to twelve months of healing time. But, the healing time is not conclusive. Some people heal faster, while others heal much longer.

How bad do surface piercings hurt? ›

Often, to complete your surface piercing, your piercer will simply pinch the skin that you want pierced and stick the needle straight through. With this process, the surface piercing shouldn't hurt more than other piercing types in fleshy areas.

How long does a surface piercing take to heal? ›

Surface piercings are easy to take care of but they can unfortunately take a long time to heal. This is due to them often being in places on your body that endure a lot of regular movement and are usually covered by clothing. Therefore most surface piercings can take between 6 to 18 months to fully heal.

Do all surface piercings reject eventually? ›

Any piercing has the potential to be rejected. Rejection depends on the person's immune system and how well the piercing heals. But, the body tends to reject some types of piercings more often than others. Surface piercings are the most common types of piercing to be rejected by the body.

How likely is a surface piercing to reject? ›

Surface piercings are the most likely type of piercing to reject because they are placed just underneath the skin so can easily be pushed out by the body.

What does a rejecting surface piercing look like? ›

If the skin is looking thinner or tighter around the piercing, or above the jewellery, it's a possible sign of rejection. As well, the colour of your skin changing around the hole is another potential sign. Transparent/near-transparent skin is a very likely sign of rejection.

What are the top 3 most painful piercings? ›

Here is how much each type of piercing may hurt in order of most painful to least painful.
  • Genital piercing. Your genitals are among the most nerve-dense areas on your body. ...
  • Nipple piercing pain level. The nipple is another commonly pierced area that's pretty sensitive. ...
  • Nose piercing pain level. ...
  • Dermal piercing pain.
Apr 16, 2020

What is the safest surface piercing? ›

The skin above the belly button is generally thin enough to safely pierce as long as the piercing doesn't go too deeply into the belly button. Other areas that are less common but safe to pierce include the eyebrow and various parts of the ear, including the conch, tragus and cartilage of the upper ear.

Can you sleep on a surface piercing? ›

AVOID sleeping or having any pressure applied to the jewelry during healing (for example: after getting a sternum surface anchor you should refrain from sleeping on your stomach)sleeping / pressure on the jewelry during healing can cause discomfort, pain, migration of the jewelry, inflammation etc.

How do you sleep with a new surface piercing? ›

Use a U-shaped travel pillow instead of a regular pillow if you are healing ear or facial piercings. Cradle your neck in the center of the pillow and sleep on your back.

Can surface piercings get keloids? ›

Tattoo, body piercing, or cosmetic procedure: These all injure the skin, which means you could develop a keloid afterward if you're prone to getting keloids.

What piercings reject easily? ›

Surface piercings such as eyebrows, neck, nipple and wrist tend to be rejected more easily than other piercings. That's because they do not travel directly through the body, but rather along an area of skin because the jewellery is puncturing only a small amount of the skin's surface.

How do I make sure my surface piercing doesn't reject? ›

Preventing piercing rejection
  1. Getting a larger gauge, or width, may reduce your chance of rejection.
  2. Speak with your piercer about the depth of the piercing and the best size for jewelry to wear while you're healing.
  3. Follow all aftercare instructions. ...
  4. Stay healthy, eat well, and avoid stress.
Jan 5, 2021

Can surface piercings be permanent? ›

Do not get confused, these piercings are not permanent. Surface piercings do not have a traditional enter-exit point. That means these piercings are under the surface of your skin which makes them slightly unstable and unpredictable.

What causes surface piercings to reject? ›

"In the case of piercing rejection, that inflammation actually starts to move the piercing toward the skin surface and can even cause it to perforate out of the skin." Generally, piercing rejection happens if the body sees the piercing as a foreign object and, therefore, must get rid of it.

Do surface piercings migrate? ›

Piercings that only break through a small amount of surface skin—aptly named surface piercings—are most at risk for rejection and migration. This is because the less skin there is to help keep the piercing secure, the higher the chances are that your body will find a way to push it out.

How do you heal a surface piercing? ›

The best thing you can do for a healing surface piercing is a regular regimen of salt-water soaks. Soak your piercing at least twice a day—or more often if it's irritated or you're having problems with healing.

How do you tell if a piercing is migrating or rejecting? ›

The immune system may attempt to reject and move your piercing from its original spot to a new one.
A few piercing migration signs to look out for are:
  1. Consistent soreness and sensitivity.
  2. Skin thinning around jewellery.
  3. Jewellery hanging looser.
  4. Piercing hole appearing larger.
  5. Crooked entry and exit holes.
Sep 14, 2022

Can a rejecting piercing be saved? ›

Practicing good hygiene can prevent your piercing from getting infected or from migrating. Piercings rejected due to allergic reactions will usually need to be removed, but infections can heal over time.

Why is there a bump next to my surface piercing? ›

Piercing bumps occur when the body's immune system responds to the wound and initiates the healing response. This response leads to inflammation, which is what causes the bump. A person may notice bleeding, bruising, and some swelling at the site of the piercing in the first few weeks after getting it.

What does an infected surface piercing look like? ›

Your piercing might be infected if: the area around it is swollen, painful, hot, very red or dark (depending on your skin colour) there's blood or pus coming out of it – pus can be white, green or yellow.

What is the least attractive piercing? ›

The most attractive spot for a piercing is the belly button. The least attractive is a tie between the nose and the nether regions.

What is the riskiest ear piercing? ›

“High” ear piercing through the ear cartilage is associated with more serious infections and disfigurement.

What is the least popular piercing? ›

Uncommon piercings may be more costly due to the fragile nature of the procedures. A few more uncommon piercings are eyeball piercings, dermal piercings (pictured to the left), corset piercings, some genital piercings, uvula piercings, bridge piercings, and anti-eyebrow piercings (the latter two are pictured above).

What piercing is least likely to get infected? ›

Oral piercings tend to have a lower infection rate but when present are treatable with amoxicillin/clavulanate.

Should I get dermal or surface piercing? ›

For example, if you'd like a piercing on your arm, piercers often recommend dermal piercings over surface piercings. Since you move your arms quite a bit during healing, surface piercings tend to see more tugging and snagging, which can contribute to piercing rejection.

What piercing has the least healing time? ›

Top Five Piercings that Heal in No Time!
  • Septum Piercings. The septum takes from 1 to 3 months to heal. ...
  • Oral Piercings – Especially the Tongue & Webbing! The tongue takes from 3 to 4 weeks to heal, the lip 2 to 3 months and the tongue webbing 8-10 weeks. ...
  • Eyebrow Piercings. ...
  • Earlobe Piercings. ...
  • Genital Piercings.
May 31, 2017

What foods to avoid after piercing? ›

Don't eat spicy, salty or acidy foods or liquids while you are healing. Avoid hot drinks such as hot chocolate, coffee, and tea. Eat cold foods and drinks as they lessen swelling. Be extra careful when eating crunchy foods.

Do surface piercings swell? ›

For the first few weeks it is normal for the area to be red, tender and swollen. Approximate healing times for surface, navel and nipple piercing can be as long as 6 months to 1 year.

What is the Medusa piercing? ›

What is a medusa piercing? A medusa or philtrum piercing positions a stud in the center groove above the cupid's-bow of the lip. A piercer usually fits the piercing with a long labret stud. Once the piercing heals, a person can exchange the stud for a shorter stud to avoid causing damage to their teeth and gums.

How long to wait before changing surface piercing? ›

Some surface piercings take longer than others to fully heal, but generally speaking, you should wait at least three months before attempting to change your decorative tops. If you experience any surface piercing problems, you might need to wait longer.

Should I clean my piercing in the morning or at night? ›

Your best bet is to wash twice daily with a simple saline solution, morning and night, and then completely staying away from it at all other times. It could take up to six months to fully heal, so continue for as long as you deem necessary.

What not to do with new piercing? ›

Stay out of pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water while your piercing is healing. Don't fiddle with your piercings. Don't touch a new piercing or twist the jewelry unless you're cleaning it. Keep clothing away from the piercing, too.

How do you get rid of surface piercing scars? ›

Silicone gel can soften and flatten scars. It's an over-the-counter (OTC) product, so you don't need a prescription. You'll need to apply it on the piercing twice a day. Silicone is also available as patches and sheets.

Do surface piercings leave scars? ›

As with any piercing, there will likely be a scar when you remove the jewelry. Scars are typically minimal when the piercing is removed while happy and healthy, but if you wait to take out the piercing until it migrates, the scar tissue can be more extreme and unsightly.

What does a keloid look like when it starts? ›

When a keloid first appears, it's often red, pink, or slightly darker than your natural skin tone. As it grows, it may darken. Some become lighter in the center and darker at the edges.

What piercing closes the fastest? ›

For instance, nose, helix and cartilage piercings have a tendency to close up more quickly. "A tongue piercing that is less than a year old will probably close up to the point where jewelry cannot be inserted much faster than a year old earlobe, but you can't count on it," Saunders said.

How do you hide a surface piercing? ›

Use concealer or foundation to hide piercing holes.

Use concealer or foundation that's the colour of your skin to hide the hole and blend the area into the skin around the piercing hole. If the hole is too big to hide with concealer, consider using an eyebrow pencil to turn the hole into a small freckle.

What does the double Diet Coke piercing mean? ›

What is the creator actually referring to? The creator was in fact referring to 'Double Dydoe' piercing, not "Double Dyed Coke." The piercing involves passing through the head of the male genitalia, which can be very painful. The male genitalia region is highly sensitive, making the piercing rather painful.

How deep should a surface piercing be? ›

The piercing sits along the same plane of the skin with 2 'puncture wounds' that the jewellery leaves through. The piercing is quite shallow (2-4mm under the surface – you can usually feel the jewellery under the skin).

What is the hardest piercing to heal? ›

Cartilage piercings take longer to heal than earlobe piercings. The average healing time is 8 months, but it can take up to 12 months for some people. The healing process is slow because cartilage doesn't have a good blood supply. This means that it's harder for the body to fight off infection and promote healing.

What is the slowest healing piercing? ›

Nose. Nose piercings are notoriously hard healers, as they are a very sensitive area due to the nerves that run though. They take at least 12 weeks before being able to be changed, and even then, may need more time.

What is the best way to heal a surface piercing? ›

The best thing you can do for a healing surface piercing is a regular regimen of salt-water soaks. Soak your piercing at least twice a day—or more often if it's irritated or you're having problems with healing.

What is the riskiest piercing? ›

“The most dangerous piercings are the ones that involve cartilage, like higher ear piercings,” says Tracy Burton, a pediatric nurse practitioner in Ontario. “These piercings are associated with poor healing because of the limited blood supply to the area.

What is the most painless piercing? ›

A helix piercing is a cartilage placement on the outer upper rim of your ear. Because the cartilage is thinner on the upper ear, helix piercings tend to be the least painful cartilage piercing. They measure around a 4-5/10 on the pain scale and take around 3-6 months to fully heal.

What are the most damaging piercings? ›

Mandibular Piercing:

This is an extremely dangerous piercing to get done. There are a number of important Nerves and Viens in the area and due to the depth of the location, internal bleeding could occur.

How do you stop a surface piercing from rejection? ›

Preventing piercing rejection
  1. Getting a larger gauge, or width, may reduce your chance of rejection.
  2. Speak with your piercer about the depth of the piercing and the best size for jewelry to wear while you're healing.
  3. Follow all aftercare instructions. ...
  4. Stay healthy, eat well, and avoid stress.
Jan 5, 2021

How do surface piercings stay in? ›

The defining characteristic of a surface piercing is that it sits inside the skin, and does not exit the back of the tissue like a traditional piercing does. It is held in place either by a baseplate (microdermals) or a long flattened barbell (surface bar) that the skin and underlying tissue heals into.


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