Bedazzling Your Body – the Art of Dermal Piercings

dermal anchors

They can be called single point piercings, surface anchors, dermal anchors, or microdermals. Whatever you decide to call them, dermal piercings are the biggest growing craze in current body modification.  I think it’s because the possibilities are almost endless. These small surface piercings are done on flat areas of the skin with a single decoration per perforation. Popular areas to get dermals are the face, chest, ears, hands, hips, back, and stomach (but there is no limit). Multiple dermal anchors can be arranged in patterns or designs to create piercing projects and patterns. Dermals can also be a great accent when incorporated into a tattoo. The base of the mini jewelry has a flat plate with holes drilled in it (about ¼ inch long). The holes in the jewelry are there so that it can heal into the tissue.

tattoo art accented by microdermals

You must find a professional piercer with experience in dermal piercings because this process takes a lot of precision and care. It is a permanent procedure executed with a sterilized piercing needle or in some cases a small dermal (biopsy) punch. The piercer will massage the area to separate the epidermis from the dermis and the subcutaneous tissues/muscle. After that the area is cleaned/shaved and the entry and exit points of the needle are marked on the flesh with a surgical marker. Once the placement is approved the real fun begins. The L shaped opening is made in the flesh and then the jewelry is placed in the small pocket that’s been formed by the needle. The longer part is inserted under the skin first followed by the heel that holds the new piercing into the flesh.

The embedded jewelry remains under the skin for the life of the piercing. A short threaded post protrudes from the area that was pierced so you are able to change the decorative jewelry (known as a dermal top). When inserted correctly, it looks like the dermal top is glued onto the skin and will sit flush. Dermal tops have many different looks: gems, flat discs, dangling jewels, flat pieces shaped like cupcakes, stars, flowers, and more. It makes sense to me to think of the dermal implant as being very similar to a bedazzler project, but we’re putting studs and rhinestones on our flesh instead of our jean jackets.

the versatility of dermal piercings

Healing time is usually around 1-3 months; surface anchors heal fairly quickly and don’t really have a high instance of serious complications. Migration, rejection, scars, and traumatic snagging accidents are all risks though. Dermals are more in danger of being ripped out than surface bars but have less of a chance of growing out, and they’re much less invasive than surface bars.

If for some reason you decide to get your dermal removed, (possibly a new job that requires it, or even just that you’re “over it”) you can with the aid of a medical professional or your piercer. To remove a dermal implant, the jewelry is firmly grasped and the tissue kept steady and the jewelry is forcibly pulled out of the flesh pocket.  If tissue has grown to be connected to the plate a piercing needle or other medical tool may be used to get the piece of jewelry free.

removing hip dermals

Due to the fact that microdermals are a rather new and innovative style of piercing this procedure and the jewelry types used are always being investigated by the professional piercing community. In some states it is illegal to give or receive dermals, especially with the dermal punch method, because it is considered a surgical procedure. Piercers and those being pierced have to be very careful to stay up on their state’s current laws regarding body modification.


  1. Candace Valenzuela says:

    Hello! I just wanted to comment that my sparrow with the birds eye is featured in the article, and I would love if you would link to my piercer and tattoo artist, is JulHead piercing (Peter Cazarez and Robert Verduzco, piercers and owners) is El Clasico tattoo (Sal Preciado, artist and owner)
    so that many others may find and enjoy their work in the Los Angeles area! thanks!

  2. Thanks so much Candace! With all of this stuff just floating around on the internet, it’s so great to meet the people who are the owners of this kind of beautiful art. LOVE your tattoo and the dermal that goes so perfectly with it. Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for the info!

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