Body Piercing

Woman's waist with pierced belly button

What is body piercing?

Body piercing is a type of body decorating and modification. It is very popular and involves puncturing a desired location on the body in order to wear jewelry. There are many different kinds of piercing that have been around for a long time. The most common areas of the body to get pierced include ears and nose. Piercing is also common in the naval, nipples, genitals, eyebrows, lips and more. Some people pierce because of their religion and others pierce for self-expression. Some people pierce for pleasure or to rebel against societal norms.


The costs associated with body piercing varies greatly. Factors that determine the cost include where you are getting the piercing on your body and what facility you go to.  It is very important to select a clean and sterile environment to avoid infection and other health risks. Ear piercing is fairly inexpensive costing between $20 to $40.

The Procedure

Close up of skin held in piercing tool as needle is ready to go in to pierce naval.Body piercing is performed by creating an opening in the body using a sharp object through the area to be pierced. The person who is piercing the area will clean it with rubbing alcohol or another cleaning solution in order to prevent infection. Body piercing punctures the skin so sanitary precautions should be taken in order to avoid the risk of disease and infection. There are a variety of different tools used to create the puncture including a needle, scalpel or dermal punch. Many body piercing facilities use a bevel tipped hollow medical needle. The piercing needle may also be curved or straight depending on what type of piercing the individual is getting. The dermal punch is used to remove a circular area of tissue onto which jewelry is placed. For ear piercing, piercing guns are often used but are illegal for other piercings. Forceps may be used to hold the tissue that is to be pierced in place. The piercing procedure and tools used are different depending on where the piercing is. After your piercing the area will feel sensitive and a bit of pain. You should leave the pierced area alone while it heals, without subjecting it to unnecessary trauma. It is important to follow the after-care instructions.


Body piercing  can involve health risks if not performed properly so it is important to seek out a trained professional and a sterile environment to limit these risks. Some people may experience an allergic reaction to the metal found in the piercing jewelry, specifically nickel. This can be avoided by using high grade metals including titanium or niobium. Bacterial infections can also occur which is why a sterile environment is necessary. Piercings may leave a hole, mark or scar if removed.


There are three main stages involved for a piercing to fully heal. The first stage involves inflammation, during which the wound is open and bleeding. The second phase include the proliferation phase during which the body produces cells and protein to heal the puncture and edges around the piercing. This forms scar tissue as the wound closes. This stage can last weeks to even years, depending on the location and size of the piercing. The third phase is the remodeling phase as the cells regain strength and form. The remodeling phase can take months or even years as well. There may be white or yellowish discharge on the jewelry because the sebaceous glands are producing an oily substance which is meant to protect and heal the wound. There may also be a small amount of pus. The amount of time that it takes for a piercing to heal varies greatly due to the placement of the piercing. Genital piercings take the least amount of time to heal, whereas naval piercings are the slowest to heal.


There is no real follow up necessary with piercing unless there are complications. If you leave a piercing out for a long period of time you may notice the hole starting to close over, which means that you might need to get it pierced again. Keep an eye open for infection or irritation so that it does not get worse. If you notice pus or swelling contact your doctor.