START DOING CORSET PIERCINGS PROPERLY
“Take calculated risks.
That is quite different from being rash.”– George S. Patton
Every time BME is updated I get many pictures of “corset piercings” sent in. At this point they’ve become one of the most popular forms of surface piercings, and for good reason — they’re a very pretty, sexy piercing that can be extremely complimentary visually. But when I get these pictures, I’m far too often struck with a mix of sadness and anger. Sadness for the women who are being tricked into mutilation, and anger at the likely incompetent, irresponsible, and in my opinion, negligent piercers who are doing it to them.
Looks great, but the beauty is fleeting.
Surface piercings are never easy to heal, even single piercings with well chosen jewelry and a good site. I believe that it’s usually an acceptable risk though — some people will walk away from surface piercings, even done perfectly, left with an ugly scar rather than jewelry embedded in flesh. But in the case of corset piercings, the big problem is that almost always they’re done not with surface piercing jewelry designed to minimize the problems, but with simple captive bead rings which exacerbate the problems and almost guarantee failure.
Yes, these piercings will look nice for a little while, but not long afterwards they will start to get irritated, reject, and the women will be left not with a pretty set of rings, but with two rows of scars running up their backs where the piercings once were. Depending on their skin type and how long the piercings were kept, these scars may be highly visible, noticeably uneven, and can stay with them for life — as much as they may come with good memories, they are likely not the result hoped for when the wearer first saw the piercings and thought how pretty they looked.
Rejection scars from failed body piercings.
The fact that corset piercings done with rings are not viable piercings should be known to all but the most inexperienced piercers. Certainly doing a single test piercing and following up with the client — which is required if you’re doing something new and experimental — would illustrate this fact. That these piercers appear to be either unaware of this truth, or willing to overlook it, is deeply disturbing to me.
Why do they do it? In my opinion it’s one simple reason: they want a “cool” photo for their portfolio, and they care more about that than doing what’s right for their customers. As I said, I believe that most piercers doing this know that it’s going to fail. Sometimes they tell the client “it probably won’t work”, but of course the eager young person that’s been fantasizing about the piercing since they first saw it is rarely discouraged by this wishy-washy warning — after all, they’ll take care of their piercing, unlike those other people it failed on. It’s got to work, right? But no miracle will happen. The warning’s not even true — probably won’t? More accurately put, this piercing almost certainly won’t work, will at best fail as anything but a play piercing, and at worst leave the customer with serious and permanent unsightly scars.
It is true that some people can heal a ring in a surface piercing, or at least keep it for a while. It’s very rare for it to happen without a great deal of visibly obvious irritation, but it can happen, especially in people who are older and have skin that’s lost its elasticity. But I’ve never seen anyone who can hold a dozen surface piercings done with rings in the long term without serious scarring and rejection problems. This is not a viable piercing done this way.
They look great, but if left in, these will not heal successfully, and will leave scars.
They may be ideal as play piercings and temporary ritualized beauty, but they can’t be kept.
Now, I’m almost angrier at people who use the “inexperienced” excuse. Any piercer that says “I didn’t know any better” is being negligent, since they are doing a piercing that they’re not only not qualified to do, but have done little to no follow-up with their customers on to see how surface piercings heal. Even living in a vacuum, all it would take is doing one or two rings as a test and watching them for a month, to show a piercer the obvious problems… but taking precautions voids the cool photo, and I guess that’s more important?
If you’re just doing the piercings for “dress up” on a special occasion (I know people who’ve had these for both Prom and Halloween outfits), then go for the corset rings if you want to. But then we’re not really talking about body piercing, are we? We’re in the realm of temporary play piercing, which while very valid, isn’t what this article is about (and I got a few angry emails from piercers when I filed their corset photos in that section, and if you read people’s stories in BME’s archives, most want them to be permanent) — this method of doing a corset piercing is not acceptable if the client has any desire for a piercing that lasts.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying people shouldn’t do corset piercings or difficult to heal piercings in general. The fact that I think anyone who lets their monkey drive at 200 mph on the highway is a fool doesn’t mean I have a basic problem with doing 200 mph on the autobahn — or with monkeys. After all, I’ve published articles on and perhaps even encouraged things as obviously risky and prone to failure as eyelid piercing. People just have to be responsible and do things the best way possible, and doing a corset piercing with rings is about the worst way possible. That said, they very much can be done right.
There is jewelry designed to deal with these placements — surface bars most obviously, which can be fitted with beads that have rings mounted on them, and while not quite as graphic in appearance, come close to the look of rings alone and actually can be healed. For other people flexible jewelry such as Tygon or PTFE-based bars have been successful, but I believe surface bars are a far better option. Even transdermal implants do better than captive bead rings. It’s still not going to be easy, and the piercings or implants will have to be babied for a long time before they can really be called healed, but at least it moves it into the realm of the possible and worth doing for something other than a photo or a two-day fantasy.
Done with proper jewelry, this piercing can be kept in the long term.
There is still a high risk of rejection, but it is hugely minimized.
By writing this article I may have guaranteed that a group of piercers and piercing fans who send me cool photos — which I enjoy as much as they do — will stop contributing to the site. I apologize if I’ve hurt your feelings, and I hope you’ll keep working with BME, but this has to be called out. Even if you know it’s temporary and are OK with that, too many people go into it with dreams of keeping them. After years of looking at these piercings and wondering how the client is going to feel when they’ve moved from jewelry to scarification, I feel it’s important to make this warning public.
Please piercers, don’t do something for the sake of a photo. Don’t put your portfolio’s cool-factor ahead of the welfare of your customers. And those of you considering difficult piercings — please understand these are permanent modifications to your body. They may look pretty for the first week, but is that worth a lifetime of scars that you may not enjoy quite as much? By all means, do it, but do it right.