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Find out everything you need to know about dermals, also known as microdermals, dermal anchors and single piercings.

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Written by mikey, body piercer

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Is a professionally-trained body piercer
Has professionally performed this piercing on others
Like all cosmetic procedures, there are risks associated with body piercings. Read our disclaimer

Dermal implants, also known as microdermals, dermal anchors, dermal piercings or single-point piercings, are becoming super popular lately! In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about dermal piercings, including the most popular types, the procedure, whether they hurt, how to look after them, and loads more.

What are dermal piercings?

A microdermal uses special jewelry that has a special “anchor” that goes in underneath the skin. As it heals, the skin grows around the anchor which holds it in place. The procedure is done using a medical tool called a biopsy punch, and although that sounds pretty full-on, almost everyone I’ve ever done a dermal for has had the reaction “that wasn’t even that bad.” I actually believe the more word gets around about how little they hurt to get, the more they’ll continue to grow in popularity.

How do dermal piercings work?

Dermal piercing jewelry consists of two parts; the jewelry which has a built-in thread, and an ‘anchor’ which stays under your skin until you have it removed. The anchor that sits under your skin often has holes in it. This design helps hold it in place as your skin will heal around it.

A diagram of how dermals work: The top piece of removable jewelry with a built-in twist thread, and an ‘anchor’ which stays under your skin that the jewelry twists into.

Many piercers have different methods of doing dermal piercings, but here’s how the procedure normally works:

  1. The piercer will clean the area you’d like to get the dermal.
  2. They will then use a non-toxic skin marker to put a dot where the piercing will go.
  3. Once you’re happy with the position, the piercer will ‘pinch’ a large fold of your skin and hold it there until the procedure is over. This is usually the bit people say is uncomfortable, although it’s very important they do this to ensure the piercing doesn’t go too deep.
  4. Using a tool called a dermal punch, the piercer will then create a small hole for the anchor to fit into.
  5. Your piercer will let their ‘pinch’ go and it’s common for the area to bleed a little bit. The piercer will clean up there area until any bleeding stops.
  6. Using some special tools and pliers, the piercer will insert the jewelry.
  7. Finally, the piercer will cover the piercing with a plaster which should stay on for at least one week (I normally recommend keeping it on for two).

Regular piercings don’t use plasters or band-aids as they’re healing, but the reason why dermals need these is to hold it in place as the skin heals. Unlike a regular piercing, there’s nothing on the other end to stop the jewelry from popping out which is almost guaranteed to happen if you remove your plaster too early. Your skin needs to heal around the anchor for it to stay in. Anchors usually take at least a few months to heal fully, but after about two weeks it’s usually healed just enough to hold it in place as it continues to heal.

The anchor then remains under the skin until you want to get it removed, and once it’s fully healed after a few months you’ll be able to remove the top jewelry ball or stem to replace it with a different one of your choice.

A video of a woman getting a cheek dermal

Types of dermal piercings

Some of the most popular placements of dermals are:

  • Back dimple dermals: In the divots just above your bum on either side of the spine.
  • Belly dermals: A great alternative if you don’t have a good anatomy for a standard belly button piercing.
  • Chest dermals (Sternum): Most commonly between your breasts.
  • Collarbone dermals: Near or above your collarbones.
  • Eye dermals: No, not IN your eye! Often underneath the eye at the top of the cheekbone.
  • Face dermals: Usually the most popular area is towards the top of your cheekbone.
  • Finger dermals: On the top sides of your fingers (the same side as your fingernails)
  • Hand dermals: On the top side of your hands.
  • Hip dermals: Usually around the pelvic bones on either side above the belt line.
  • Neck dermals: In the centre on the back where the nape is, not usually the front.
  • Third eye dermals: Right in between your eyebrows above the nose.
  • Wrist dermals: On the outside of your wrist just above the fold, not the inside.

Do dermal piercings hurt?

Dermal piercings almost never hurt as much as people think they do. Almost every person I’ve done a dermal on has said it doesn’t actually hurt much at all. The main reason for this is that dermals don’t actually go that deep into your skin.

How much do dermal piercings cost?

The cost of these depends on where you are and what jewelry you choose, but the rule of thumb is usually that dermal piercings cost slightly more than regular piercings because of the cost of the jewelry and the tools used to insert it. In the UK, for example, the average cost of the jewelry is around 5-10x more than a regular piece of titanium jewelry, and the dermal punches cost slightly more than needles too. I’ve also found that especially in warmer climates, it can take a little longer on average to stop the bleeding. The cost though totally depends on the piercer and whether they’re ok with not charging you more for it, but don’t just go for whoever’s cheapest!

How do you remove dermal piercings?

Unlike a regular piercing where you can simply remove the jewelry yourself if you don’t want it anymore, one of the things to consider with dermal piercings is that you need to get a professional piercer or doctor to remove the anchor. Most dermals actually reject and push themselves after a few years anyway, but if it’s got to come out earlier, the removal process can be pretty uncomfortable and might require a tiny cut with a scalpel. Some piercers may not actually do this removal procedure at all and may recommend for you to visit a cosmetic surgery clinic instead just in case you may need a stitch to reduce scarring.

Can dermal piercings go in X-Rays and MRI scans?

Because the anchor stays in your skin, if you need to go for an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan, it’s incredibly important to tell your doctor and the person administering the scan before you start. MRI machines use huge magnets to scan your body, and whilst metals like surgical steel won’t be able to go into the machines, titanium and non-ferromagnetic jewelry is usually ok in most machines. Piercers should always use titanium jewelry for dermals, but just because someone says it’s titanium, doesn’t mean it is. For any dermals and piercings that can’t be removed, the people doing the scan will need to do a check first to see if your jewelry has any traces of metals. ALWAYS CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL ON THIS MATTER.

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