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Find out everything you need to know about surface piercings and skin-divers.

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Written by mikey, body piercer

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Is a professionally-trained body piercer
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Has (or has had) this piercing themselves (first-hand experience)
Like all cosmetic procedures, there are risks associated with body piercings. Read our disclaimer

What are surface piercings?

Surface piercings, otherwise known as skin-divers, are a type of piercing that dives underneath the surface of your skin to make it look like you have two floating balls coming from under your skin.

Whilst they look awesome, more often than not they usually end up rejecting and you’ll need to take them out after a while, so I tend to recommend getting dermal implants these days.

How do surface piercings work?

Surface piercings usually refer to any type of piercing that dives underneath your skin and comes out on the same side. Curve-shaped barbell jewelry is usually used for most surface piercings so it can sit deeper under your skin. The simplified illustration below shows how a curved barbell would sit underneath your skin.

Surface piercing under skin
Surface piercing illustration: How it sits under your skin with curved barbell jewelry

Types and names of surface piercings

Here are some of the most popular skin-diver piercing placements you’ll come across:

  • Anti-eyebrow (Top of cheek): An angled barbell underneath your eye, usually at the top of your cheekbone.
  • Belly button (Navel): A piercing that goes through any edge of the rim of your belly button.
  • Chest (Sternum): A vertical barbell between your breasts. These are a lot more popular with women than men.
  • Collar bone: A barbell that runs perpendicular with along or above where your collarbones are.
  • Corset: A truly awesome series of multiple piercings on either side of your back in a vertical formation, where a ribbon or similar material is linked between them all to make it look like a corset.
  • Eyebrow: A bar that usually enters under the bottom of your eyebrow and comes out above it. It’s definitely the most popular surface piercing.
  • Finger: On the top-side of your fingers (the same side as your fingernails).
  • Hip: Along/beside your pelvic bone just above your belt line, normally angled parallel with the bone.
  • Nape: In the centre on the back of your neck.
  • Surface tragus: A vertical piercing in front of your tragus, the small flap of cartilage attached to your head just in front of your ear canal.
  • Third-eye: Either a vertical surface piercing or dermal just above your nose between your eyebrows.
  • Tongue (Snake eyes): A bar that goes horizontally through the tip of your tongue.
  • Transverse lobe: A straight bar that goes through a portion of your earlobe sideways, instead of front to back.
  • Wrist: On the outside of your wrist, not the inside. Usually placed just up the arm a tiny bit away from the fold to reduce irritation.

Types of face surface piercings

From the list above, these are the most popular face and ear surface piercings:

  • Eyebrow
  • Anti-eyebrow
  • Surface tragus
  • Third-eye
  • Tongue (Snake eyes)
  • Transverse lobe

What’s the difference between a surface piercing and a dermal piercing?

A surface piercing is a piercing that has more than one entry and exit point and the piercing is done with a needle, whereas a dermal piercing has a single point of entry and uses special jewelry called a dermal anchor whiched is placed under your skin using a medical tool called a biopsy punch.

Surface piercing rejection

The harsh reality is that surface piercings are very susceptable to rejection (also referred to as migration), which means your body will try to push it out. The reason why surface piercings are more susceptable to this is because they often go through a lot less skin than regular piercings and your body naturally tries to push them out. The closer they are to the surface, the more likely your body will be able to push it out.

Good piercers will perform what we call the “pinch test” on you before we agree to do the piercing to see if your surface piercing is likely to last. If the piercing is going to be too shallow, a good piercer should recommend to either get a dermal piercing or a completely different piercing instead.

Surface piercings that reject will either leave two scars that look like perpendicular lines, or if it fully migrates it will end up being one long scar.

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