Different types of piercings require different piercing techniques and tools. Sometimes a receiving tube or cork is necessary to protect a client when piercing a sensitive area. When placing a surface barbell, you may need to use a scalpel to create a line in which you can nestle the surface bar. When doing a dermal piercing, a dermal punch may be a better alternative to a piercing needle. These are just a few examples of the different types of piercing techniques and tools required for various piercings.
The sections below will provide you with specific piercing technique recommendations based on each type of piercing your clients may request. You should use these tips simply as supplemental guidelines to the techniques your piercing master taught you during your apprenticeship. These piercing suggestions are not intended to replace a formal piercing education.
Note: Before performing any piercing, make sure you perform proper skin prep to protect your client from bacteria and other microbes that may be clinging to their skin. Read our Body Modification Skin Prep article for tips on cleansing the skin and applying a proper antiseptic prior to piercing each client. You should also don gloves, autoclave your client's chosen jewelry, and prepare a sterile field before beginning the piercing process.
Ear Piercing Techniques
Ear piercing techniques vary depending on what part of the ear you're piercing. Check out our suggestions for earlobe piercings versus cartilage piercings to ensure that you use the best technique for the type of ear piercing you're performing.
Earlobe Piercing Techniques
Professional piercers know that piercing guns are not the tool to use for earlobe piercings. Hollow straight needles or threaded needles that allow you to gently pull jewelry through as the needle passes through the earlobe will provide your client with cleaner fistulas that heal better than the jagged holes created by piercing guns, which force blunt studs through the lobes. When performing your client's earlobe piercings, consider placing a piercing cork or receiving tube behind the person's earlobe to catch the needle as it passes through, if you have any concerns about the needle poking the bony area behind the earlobe.
Most people will want to start at a 20g-18g size so they can wear standard-sized earrings, but 16g-12g may be more suitable for clients interested in captive bead rings, labret studs or other varieties of starter body jewelry. If a client asks to have their earlobes punched at a larger gauge so they can wear plugs, tunnels or large gauge earrings, use either a larger-gauge needle or a dermal punch, depending on the gauge your client desires and whether or not they want to be able to shrink their ear piercings back down to a smaller size later--something that's nearly impossible to do if a chunk of flesh has been permanently removed with a dermal punch rather than parted with a piercing needle. You can check out our How to Use a Dermal Punch article for tips on punching earlobes so you know what to do when a client explicitly requests that you use a dermal punch.
Ear Cartilage Piercing Techniques
Ear cartilage is tougher to pierce than tender earlobes, so you may want to use a needle pusher like the one shown to the right in addition to a piercing needle and a cork or receiving tube like the one shown to the left. Corks are especially helpful when performing cartilage piercings in tight places, like tragus piercings. In terms of jewelry, recommend labret studs or micro bent barbells for tragus and anti-tragus piercings, and consider our unique Unbreakable cartilage piercing jewelry for daith, rook, and helix piercings.
When performing industrial piercings, it's best not to try to put the needle through both hole sites in one swift motion. Instead, you should measure the desired distance, mark the appropriate spots with a body piercing marker, and then pierce each hole separately, using separate sterile needles for each piercing. Ask your client if s/he would prefer wearing two labret studs or captive rings in the two holes during the healing process, to avoid the discomfort an industrial bar can place on healing helix piercings when sleeping, when hair gets tangled in the barbell, and so on. Once the piercings are fully healed, it will be much more comfortable to wear a traditional industrial barbell like the twisty black and silver one shown below.
If a client tells you they plan to stretch a cartilage piercing, advise them that stretching cartilage is a very drawn-out process that tends to be less successful than just starting with a larger-gauge needle or dermal punch to achieve the desired size from the start. The only downside to using a dermal punch is that the tissue will not grow back if they choose to remove their jewelry later. Even stretched cartilage piercings may take years to close up. If the client opts to proceed with a larger piercing size initially for something like a conch piercing, there are a variety of conch pins available in addition to traditional plugs and tunnels from which they can choose. As always, autoclave the jewelry before inserting it.
Facial Piercing Techniques
The type of facial piercing a client wants will determine the piercing technique you use. Consult the sections below for tips on performing eyebrow piercings, various nose piercings, cheek piercings, lip piercings, and dermal facial piercings.
Eyebrow Piercing Techniques
Eyebrow piercings are fairly straightforward piercings. First, pinch the skin where your client wants their eyebrow piercing to ensure that you can place this surface piercing deeply enough to minimize the chances of migration or rejection. Once you've found a placement that allows you to pinch a sufficient amount of skin above and below the eyebrow, mark the spots with a piercing marker. Ideally you should use a 16g-14g piercing needle and eyebrow ring to also help minimize migration and rejection. Finer jewelry will be more likely to migrate out and leave your client with an unsightly scar. If your client's facial structure and eyebrow tissue can accommodate it, you may even want to recommend using a 12g needle and jewelry.
Ideally, you should pierce from the underside of the eyebrow up to avoid unwanted contact with your client's eye. As with ear piercings, you can use a receiving tube or piercing cork for added protection, if desired. When your client selects a micro bent barbell or other threaded eyebrow jewelry, use a threaded needle for the smoothest insertion. If your client opts for a captive ring or other threadless jewelry, use a hollow needle instead.
Facial dermal piercings may be done with either a small dermal punch or a piercing needle. However, a needle is preferable because it will part the skin rather than completely removing a circular piece of tissue, which could result in an unsightly scar later if the dermal piercing is removed or the dermal anchor becomes dislodged.
Once you've created your hole, gently insert an autoclaved dermal anchor. You may want to use a 14g threaded taper to insert the anchor to minimize trauma to the surrounding tissue. There are also excellent forceps available designed specifically for inserting dermal anchors. Once the anchor is inserted, use our dermal anchor holder tool to secure the anchor in place while you screw on the dermal top your client has chosen. Watch the video below to see Painful Pleasures' own professional piercer Jason Coale insert a dermal anchor. You may also want to check out the dermal anchor assistant tool and forceps designed by Jason Coale to make inserting dermal anchors easier.
Cheek Piercing Techniques
Cheek piercings are incredibly delicate piercings that should only be performed by experienced piercers who are skilled at identifying the locations of a person's parotid ducts. The parotid ducts are responsible for saliva flow, and if they're damaged, saliva may permanently run down a person's cheeks and make them much more susceptible to infection. Unfortunately, there's no way to fully repair damaged parotid ducts; they can only be cauterized to seal off the holes and stop external saliva flow, leaving behind ugly scars. If you aren't experienced at doing cheek piercings, find a master piercer who is to teach you this delicate procedure.
Once you've identified the location of a client's parotid ducts, the next thing you need to do is identify a placement that will enhance existing dimples or give the person the appearance of having dimples without coming too close to the parotid ducts. Mark your intended piercing spots with a piercing marker, make sure your client is happy with the placement, and proceed with the piercing. Screw a sterilized cheek piercing barbell (an extra-long labret stud) onto the end of a threaded needle before inserting it in one cheek to ease the jewelry in as gently as possible. You should insert the needle from the inside of the mouth, so that once you've pulled it through, the end of the labret stud will rest against your client's inner cheek. Unscrew the needle from the outside of the barbell, and screw the decorative end onto the barbell. Repeat on the other side using a new sterile needle and piece of cheek piercing jewelry.
Nose Piercing Techniques
The type of nose piercing your client chooses will determine the best piercing technique for you to use. Bridge piercings are best done with a 16g-14g threaded piercing needle and a sterilized micro bent barbell, with the barbell turned to hug the curve of the nasal bridge. The jewelry should be long enough to accommodate any swelling that occurs, but not so long that it will impair your client's vision. Pinch as much skin as possible at the desired piercing point to help minimize the chances of this surface piercing migrating out or being rejected entirely. It's best to use a receiving tube for this type of piercing to protect your client's eyes.
When performing a nostril piercing, labret studs tend to be the best starter jewelry, although some clients may prefer to opt for a small seamless or segment ring. Either way, you need to make sure the jewelry is sufficiently long enough or that it has a large enough diameter to accommodate any post-piercing swelling that occurs.
After cleansing the area to be pierced, mark the desired piercing spot with a sterile piercing marker like the Precision body piercing pen shown below. Make sure your client is happy with the position, apply an antiseptic to the area, and then begin the piercing process. If using threaded jewelry like a labret stud, attach it to an 18g-16g threaded piercing needle. If inserting a nose hoop, use a hollow piercing needle instead. You may want to use a curved piercing needle to make it easier to pierce and pull the jewelry through from inside the nostril, but feel free to work with whatever style needle you're most comfortable using. Once the jewelry is in place, attach the top if you've inserted threaded jewelry, or close the gap in the ring if your client selected a nose hoop.
Rhino piercings require piercing the soft tissue vertically between the nostrils. Pinch the tip of your client's nose gently to see how far back you can place the bottom and top sides of the fistula. The top hole should rest towards on tip of the nose, slightly closer to the central cartilage than to the actual tip. Mark the entry and exit points, show your client and get their approval, and begin the piercing process. You may want to start at the underside of the nose and pierce upwards. Since this type of piercing requires a short straight barbell or a micro bent barbell, depending on the shape of your client's nose, you'll want to use a threaded piercing needle. Attach the jewelry to one end of the needle so you can ease it through the piercing gently. Once the jewelry has been pulled through completely, unscrew the needle and attach the top ball.
To perform a septum piercing, you'll have to find the "sweet spot" in between the top of your client's nostrils and the cartilage that runs through the center of the nose between the nostrils. If you misjudge the placement and pierce the cartilage, it will be incredibly painful for your client and will force them to wait for the misplaced piercing to heal before once again attempting to get a proper septum piercing. There are special septum forceps available that you can use to get your alignment right and guide your needle through the sweet spot as you pierce your client's septum. The type of jewelry they choose, which may range from a captive ring to a pincher to other septum jewelry like septum tusks, will determine whether it's best for you to use a threaded or hollow piercing needle.
Clients who request nasallang piercings are essentially asking for a combination of low double nostril piercings that pass through the central septum cartilage rather than the tender sweet spot that septum piercings typically pass through. This is a painful piercing, plain and simple. Be honest with your clients about that, and let them know they could just get matching nostril piercings on either side of their nose as as an alternative, which would allow them to get or keep a regular septum piercing, too. If you perform a proper nasallang piercing instead, you'll need to mark either nostril at level points, stick a threaded needle straight through one nostril, the septum cartilage, and the opposing nostril, and follow it with a long straight barbell that's a little like an industrial barbell for your nose.
If your client already has a septum piercing and wants to try a less painful approach to getting a nasallang-like piercing, their existing septum piercing hole could be re-purposed. If they don't already have their septum pierced, it may actually be easiest to perform the septum piercing first using a straight barbell that's long enough to make their nostrils flare slightly, which will allow you to make a level marking on the side of each nostril before finalizing their pseudo-nasallang piercing by piercing their nostrils. You can then remove the barbell, pierce through one nostril with the barbell attached to the needle, guide the needle through the septum piercing, and then work it out through the opposing nostril before removing the needle and capping the straight barbell. Alternatively, you can do the piercing in a single motion, creating a nostril piercing, septum piercing, and a second nostril piercing in one pass. The placement and method you and your client agree upon depends on your skill level and your client's pain tolerance.
Lip Piercing Techniques
Most lip piercings can be handled in a similar manner, with the exception of vertical labret piercings, Dahlia piercings and lowbret piercings. Horizontal piercings placed below the lower lip, like side lip piercings and standard labret piercings, and upper lip piercings such as Monroe and Medusa piercings all require similar piercing techniques, though. Since bites are just sets of the aforementioned piercings, they should also be treated the same way.
Labret jewelry is the best type of starter jewelry for most upper and lower lip piercings, and BioPlast labrets are an even better choice. BioPlast is autoclavable, hypoallergenic, soft, flexible, and less likely to damage the teeth and gums the way metal jewelry may. Plan on using a threaded piercing needle to ease metal labret jewelry through gently or a hollow needle to carefully insert a BioPlast labret. Mark the desired piercing site, get your client's approval on the placement, do proper skin prep, and proceed with the piercing. If you're able to pierce from the inside of your client's mouth outwards, that's ideal. If you don't have enough room to maneuver that way, you'll need to use a receiving tube or cork to avoid poking your client's mouth when you push the needle through. If space is tight and you want to pierce from the inside out, you could try a curved or hooked piercing needle instead. Just don't try doing a lip piercing with a curved needle for the first time on an unsuspecting client!
When it comes to vertical labret piercings, the process is a bit simpler. You'll need a short straight barbell and a threaded piercing needle. You can use forceps to hold your client's lip out while you do the piercing, if desired. Make sure the barbell is long enough that it won't put undue pressure on the piercing even if your client's lip swells, because that can cause problems ranging from bruising to necrosis (tissue death), which can lead to infection. Attach the barbell to the needle, and pierce straight through the center of your client's lip vertically so that the top ball, once attached, will sit attractively atop the center of their lower lip.
Lowbret piercings are a bit trickier than some of the other types of lip piercings, because you have less space to maneuver. When selecting the placement, you'll need to reach inside your client's mouth in between their lower lip and the base of their gums (with clean, gloved hands, of course) and pinch their lip between your thumb and forefinger. Your thumb will help you mark the outer placement point for their lowbret piercing. It should be slightly higher up than where your client's gums meet their lip, because you'll need to leave a little room for the labret stud end to sit comfortably into the crevice between the ridge of their gums and the point where their lower lip and gums meet. If your client wants matching lowbret piercings on the left and right sides of their mouth, you'll need to perform the same procedure on the opposite side, then take a step back and look to see if your piercing pen markings are level with each other. When you do the actual piercings, you may find a curved needle is the ideal piercing tool. Definitely recommend BioPlast labret studs, too, since prolonged friction between jewelry and your client's gums could cause gum recession unless the jewelry is soft and gentle like BioPlast jewelry is. Remind your client that soft jewelry doesn't have to mean a soft look, either. They can rock metal spikes and other cool ends even if their studs are made of a softer material.
When performing Dahlia piercings, also called joker piercings, it's important to place them just far enough back that they won't be likely to migrate out, but without coming in contact with the small flaps of skin that protrude inside the mouth just behind the corners of one's lips. As with other lip piercings, BioPlast labret studs make ideal starter jewelry for Dahlia piercings, although people occasionally like to switch to hoops later once their piercings are healed.
Use threaded or hollow piercing needles to place a client's Dahlia piercings. They'll allow you to pierce from the inside of the mouth outwards and pull the jewelry through smoothly until the labret stud backs rest gently against the insides of the cheeks. Once the jewelry is in place on one side, remove the piercing needle and attach the decorative end to the stud. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the mouth, taking measures to ensure that the piercings are level and placed equidistant from the corners of the mouth on both sides.
There are four types of oral piercings that require different piercing techniques. The three oral frenulum (web) piercings--tongue web piercings, smiley (upper lip frenulum) piercings, and frowney (lower lip web) piercings are all fairly straight-forward surface piercings. The best types of jewelry to use are micro bent barbells, circular barbells or captive bead rings, in that order. Micro bent barbells are the ideal choice, particularly for smiley piercings, because they'll put the least amount of downward pressure on the healing fistula and reduce chances of migration and rejection. Additionally, you can minimize migration/rejection by using heavier-gauge jewelry, within reason. Oral frenulum tissue is delicate, so stick with jewelry in the 18g-14g range, preferably going no smaller than 16g if possible.
To perform an oral frenulum piercing, you'll just need to have your client rinse their mouth vigorously for 30-60 seconds with an antiseptic piercing rinse like Tattoo Goo's X-Pressions Extra Strength Antiseptic Piercing Spray first. If you're doing an upper or lower lip frenulum piercing, use piercing forceps to hold the lip up and out, giving you easy access to pierce the frenulum straight through as far back as possible, again to minimize chances of migration and rejection. If you're doing a tongue frenulum piercing, use forceps to hold the tongue up and out, and pierce the tissue straight through as far back as possible, like you would with a smiley or frowney piercing. Depending on the type of jewelry your client selects, you can choose between a threaded or hollow piercing needle.
When it comes to tongue piercings, you'll need to examine the underside of your client's tongue to make sure they're a candidate for a tongue piercing. Most people have two obvious, purple-blue veins running down either side of the central underside of their tongues, with a more pinkish space in between. As long as there isn't a third vein in between, they should be a good candidate for a tongue piercing. Use piercing forceps to get a good grasp on your client's tongue and pull it straight out, as comfortably for them as possible. Mark the top and bottom spots where you want your piercing needle to enter and exit your client's tongue. Attach one end of a 14g tongue ring (technically an extra-long straight barbell that will allow room for swelling) to a 14g threaded piercing needle, and push it through your marks, taking great care not to nick one of the major veins that runs along the underside of the tongue. Once the jewelry is inserted, unscrew the needle, and attach a top ball that's larger in diameter than the bottom ball and a good deal wider than the barbell. This will ensure that the barbell doesn't sink into the fistula and cause piercing problems. If your client asks for a decorative top beyond a jeweled ball, encourage them to stick with standard balls during the first 4-6 weeks of the healing process.
Web Piercing Techniques
There are 5 different types of web piercings, also known as frenulum piercings, which are all piercings of the soft connective tissue between various parts of your body, like your fingers and toes. We discussed oral web piercings in the "Oral Piercing Techniques" section above. Hand and foot web piercings aren't much different, but they don't require forceps the way oral web piercings often do for good access. Since frenulum piercings are surface piercings, they keys to success are piercing as far back on the web as possible, closer to where it connects to the rest of your hand or foot, and using the heaviest gauge jewelry appropriate for the tissue and area being pierced. For hand and foot web piercings, 16g-14g jewelry is typically ideal and will help minimize the chances of the jewelry migrating out or being rejected entirely.
Labret studs and short, straight barbells tend to be the ideal types of jewelry for web piercings, in that order. The reason labrets are better is because the underside is flat, so it will be less likely to get in the way when your client's using their hands and walking. They can get flat disc ends to attach to short straight barbells, too, if they try that options and find that the balls do in fact get in the way or generally feel uncomfortable.
When you're ready to perform a web piercing, have your client spread their fingers or toes as much as possible, mark a spot towards the back-center of the web to be pierced, perform proper skin prep, and pierce them with a threaded needle that has their jewelry attached to one end. If you're using labret studs, you'll need to pierce from the underside of the hand or foot upwards so you can easily unscrew the needle after inserting the jewelry and replace it with the top your client has chosen. Remember that their starter jewelry shouldn't be as close fitting as they might like, in case the tissue swells while their frenulum piercing is healing. Once 4-6 weeks have passed without problems like recurring swelling, you can swap in a more closely-fitting labret stud or straight barbell for them.
Nipple Piercing Techniques
Nipple piercings are painful for most people, so you may want to encourage your client to allow you to apply a topical anesthetic 20-30 minutes before piercing them to give the skin time to absorb it and let it reach its full effect. While they're waiting, let them choose from 14g-12g straight barbells, bent barbells, circular barbells, or captive rings for their starter jewelry (unless they really want to start at a larger gauge), but encourage them to go with one of the first two options since they'll put the least amount of downward pressure on their healing fistulas. Note that if your client has inverted nipples, bent barbells may actually be their best option, since the curve of the barbells will help pull their nipples out some.
When the time comes to do the piercing, attach threaded jewelry to a threaded piercing needle, or insert threadless jewelry into a hollow straight needle. If your client plans to have both nipples pierced at once, you'll want to be ready to do the piercings in close succession, while their adrenaline is still running strong and helping reduce their pain. That means opening up two sterile needle packs, inserting two sterile pieces of jewelry into the needles, and laying them out on your sterile field so they're ready to go as soon as it's time to do the piercings. If your client doesn't have a friend's hand to squeeze, give them a stress ball and/or a tongue depressor to bite down on, and insert the first needle in the desired-upon position (i.e. horizontally, vertically or at an angle). As soon as the jewelry's been pulled through, remove the needle, pop the end on the nipple ring, and start the second piercing immediately after changing your gloves. The trick is to move the process along as quickly as you can to minimize your client's discomfort.
Belly Button Piercing Techniques
Traditional belly button rings are placed above the belly button, so that the decorative end hangs over top of the actual belly button cavity. Occasionally piercers do belly piercings as total surface piercings well above the belly button, so the jewelry doesn't hang over the belly button cavity. This isn't ideal, because the jewelry is more likely to migrate out, causing discomfort and other problems along the way and leaving an ugly scar. Even if a client has an "outtie", it's best to pick a spot a 1/4" to a 1/2" above the belly button to insert the needle, and bring it out beneath the upper lip of the belly button cavity. If you want to increase your outtie customers' satisfaction with their new piercings, offer them reverse belly button rings (a.k.a. top-down belly rings) so the jewelry's focus is above their belly button rather than accentuating the navel itself. You may also suggest having them choose a belly ring with a navel shield that will have the same effect of drawing attention to the jewelry rather than their outtie navel.
When you do a standard or lower belly button piercing, you should pinch the skin to ensure the needle goes as deeply as possible to reduce the chances of migration and rejection. Using 14g-12g belly button rings will also help avoid those issues. Side belly button piercings and star-shaped patterns are also possible, for more adventurous belly button piercees. Whichever format your client chooses, you'll want to use either a straight or curved piercing needle, choosing the best option for your client's anatomy.
The dermal piercing techniques we discussed in our "Facial Dermal Piercing Techniques" section above also apply to dermal piercings placed elsewhere on the body. When placing a dermal piercing anywhere but on the face, it's more acceptable to use a dermal punch. It's just best to avoid using them on the face when possible to minimize highly-visible scarring, should your client remove their dermal piercing later.
Wherever you place a dermal piercing, you may want to cover it with a small, circular bandage before your client leaves your shop. Encourage them to wear loose-fitting clothing at night without the bandage on to let their piercing breathe and heal. If they're concerned that their daily activities may disrupt their dermal anchor before the tissue has had time to grow up and around the base and secure it in place, they can continue wearing small band-aids during the day as long as they let their piercing breathe at night and whenever else they can comfortably remove the bandage.
When it comes to surface piercings, insertion can be a bit more invasive than with dermal piercings, although that isn't always the case. When doing a smaller or shallower surface piercing, you can just pinch the skin together and pierce it straight through using a hollow piercing needle with the surface barbell tucked inside so it gets pulled through behind the needle. You'll just need to use a large enough hollow needle that will accommodate the surface barbell and its posts.
If you're placing a longer surface barbell or need to insert one more deeply, you may need to use a scalpel instead of a needle to insert the hardware. Using a scalpel can also decrease the chances of your client's body rejecting the hardware by allowing you to insert a surface bar with taller posts more deeply beneath the skin. Whichever method you use, the end goal is to have the 2 surface bar posts sit flush with the skin so that the dermal tops you insert on either side appear to be sitting directly atop your client's skin. If you're worried that swelling may cause skin to grow over the posts, insert healing posts initially instead of decorative tops (a trick that can be used with dermal piercings, too).
If you've used a scalpel to place a surface barbell, you can apply a thin strip of DermaBond Liquid Skin Adhesive to the wound, gently press the sides together, and hold them until the adhesive sets enough to keeps the wound closed. Alternatively or in addition to using skin adhesive, you can place a bandage over the area between the surface bar's posts to hold the barbell in place and protect the wound while the skin heals up over the surface bar. Breathable materials like gauze tacked down with paper tape or a single layer of loosely-applied cohesive wrap (for surface bars placed where a wrap can be used, like on an arm, wrist or leg) are ideal bandaging materials for surface piercings. Encourage your client to leave the bandage in place for at least 24 hours, then to let it breathe at night and cover it during the day or at least during strenuous activities for the first week, while the skin regrows over the surface bar.
Female Genital Piercing Techniques
There are 8 main types of female genital piercings that each require different piercing techniques: vertical clitoral hood (VCH) piercings, horizontal clitoral hood (HCH) piercings, Princess Diana piercings, triangle piercings, outer labia piercings, inner labia piercings, Christina piercings, and fourchette piercings.
VCH piercings are by far the most popular type of female genital piercing. Before you can perform one, you have to do what's called a Q-tip test to see if a woman's clitoral hood is deep enough to accommodate a receiving tube that would prevent you from damaging her clitoris when piercing her clitoral hood. If a woman passes the test, you would insert a receiving tube into her clitoral hood, use a threaded needle with a bent barbell attached to it to pierce through the top of her clitoral hood, catch it with the receiving tube, unscrew the needle from the bent barbell, and recap the bottom with a ball.
If a woman doesn't pass the Q-tip test and still wants a clitoral hood piercing, she can get an HCH piercing instead. This piercing passes through the clitoral hood, over top of the clitoris, so no receiving tube is needed. Typically it's best to use a hollow straight needle, since the ideal jewelry for an HCH piercing is a captive bead ring that could be threaded through using the open end of the hollow needle.
A woman who passes the Q-tip test and has an ample-sized clitoral hood is also candidate for a Princess Diana piercing. Diana piercings are somewhat of a hybrid of VCH and HCH piercings. Each outer-upper side of a woman's clitoral hood is pierced with a threaded needle that has a bent barbell attached to it. The end result is a pair of bent barbells essentially cradling the clitoris. You would first pierce the left upper side of the clitoral hood, threading the needle and attached bent barbell down alongside the clitoris under the clitoral hood. You would then repeat the process on the opposite side, so the end result would look something like pair of back-to-back bent barbells shown to the right, except they'd be hugging your client's clitoris. The top outer balls would be on either side of the clitoral hood, but the lower balls would protrude out from the underside of the clitoral hood.
A handful of very lucky women are candidates for triangle piercings, where a bent barbell passes through the sides of the clitoral hood at its base and underneath the clitoris. To be able to perform this piercing on a woman, you'd need to be able to pinch the base of her clitoral hood and lift her clitoral shaft up and away from her body to protect it while passing a needle through the base of her clitoral hood and under her clitoris. As with VCH and Princess Diana piercings, it's best to use a threaded taper with a bent barbell screwed onto one end to thread the jewelry through the base of the clitoral shaft gently.
Any woman can get one or more outer labia piercings. This thicker tissue can be pierced once on one side, in opposing pairs, or in rows of several rings on each side. It's best to pierce from the inside of the labia outwards with a straight needle, and to use a receiving tube or cork to catch the needle. 14g jewelry or larger is ideal for outer labia piercings. Many women prefer to wear captive rings of some variety, like seamless rings, and some like to attach small weights to their rings via S-hooks for added stimulation and/or to stretch their fistulas. Eventually, some women upgrade to tunnels instead of rings as outer labia jewelry.
The inner labia tend to be much smaller than the outer labia and comprised of more delicate tissue, so it's best to perform inner labia piercings with finer-gauge straight needles and smaller captive rings in the 20g-18g range. The inner labia can accommodate fewer piercings than the outer labia, so most women stick to one or two delicate rings on either side.
Very few women can get fourchette piercings, because they're piercings of a small flap of tissue at the back of the vulva that few women have. If you have a client who wants a fourchette piercing and is anatomically suited for one, you'd likely want to use an 18g-16g needle and a captive ring for this piercing.
Christina piercings are surface piercings placed above the clitoral hood in such a way that the bottom decorative ball sits directly above the clitoral hood. Follow our guidelines for inserting surface piercings in the "Surface & Dermal Piercing Techniques" section above to place a Christina piercing, but use a Christina piercing barbell instead of a traditional surface barbell. It's important to know that these piercings have a high rejection rate because of their location, where the waistband of a woman's pants and underwear are likely to cause constant irritation. They take many months to fully heal, and only then if a woman practices diligent piercing aftercare and wears loose-fitting clothing as often as possible.
You can read more about female genital piercings, healing times, the best jewelry to use for each, and more in our Female Piercing Options article.
Male Genital Piercing Techniques
There are 10 primary types of male genital piercings, several of which have variations based on their positioning, and each requires a different piercing technique. The main options include dydoe piercings, ampallang piercings, apadravya piercings, kuno piercings (through the foreskin), frenum piercings (through the underside of the penile shaft, called dorsal frenum piercings when on the top side, and known as Jacob's ladders when done in columns), Prince Albert Piercings (called reverse PA piercings when they puncture the top of the penile shaft), dolphin piercings (basically a second PA piercing hole), pubic piercings, hafada piercings (on the scrotum), and guiche piercings (on the perineum).
Dydoe piercings are placed through the top edge of the penis head, parallel to the penile shaft. A man may have one or more dydoe piercings, depending on the girth of his penis. They're often done in pairs. Since these are surface piercings, a heavier gauge threaded needle and short straight barbells are preferable. You should mark the point(s) on the edge of the penile head where you plan to place dydoe piercings, then mark the exit point(s) on the head itself. Attach one end of a barbell to the end of your threaded needle. Lay the needle against the penile shaft, with the point touching the mark where you plan to insert the needle. You'll need to push it through at a slight upward angle so it exits the penile head at your secondary mark. Pull the jewelry through, unscrew the needle, and attach the opposing ball to the barbell. If you're performing a pair of dydoe piercings, repeat the process with a new sterile needle and sterilized barbell at the second point. The two piercings should be spaced slightly apart, but centered on the penile head. When you're done, the backs of the barbells will lay fairly flush against the penile shaft.
Ampallang piercings are one of the most painful male genital piercings, because they go straight through the penile head horizontally. You'll need a heavier gauge threaded needle and a straight barbell that's slightly longer than the width of the widest point of the penile head, so there's room for swelling without the jewelry cutting into the skin when the penis is erect. Many men like to start with jewelry in the 10g-8g range, but smaller or larger sizes are also acceptable. Mark the left and right sides of the penile head so the two points are level with each other. Attach one end of the straight barbell to the threaded needle, and pass the needle through the penile head from one side to the other. Unscrew the needle, and screw on the opposing ball or half ball, depending on your client's preference.
Apadravya piercings, like ampallang piercings, are some of the most painful male genital piercings a client can get. However, they tend to have great sexual benefits, particularly for female partners in positions that allow the balls to stimulate a woman's G-spot. To perform this piercing, you'll need a threaded needle and a long straight barbell that will be roomy even when your client's penis is erect, at least until their piercing is fully healed and they can safely switch to more closely-fitting jewelry. Attach one end of the sterilized barbell to the sterile threaded piercing needle. Mark both the top and bottom center of the head of the penis, so the completed piercing will sit perfectly vertically through the penile head. Push the needle through the top mark and out through the bottom mark, unscrew the needle from the jewelry, and replace it with the opposing ball or half ball, depending on your client's preference.
If your client is uncircumcised, he can also choose to get a kuno piercing, which is a piercing of the upper rim of the foreskin. This piercing needs to be performed while your client's penis is flaccid and you can get a good grip on the edge of his foreskin, preferably using forceps (gently, of course). Use a hollow needle in the 16g-12g range to pierce straight through the the foreskin a little below the edge of the rim. Since this is a surface piercing, piercing too close to the top edge of the foreskin may cause the piercing to migrate out. Follow the piercing needle with a seamless ring or other captive ring in the same gauge as the needle used to perform the piercing.
Frenum piercings are very popular piercings for men because they're some of the least painful male genital piercings and a great option for a man who's interested in exploring genital piercings for the first time. They also tend to be very sexually stimulating for partners, which also adds to their appeal and popularity. Frenum piercings are surface piercings placed horizontally along the penile shaft, typically along the bottom side. When placed along the top side, they're called dorsal frenum piercings. Although frenum piercings can technically also be placed along the sides of the penile shaft, that positioning is less popular both for men and their partners. When a single frenum piercing is placed at the very base of the underside of the penile shaft where it meets the scrotal sack, it's called a lorum piercing. The procedure for performing any of these variations is essentially the same.
Most men start with one frenum piercing placed closed to the head of the penile shaft, which would allow him to wear a D-ring for added sexual pleasure once his piercing is fully healed. (Think of it as a high-up cock ring.) To start, though, you would need to use a threaded needle with a straight barbell attached (a starter one that's long enough to accommodate swelling even when the penis is erect), pinch the skin up, insert the needle horizontally across the penile shaft, follow with the barbell, unscrew the needle from the jewelry, and replace it with the opposing ball. Some guys choose to add on additional frenum piercings equidistant apart down the length of their penile shafts to create a Jacob's ladder. The same can be done with dorsal frenum piercings.
Prince Albert piercings are really popular among men, but they're not always a favorite for their sexual partners, so encourage clients interested in getting PA piercings to discuss the idea with their sexual partners before taking the plunge. To perform a PA piercing, you'll need a 12g-8g hollow curved needle, depending on the size your client requests, a needle pusher, and (based on your client's preference) either a bent barbell, a circular barbell, or a captive bead ring in the same size as the needle you're using. With a traditional PA piercing, you'll puncture the underside of the penile shaft just below the penile head until you've penetrated the urethra. That's not an easy task, which is why a needle pusher comes in handy. Once you're in the urethra, you can then slowly turn the curved needle so it's pointing towards the urethral opening, and thread the bent or circular barbell or captive ring through until it protrudes from the urethral opening. Pop in the captive bead or screw on the barbell balls, and you're done. If your client asks for a reverse PA piercing, you'll follow the same process detailed above, but you'll do it from the top of the penile shaft instead of from the underside.
To do a dolphin piercing, your client will need a well healed traditional PA piercing first. You'll then place a second hole into the urethra from the underside of the penile shaft, roughly 5/8" below their PA piercing hole. It's helpful to use a curved piercing needle, because you'll be threading a bent barbell from the new hole into the existing PA piercing hole. Screw on the opposing ball, and the dolphin piercing is complete. It will provide your client with two stimulating balls on the underside of their penile shaft that they can enhance by replacing their existing balls with larger-millimeter balls without having to stretch up a gauge--which they can do later if they want, once their dolphin piercing is fully healed.
Pubic piercings are just surface piercings placed anywhere on the pubic mound. They can be done with nearly any size piercing needle and type of jewelry, but heavier gauges will be less likely to migrate or reject. To perform a pubic piercing, simply pinch the skin to be pierced, push a straight needle through it, and follow it with a small captive ring. Micro bent barbells or short straight barbells may also be used, but most men seem to prefer to wear hoops in their pubic piercings.
Hafada piercings/scrotal piercings are done in the same manner as pubic piercings. Just pinch the skin to be pierced, pass a straight needle through it, and follow it with a captive ring, unless your client requests a different style of jewelry. Some men like to create hafada ladders, which are just rows of scrotal piercings placed equidistant apart. Others yet just cover their scrotal sacks with a plethora of hafada piercings, not necessarily in any particular pattern.
Guiche piercings are one of the few male genital piercings that may provide physical sexual pleasure for a man rather than just mental sexual stimulation and physical stimulation for his sexual partners. They're placed on the perineum, which is the stretch of skin between the base of the scrotal sack and the anus. It's known to be an erogenous zone for men that's said to enhance orgasms when massaged during intercourse and other sexual activities. When a guiche piercing is placed through this erogenous zone and has fully healed, it can provide added stimulation when manually manipulated or pulled gently with small weights attached to a captive ring via an S-hook.
To perform a guiche piercing, which is a surface piercing, you simply need a piercing needle, a receiving cork, and either a bent barbell or a captive ring. Pinch the skin so you can pierce it horizontally between the thighs, catching it with the piercing cork, follow it with the bent barbell or captive ring, and cap off the jewelry. If inserting a bent barbell, turn it so the curve of the barbell hugs the perineum. A bent barbell is actually the better option during the healing process, but a captive ring can be more fun sexually once a guiche piercing is fully healed.
For more information about male genital piercings, healing times, proper aftercare, sexual benefits, and jewelry changes, check out our Male Piercings article.
Anal piercings can be enjoyable for men and women alike, but they can be hard to heal properly due to their sensitive location. If someone asks you to perform an anal piercing on them, you'll want to use a hooked piercing needle. Have your client bend over and, if possible, help spread their butt cheeks for you so you can use both hands to perform the piercing. If it's too awkward for your client to do that themselves, you may need to pull in a co-worker to aid in the process. Clean the area very well with a proper cleanser like Microsan Rx Soap, followed by an antiseptic such as alcohol or providone iodine (assuming your client isn't allergic to iodine). Use the hooked piercing needle to pierce your client's anus from the inside of their anal rim out, and follow the needle with a captive ring. Afterwards, stress the importance of wiping gently after bowel movements and following with a saline wash like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray in addition to regular aftercare rinse spritzes and 2-3 full sea salt solution soaks per day. It's incredibly important to keep an anal piercing as clean as possible if your client wants to keep it long enough to enjoy it.
If you're interested in learning more about piercing techniques, check out our free Videos section, the Piercing Videos section of our YouTube channel, The Piercing Bible by master piercer Elayne Angel, our 2-volume DVD set The Hole Story, our Micro Dermal Basics DVD by Johnny Needles, and the Piercing Information section of our free library of educational articles for piercers and piercing enthusiasts. You'll also find helpful safety information and educational articles about things like sterilization processes and proper hand hygiene in the Shop Safety section of our Information Center.
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