Piercing Questions

Piercings and Cancer?

This message came to my profile at the Tribalectic website:
hello elayne , my girlfriend has had three labia piercings , shortly after the first one she developed cervical cancer . the second one it seemed fine . but shortly after the third one the cancer returned and she had to have the rest of the cervix taken out . there is not much information on the internet concerning cancer and piercings . i did however found one site that claims that body piercing can cause cancer. their explanation was skin cells pushed into the skin and then get trapped and develop into cancer .everyone i have talked to says there has not been any studies done.do you believe it is possible to get cancer from a body piercing? thanks so much...jack...
Below is my response: Jack, Thanks for your questions. No, I don't think it is possible for piercings to cause cancer. I've seen no apparent correlation to it in my many, many years in the industry (since the 1980s). This is what my book has to say about the subject including a  quote from a doctor:
There is no medical evidence that piercings increase the risk of cancer. Kelly Shanahan, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Barton Memorial Hospital in Lake Tahoe, states, “I am aware of no evidence that nipple piercing increases the risk of breast cancer.”
Further, there really isn't any physiological way to explain that cells from a labia piercing could affect the tissue of the cervix, which are completely different. I understand it is easier to have something (like a piercing, or anything) to blame, but it just isn't so. I wish your girlfriend all the best with her recovery. Sincerely, Angel

Cheek Piercings

I received an email from a piercer who wanted to know about the safety of performing "dimple" or cheek piercings:
I have heard horror stories that piercing someone cheeks can hit a wrong nerve on someone. I was wondering if that was true? I was taught that there is no danger in doing this piercing?  Do you have a set measurement that you use on people as to make sure not to do any damage? I'm really uncomfortable performing any sort of piercing if there is a very big risk involved.
I explained that I no longer do cheek piercings due to the WORST complications that ever happened to somebody I pierced. For better or worse, it happened to me. In my book you can read the detailed explanation of why I don't do cheek piercings beyond the first molar. The areas of concern are the parotid duct and gland, rather than a particular nerve. I let her know she might be able to preview the story about it on page 119 of my book here on google books. She called her client who had been interested in getting cheek piercings to decline, and then she emailed me again in understandable frustration:
UHHHHHHHHHHH PEOPLE PISS ME OFF!!!!!!!!!!!! So I called my client back today and told her very nicely that I was no longer offering cheek piercings and explained to her why and even told her about the story in her book..... You know what her response was to this??? "Well do you know anyone else in the area that does them?" ??? WTF!!!!! Hello didn't I just tell you a horror story and explain to you WHAT can happen!!! uhhhhhhhhhh I just don't get people sometimes!!!
We can lead people to good information, but it doesn't mean they'll use it. Or in this case, I can't help thinking, "We can't educate people who don't have half a brain."

Lip Sewing (not a service I offer...)

I got some more information from the gal who wanted info on sewing her lips together:
It would just be for a photoshoot. my boyfriend would be there for support and to make sure nothing goes wrong, but i am probably going to be doing it myself. he is very insistant that he doesn't want to "hurt me" even if i'm asking him to. it's for the lips on my face. i have been looking into suture kits. would that be best for the situation.
Hi again, It depends on how you want the image to look. One of the easiest ways is to use long hypodermic tips and spear both lips with the needles. Then use some type of cord or ribbon (that has been suitably prepped--certain types of cloth can be autoclaved) and lace it around the needles. I think that looks aesthetically pleasing--kind of corset-like. If you want actual "thread" through the piercings then you are best off with a thick gauge suture thread. Unfortunately, compared to hypo tips and piercing needles, most suture needles are TOUGH to push through the skin! That's all going to be quite a bit bloodier than the first suggestion I made. You could go with a larger size, like a 12 ga and put 14 gauge tygon through. But it doesn't tie well like thread or fabric. It depends on the affect you wish to achieve--but make sure you prep the area with a surgical scrub, wear gloves, and use sterile implements. That means autoclaved! Not dunked in alcohol or put over a flame!! Good luck and let me know how it goes. Elayne

Female Genital Piercings: The Blind Leading the Blind

I heard the "author" gets paid per view and she doesn't deserve a penny for what she wrote! I found this piece (of sh*t) online that was supposed to be an informative article about genital piercings. I can't believe just anybody can write an article about genital piercings and toss out so much off-base (absolutely dead-wrong) information. This one doesn't even come close! I'm so irritated! (I pulled the link from this article so I don't send it any traffic.)

Spreading the Information Around

Today I was contacted (as Medical Liaison to the Association of Professional Piercers) by the media relations department of the Loyola University Health System. They are planning to write a press release on "clitoral piercings" because their obstetricians have been seeing a rise in the popularity of genital piercings. I clarified to her that piercings of the clitoris itself are quite rare, but that female genital piercings--especially of the hood area--are extremely popular. She wanted to know if they were more painful than other areas, or more prone to infections. These are common questions, and the answers are sometimes surprising: no--they aren't necessarily more painful than other areas (when the piercer is skillful and well trained), and they tend to be easy and quick to heal. From my book, I also filled her in on the very important rules for having safer sex while you're healing a genital piercing:

Surface Piercing vs. Dermal Anchors

I struck up this conversation with a gal who made a comment on a post I made about surface piercings. She wrote:

… I'm getting a five point star surface piercing/s on my right hip in a few days :] gotta talk it over with my piercer but should be cool to go :] ...

I asked her:

Has your piercer been clear with you that the surface piercings are unlikely to stay long-term and that you will most probably end up with scarring instead of jewelry there?

Her reply:

Yeah I've been told that before. I knew it wasn't going to be long term/permanent anyways. Does a surface piercing count as one that goes under the skin, with two balls on each end? because I was thinking of doing that instead of where you can only see one ball. Does that make sense? Sorry if I'm confusing you but id like to get more background info before I get it done. thank you

I provided her with some additional information and I hope it will make her decide to take more time figuring out the best course of action:

VCH Healing Problems & Inverted Nipples

I received this email recently:

I am considering piercing my breasts. I have inverted nipples however and I am wondering if you feel this would prevent a successful piercing for me. Previously, I had a sternum piercing which rejected. I currently have a VCH, which is still healing.  I assume I must be a slow healer since the VCH was done about four months ago, and I still am doing my salt water soaks to keep it from being sore. I would appreciate any advice or thoughts you might have. My piercing was done by a member of the APP. Thank you again for your time, Dawn

Dawn, My goodness! That is slow healing--the VCH usually heals in closer to 4 weeks, not months! Have you tried changing your VCH jewelry or the care product you're using on it? After that long a period of time, I think something should be changed. Have you considered trying emu oil? It can be very effective for healing problem piercings (and those that are doing well, too). Are you wearing a bar or a ring? What material? I wouldn't say a history of a rejected sternum piercing is indicative a tendency toward troubled healing--surface piercings such as these often have problems. The VCH is another matter. If it is determined that your jewelry is of good quality, the piercing properly placed and cared for, then you simply may not be a good candidate for piercings. Here is a brief section from my book about piercing inverted nipples:

Nape Piercings

I received this email from a piercer today:
Loved your article in PAIN magazine this month. It still surprises me how many clients will ask if its ok to heal their piercings with rubbing alcohol or peroxide!! I had one girl ask if it was ok to put liquid bandage over her freshly pierced nipples!! I don't offer surface percings in my studio because I have seen so many pictures of them rejecting but my friend is begging me to do the nape of his neck. Do you have any suggestions for the correct jewelry or tips for that piercing that would give me a better chance with not having it reject?
Hi Meghan, Thanks for your email. I'm not big on surface piercings myself, but there is one area that I will routinely do: the nape of the neck! Though if the tissue is not pliable, I decline. If the skin pinches up well, I make a wide piercing (usually over an inch; generally 1 1/4") and insert Tygon tubing. I most commonly use 12 or 10 gauge. There are some tricks to using it. Because the tubing is so flexible, it is kind of like trying to feed cooked spaghetti through a piercing, which obviously wouldn't be easy! So, I insert the tip of a small insertion taper (18 gauge) securely into the lumen of the tubing as far as it will go. This gives me a solid end that makes it easy to do the jewelry transfer. Important note: Tygon tubing is sold by gauge but may not be the exact measurement of your needle of the same size. If the Tygon is marginally larger, you won't get it through the piercing unless you use a needle of the next larger gauge (or half-gauge). To make the tubing into a barbell: depending on the size of the lumen, you can press-fit ornamental ends made for threadless body jewelry by Neometal. The 16 ga ends work great in the 14 gauge tubing.
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