Dermal Punched 8 Gauge (3mm) Nasallang
Back in the early days of January, 2010, an idea started forming in my head. Fresh from having seen James Cameron's new box office colossus, Avatar, I had an itch in my nose. An itch for a Nasallang. I won't deny the connection. Seeing the Chief of the Plains tribe with his epic nose piercing, I found myself craving just such a distinction. Perhaps exacerbating the situation, was the fact that I have a penchant for disabusing people of their preconceived notations. Being that I was also finishing my bachelors degree in Physics, what better way, I thought, to demonstrate the error of judging others by their appearance, than by making my appearance radically different from how others would expect it to be?
After consulting with my piercer, and finding that he was willing to look into the procedure, together we began investigating the Nasallang. The Nasallang is a unique, and quite rare, piercing. It goes horizontally straight through the nose, first through the cartilage of one nostril, then through the septal cartilage, and finally out through the other nostril. Normally done at 12 or 14 gauge, it can take some effort to get through all that tough tissue. Done at 8 gauge, as I had in mind for myself, it is down right brutal. A quick survey of YouTube produced a video of user LordAmsa getting his nasallang at 8 gauge. Absolutely brutal.
So the first challenge, then, was the brute force required to get through.
A second consideration that goes with piercing cartilage is that of healing. Cartilage piercings traditionally take quite a while to fully heal. The skin on one side of the piercing must make its way through the hole to reconnect with that on the other side, in order for the fistula to fully form. Additionally, because cartilage does not have its own blood supply, and therefore relies on the surrounding tissue, having a tight fit between the jewelry and the hole (as would be the norm in regular soft tissue piercings) is generally counter productive, and in the most extreme cases can lead to necrosis of the cartilage in the immediate vicinity of the piercing.
For these reasons, large gauge cartilage piercings are often done using a device known as a dermal punch (or, if you're a medical professional, a biopsy punch). It is a cylindrical blade, attached to a handle, which cuts out a cross section of tissue. Think post-hole digger for the body. It has the advantage of requiring very little force, due to using a cutting motion rather than a piercing thrust, as well as of making a hole precisely the size of the jewelry, relieving the tight fit and necrosis issues. For a Nasallang, it would be the ideal tool. Unfortunately, no dermal punch currently being produced has a blade long enough to make it all the way through the nose. At best, a typical dermal punch would make it through a single nostril. A long barreled dermal punch was what was needed. What would be the ideal tool, suffered only from lack of existence. Fortunately, after some searching on the internet, and a few emails, I was able to locate a dermal punch manufacturer who was willing to do a small run of custom, long barreled punches. Together we refined the design a bit, and came up with a tool that showed great promise.
A third concern was more one of convenience. I learned after getting my septum pierced that doing a salt soak is really rather awkward on my nose. It required sticking my nose in a shot glass full of saline solution for 5 minutes at a time. Not at all comfortable. For the Nasallang, the placement of the hole promised to make it even more inconvenient. Fortunately, this third challenge proved to be rather easy to overcome. A 'WaterPik" dental water jet, a gallon sized bucket, and a couple lengths of hose quickly transformed into a nose irrigation device, and combined with a cotton pad as a compress for the outside, resolved the question of aftercare.
Lastly, there was the issue of jewelry itself. I have recently become a huge fan of PTFE jewelry, so I set about to see if I could find an 8 gauge PTFE barbell. It ended up that I would have to buy several feet of 1/8th inch diameter PTFE rod from a local raw-materials supplier, cut it to length, and polish it down to 12,000 grit with some special sand paper I happened to have left over from a guitar building project.
So, after a final consultation with my piercer, who had been pinging all his contacts and discussing the idea with them as it developed, we decided to give it a go. The dermal punches were ordered, the PTFE prepared, and the nose irrigation system constructed.
A couple weeks later, the punches arrived, and we set a date for the piercing. The PTFE rod was sterilized, and we prepared for a gory mess. Sadly, on that account, we were rather disappointed.
The day of the piercing, I showed up to the shop about an hour early, as the guys began their prep. We had extra clean up materials on hand (as I had bled quite profusely when I got my septum pierced) but it all ended up being rather unnecessary. The custom punch performed spectacularly, and made it through in one smooth stroke (though it was later described as sounding like someone was crushing a whole bag of Doritos at once), the transfer made, and the mess quickly cleaned up.
Aftercare likewise went smoothly. It is now about a month after the procedure, and it is healing very nicely. Over all, it was a very successful experiment. The long barreled dermal punch shows great promise as being the ideal tool for Nasallangs, and I now have a nice, long stick through my nose. Everybody's happy. :)
submitted by: TraxusIV
on: 28 May 2010
in Nose Related Piercings