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Brandings: Be Careful

size=6>Brandings: Be Careful About 5 weeks ago I decided I would brand my chest. The design I had decided on was three lines radiating upward and outward from my nipple, kind of like a "rising sun" pattern. I had experimented previously with giving myself small, light brands with a cigarette lighter. You hold it on until it's super hot, then press the top down into your skin. It's actually quite a bit more painful than a regular brand because the nerves don't burn away and hence just keep on pumping pain signals to your brain. Back in primary school, we used to call such a brand a "smiley" because of the smiley face shape the brand leaves on the skin. I don't think any of us got up the courage to do a smiley that stayed permanently: we would just heat up the lighter enough to leave a red mark. Then we would marvel at how tough we were. Anyway, I digress.

One morning I realised now was as good a time as any, and took a wire hanger and a pair of bolt cutters. I then made a strike-surface about 1 1/2" long with a little "handle" sticking up from the end of it. Not having any other substance available, I just scrubbed the wire and my skin with Triclosan lotion, went into the kitchen and proceeded to heat up the wire over the gas stove. When it was red, I went back into the bathroom, steeled myself and made the first, vertical strike.

The skin made an amaingly loud popping, crackling sound, and I could see it shrivelling before my eyes as the moisture evaporated under the heat. The pain was fairly intense for less than a second, then almost vanished as the nerves were obliterated. Once the crackling stopped, I lifted the wire and had a look. The strike was a yellow colour and crisp, set about 1/2 a millimetre into my flesh. The burned skin looked almot papaery, and the surrounding tissue was an angry red. The room was filled with the smell of burned flesh. Post-brand sensations are unbelievable. You've just given yourself a serious wound, but the only pain is a residual throb in the surrounding tissue. Your heart is absolutely racing from the adrenalin rush, and the endorphins make everything feel OK. It's like the post-pierce feeling, but more intense.

The iron now had charred pieces of my skin stuck to it, which I eventually managed to pick off. The second and third brand were even less painful, now that I knew what I was in for. The final brand, nearest my armpit, seemed to go quite deep, probably due to the thickness of the tissue there.

Well, my chest was now a sight to behold. I loved the way the lines looked, and they were surrounded by the redness. I threw my shirt on, feeling pretty bloody chuffed with myself.

I think my first mistake was not covering the brand up. I was operating with the assumption that the skin would be instantly cauterised, thus sealing out any germs. What I forgot was that the carbonised tissue would eventually crack and recede, thus laying open my bare subdermis to the elements. Not good. I think my second mistake was to pick the week before I was moving out of my parents' house to do the branding. Moving is stressful, hard work, and irritating. Stress places your immune system at its lowest. My third mistake was not protecting the brand during... uh, activities. Someone else's sweat rubbed into an open third degree burn is a bad idea.

Needless to say, three days later the brand was not feeling as good. The pain wasn't just there when I flexed the brand, it was a constant, aching throb. It also wasn't scabbing: no matter what I did, it constantly oozed pus, and was surrounded by radiating red lines, which were raised and tender. I felt very ill and decided it would be prudent to go to the doctor. Thankfully, I live in a country that has a nationalised health system, so I could take care of my problem without breaking the bank. The doctor was actually quite a surprise: I think he understood my motivations, he just thought it was exceedingly stupid to perform such a procedure at home. If only he knew the other stuff I'd done! He cleaned me up, gave me a prescription for antibiotics, and sent me on my way. He told me I'd have to come back daily and get the dressing changed, but I just ended up doing it myself.

After a few days, scabs finally formed. They were a filthy yellow colour from the pus, and looked very frightening. They were annoying as they cracked when they flexed but eventually they healed, after about 3 weeks. The three strike marks were not raised that much, and still had a lot of dead tissue on them. For about a week I scrubbed them with a toothbrush in the shower, and now they have keloided very nicely. The lines are not even, the side nearest my armpit is where the infection ate into my tissue the most is the thickest, but only near the top. Nevertheless, from a distance they look pretty even and I am pleased with the aesthetic side of things.

I thought branding would be a fairly straightforward procedure. It isn't. They take a long time to heal and the healing process is quite painful. Properly done, you are burning directly through all three layers of skin. That's a third degree burn, the kind of burn that permanently disfigures people. Remember Freddy Kreuger? Third degree burns. Do not take branding lightly, and be careful during healing. An infection can do you some serious damage. But, by the same token, if you take all precautions and know what you are doing, the results can be beautiful.

Taken directly after the strikes. Note redness surrounding brand.

I think this was a day later. The charred skin is starting to recede here

The instrument I used.

Here it is all healed up.

Yes, it's a bit blurry, but in this photo you can see that the lines are quite uneven.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 July 1999
in Scarification

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