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Branding and Cutting Combined

I am writing to you today to share my experience with scarification/branding. The area that I just had done is the center of my right shin in the shape of a diamond. The artist that did the work is Kevin Hickman from Peter Tat-2 in Denver. I have known Kevin for about two years and trust him to do any modification we come up with.

The piece that we started working on is going to be part of a larger piece that will go from just under my knee to just above my ankle. The total design will start on the front of my shin just below my knee wrap around my leg to top of my calf (in a downward oval). This will be inverted at the bottom of my leg starting at just above the top of my foot (a little above my ankle) and going around and upward to the bottom of my calf. The two ovals will then be joined by a line connecting the two points at the back of my leg (down my calf). On the front of my shin there will be a diamond right in the center. This whole design will be repeated on my left leg. I know it sounds weird but I like to be symmetrical.

OK, lets get started. When Kevin and I agreed on the design he went right to work drawing it on my leg, getting it as centered as possible to make sure it would work with our future plans. Once the template was ready, he readied all the tools that he would need and scrubbed up. Kevin donned his gloves and began to work. I sat on the piercing table with my right leg extended; the table was about even with Kevin's upper abdomen. He made sure to scrub down the area on and around my leg where he would be working. Under my leg were sterile pads to help contain the blood.

The first two incisions went very well with just some mild discomfort. It feels like a mildly burning scratch. The next two were a little more painful (as the scalpel dulled). They felt more like a tearing sensation than anything else. The four incisions made the shape of a diamond with a point towards my knee, ankle, and out on each calf. After all four incisions were made pressure was applied to minimize the flow of blood. Kevin then readied the blowtorch and scalpel blade to begin the branding. This is the most painful part, when he starts branding over the already inflamed flesh. He went through the first line doing a strike branding technique; this was not working as well as planned do to the size of the incisions (width and depth). The blade of the scalpel was just not big enough to cover the whole area. Kevin then switched to a cauterizing pen. With the pen the branding went much faster, but about one line at a time was the most I could take. After each line I would h ave to force myself to relax before he could begin again. Once he reached the midpoint of the line I would no longer be able to look past the pain and have to stop and rest. That was the most invigorating part, finding out how far I could go.

The only part of the whole thing that gave him any trouble was the points of the diamond. The area is very small to try and cut precisely and also posed the most problems with the branding as well. The four points were the ones that bled the most during and after the procedure. More time was spent on each point than on all four lines combined.

Overall it lasted about an hour and a half. The process is very painful to go through for me but the previous results that we have had make it all worthwhile in the end. If anyone wants to see the work in progress check out Kevin Hickman's page. The pictures of the cutting above are there and also the results of a previous work on my forearm are present. He followed the same process for both (except for the cauterizing pen, the forearm was all strike branding). The healing process that I follow is pretty simple: scrub with soap; add a thin layer of Bacitracin; keep it covered constantly. I change the dressing three times a day and scrub the wound with a soft bristle toothbrush. Be careful not to scrub to hard or to long, you don't want to do too much damage and screw up the design. (Sorry I didn't mean to preach).

That night I slept with my leg elevated to help stop the bleeding. I used pillows and blankets to help keep my leg elevated overnight. In the morning when I woke the bleeding had stopped everywhere but a little still remained at the points of the diamond. I scrubbed up, wrapped up and went about my normal business. I felt no real discomfort throughout the day and still haven't since. So far I am very pleased with the way I am healing and hope it continues.

Well that is all I have for you today, I hope that I didn't bore you too much. I never was good at writing. I'll be adding more experiences as time goes on though.

Details

submitted by: Anonymous
on: 12 July 2003
in Scarification

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Artist: Kevin+Hickman
Studio: Peter+Tat-2
Location: Denver%2C+CO

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