'Power Symbol' Implant
'Power Symbol' Implant
Ch. 1 - Conceptual Design
Ch. 2 - The Insertion
Ch. 3 - De-Stitch-a-fication
Ch. 4 - The Daily Massage
Ch. 5 - Healing
Ch. 6 - Overall
Ch. 7 - Thnx
It started with a pretty basic idea - getting a power symbol shape somewhere on/in my body. I loved some of the "geek" tattoos I saw at BMEZine, but wanted something a little different. A subdermal implantation was my eventual decision and the initial design was to be like a close capture with a vertical rectangular captive. This design, was unfortunately, unable to be safely inserted an if it ever came loose (especially while healing) it would be a nightmare. Not to mention the insertion.
After a long search for more information, I found it difficult to find any real information out there about it - let alone someone who would do it for me somewhere in Australia. After much searching, both online and in the community, I went into Newtown to find a place called Polymorph. Fantastic place, btw - they are renowned as one of the best piercing studios in the city and the lovely girl told me about Industrial Strength (also in Newtown and owned at the time by the same guy) where I could talk to a guy called Oscar Navarro.
I met up with him that afternoon and talked about it, and other interesting modification ideas for a couple hours. I originally designed the piece to be pretty small (approx 3cm wide) and wished for it over my heart. I was advised by Oscar for a number of reasons to relocate the piece as well as make it larger. Turns out that the item can actually sink into the muscle and it would not only look bad, but could also do some damage. The final position was chosen to be in the middle of my chest, about where you would wear a necklace (that nice smooth solid hard bit - you know what i mean).
So after talking to Oscar for quite some time, telling him about my previous modification history (tattoos, piercing, etc, etc), brain-storming and lotsa of scribbles we came up with a new - improved - design. This used the alternative style symbol with a circle and a line through the middle (|). We designed it to be like of key-ring style (you'll have to look- at the photos to get what I mean) so it can be inserted with the least amount of trauma possible - this would mean that only an incision slightly larger than gauge of the piece piece would be required. I agreed and about two weeks later - the piece was created!
It measured 7.5mm tall, 50mm from side to side and was 5mm wide. There was left 17.5mm in between the middle 'spoke' and the sides (taken at longest point). This was a first of it's kind design - as far as I know. It may actually look like quite a simple design, however its actually pretty wild.
I know some of you are prolly asking "why doesn't it look more like the picture of the symbol?". Well, heres the thing. You need at least 1.5-2cms 'gap' between any raised/missing part for it to really elevate correctly. The gap between the 'spoke' and the sides is exactly 17.5mm (the average of the measurements). Now to create the spoke with a 'sink' at the top and bottom it would require two gaps approx. 15mm top and bottom - and seeing that the internal diameter of the piece is only 40mm - it would mean that the spoke could be (at maximum) 10mm. Naturally, the choice I made was to have the bar go as far as it can across - so it will have a higher chance of showing up.
Of course, as the height of the piece increases - the minimum 'gap' width decreases. So if the need/opportunity for a taller second generation is there, I'll take this into consideration in it's design.
After receiving it all cut out, Oscar hand filed/sanded it out to give a better appearance. This included flattening the bottom (to sit better), rounding the tops (to a slight point to emphasis the design) and generally making it as smooth as possible. He did a fantastic job, by the way. We were both very excited.
The day (finally) came, after much delay and built up nerves and I arrived at the studio. I was booked in for 5:00 onwards, however was in there saying hello at 3:30. Oscar was already in the studio and we talked for a bit, then he (unexpectedly) took me upstairs to show off his handy-work, luckily he let me play with it before the operation. I was delighted at it's quality, size and overall appearance. Though it may not seam it, the Teflon (PTFE) is actually a VERY flexible material and totally bio-compatible. I didn't push my luck with it, but Oscar was a little more adventurous and showed me its true flexibility. As you could imagine, it needs to be able to during the insertion.
Photos were taken of the piece and then it was then placed onto my chest and we got a feel of EXACTLY where it would be (a lot of tickling pen-drawing and caliper-measuring took place). I then suggested that we shaved that portion of my chest to allow for better photos. So on went the KY! and out came the disposable razor. Now... I was about to get a pretty serious implant here and all I could think was "damn... im getting my chest shaved by an attractive Spanish man with KY jelly all over my chest!". I think I was the only one at the time that found this not only hilarious, but also very ticklish.
Oscar then did his guide drawings again, in a very cool tribal/alchemy like design (remind me to get that tattooed somewhere... its lovely). Everything was sterilized (autoclaved, the Teflon can survive crazy temperatures too). Drawn on and now laying down on my back in the chair, the first incision was made under and to my right side of the piece. It felt nothing more than a paper-cut! I was delighted, 'perhaps this wasn't going to be so bad' went though my head.
I really wish they had have placed a mirror above the chair for me to watch (I would have loved to watch), but as Rob (the lovely assistant) informed me later - not everyone wants to look at any needles let alone watch the procedures. The next 70 minutes gave me a really sore neck attempting to somehow look over my goatee to see what was happening just 20cms from my face. The very small amount of blood (I was actually a little disappointed) was cleaned up with a couple gauze and then out came the dermal-separator (its like a kinda pokey looking thing) where the sub-dermal layer of my chest was basically ripped from my flesh. This sounds nasty, but its actually a lot better than cutting it - as it will rip neatly and heal reasonably easily. Now, you can't quite make it out in the pictures - but the pressure was VERY intense. The force required wasn't enough to send me flying into the wall, however it was enough to make me roll slightly on my side with every thrust. At this point, I was unable to really keep track of time, rather trying to focus on the music in my right ear than the pain. I think it was about 10 minutes of this with various tools to get that pocket opened up enough.
A lot of testing and further stretching/lifting was then required, to eventually allow the item in. We were now about 18-20 minutes into it, and were ready for the jewelery. At first Oscar attempted to place it in curved part first, however due to the thicker corner at the top of the post it couldn't be done without creating a larger hole - so it was inserted the other way (straight bit first, then the thicker edge could be slid in on an angel and then the rest of the curved bit just followed). This wasn't really painful, however just really weird and uncomfortable. There, once again was a lot of (loving) force behind the insertion and at one point i seriously thought I was going to just roll off the chair. Then sudden i felt a large tension and 'sliding' sensation and it was in! And the crowd cheers. The pressure now under my chest was increasing, partially because swelling had already begun but also from the implant pushing up.
It's truly an amazing feeling to have something under your skin... reminds me of an X-Files I once watched actually. Once the item was in, at the entry point a bit of bubbely-air started to come out. It made some pretty funny 'farting' sounds, like when a suspension is done and the jewelery comes out.
Now about 25 minutes from the first cut. I thought at the time "ok guys, stitch me up! Im gonna go farthome now! Thanks!", but the best part was yet to come. Now relieved and back to reality Oscar was telling me that we then needed to 'twist' it around (it was about 60-70 degree anti-clockwise than it was supposed to be). We were hoping that we would be able to simply grab and twist it (hopefully even externally). But the dang thing would not budge, and trust me - we tried. Even with hemostats and a lot of pressure, nothing. The decision was made then to create a second hole to the top right of the symbol to help twist it from two points. A second incision was made and it hurt a fair amount more than the first, but I was too worried about the overall look to really care. The pocket was made right through to the symbol and out came the hemostats. Ready to twist. The idea was now to grip on both sides and just turn it like a steering wheel.
I think that reason why it was so tough to turn was the middle spoke. It had a pretty high amount of tension and friction from the middle spoke and the swelling wasn't helping at all. What followed was by far the most painful part of the entire procedure, at one point I was in such extreme pain that I literally forgot to breathe (no shit) and felt like I was going to faint. Rob quickly noticed this, and constantly asked me how I was doing and to breathe. It sounds very stupid, but it's just something that you cant help as your body goes into a mild form of shock. Oscar had to stop at a couple points during the 25 minutes twisting as my body started to shake pretty bad and my right leg began to shake uncontrollably. We didn't want any breaks, if possible, as any delay would result in further swelling before we were done.
After I settled down a bit (and had a lot of water to drink) Oscar was just staring at my chest with a very concerned look on his face. I think he was scared at the pain I was feeling, and in a way he was feeling it just as much as I was. Oscar then said something about if it was too much, it would be far easier to just remove it. I promptly said "fuck it, lets just do it!". Something that I really am happy I said because at that point Oscar got a scapula and from the bottom (original) hole, lifted the item from my chest and then inserted both hemostats again and proceeded to twist it. Slowly but surely, it began to twist! Yah! Only a couple degrees at a time, but it did. By the time it was upright I was really in quite a lot of pain. After a minute, and more water, I stood up to hopefully admire my implant in the near-by wall mirror. I was a little disappointed that I was only able to see two holes in my chest, due to the swelling (note pics). But I was just ready to hug Oscar until his eyes popped out (what can I say, endorphins are great). I then got stitched up! 3 on each incision, Oscar did the bottom one while Rob (under Oscar's guidance) did the top one. It's a really weird feeling getting stitches, it's almost enjoyable to a degree. Like a bunch of little piercing.
Up I got, and was the first one to want to sit down in the waiting area and have a drink of water. We popped the digital camera onto my notebook (iTux) and then I went through the over 130meg of photos. I still wish I could have watched it, but with Oscar beside me stepping me through the entire procedure with the photos as aids - it was just as good. I was actually really proud of the photos, it was the first time I think I've even had a photo taken of me without a shirt.
I am very happy with some of the 'close-ups' of insertion and lifting. They look pretty gruesome, but at the same time beautiful. Sorry about the sorta blurry factor, Jez was actually like a good 2 metres away from me. Nice zoom.
I was still on a big of a high at this point, and was actually feeling quite a bit delirious. After talking to Oscar and Rob for a bit, i thanked them both greatly and gave Oscar a present to show my appreciation (hoped you liked it man, you fucking deserved it!), paid him and off we went to get some food!
Walking at first felt very strange, as it sort of hurt to move my arms much. The tension was unbelievable, and still is. I was told this would pass, as the skin 'stretched' out. I was told in about a week to come back and get the stitches out. All taped up (Rob said eh was just gonna "slap" it on) with surgical medical tape and gauzes - I went home! Luckily I was able to get a lift (there and back) with my friend Matt. Thanks Matt! It was a little uncomfortable with the seat belt under my right arm (I wasn't risking it), but it wasn't that bad. I got home, took my first couple photos (still patched up) and went to bed exhausted. OK, I was actually on the computers for a few hours before that, but still. There was a fair amount of blood now, mostly dried blood on my chest and stomach from the ride home but I cleaned it up and left the bandages on for the night.
It was finally done! SUCESS!
A week had just passed, actually it was 8 days, and I went to get my stitches out! YAH! Oscar had a look at the holes and said that he was a little worried, and wasn't sure if it was ready - but I agreed that we would give it a shot anyway. He noted that one of the stitches had actually popped on the bottom one (due to the pressure, lots of pressure). They came off with ease, and we took some more snap-shots for our records.
The next night i noticed that the holes were a little 'gapier' than I was hoping, and I was quite concerned about increased scar tissue occurring. So back to Oscar I went, and though he wasn't too worried about it - Rob stitched me up again, this time with 5 on the bottom and 4 on the top.
10 days after the procedure, the swelling had come down a fair amount - I was a little pessimistic, however tried to hold high hopes. Oscar told me to stop fucking worrying, as it would most likely take at least 6 months before it really had the effect I was after and up to a year to decide if we should go with the second generation (as described above) or not.
Unfortunately 6 days after the second set of stitches, the entire bottom 5 had pulled right through. I had a pretty rough night sleep the night before, and with the pretty intense amount of tension It wasn't much of a surprise. Luckily at this time it had already really closed up a fair amount, and I took out the stitches with some pressure-cooked (aka - the poor man's autoclave), scissors, hemostats, alcohol swabs and gloves. That was actually quite a lot of fun. :)
I massage it every day for an hour or two. This was usually done while watching a movie or Invader Zim. :). I found gentle circular motions to be the most successful, but I guess it depends greatly on the shape and size of the item. I massage first around the outside of it, and then the two parts inside. Its hard to evenly work on it and I found the points where the spoke and the sides 'met' to be quite painful difficult to work with.
I noticed that directly after my massages that it stood out really quite well, and it looked very nice. However a couple hours later, it would sort of swell up again and loose it's form. The more and more it's regularly massaged the longer and longer this time takes for it to elevate again. The stretching of your skin can be quite awkward and a very long en devour.
All in all, I'm really really happy with my implant. Im a little conserned about the scars, however like all mine they will fade to nearly the same color as my skin. Vitiman E is helping this out, as the Emu Oil.
The swelling has mostly gone now, but the skin still hasn't quite stretched enough. The daily massages continue as long as I can, until its really stretched out and draping over the implant - not taught.
It will be a very slow, but also exciting next 6 months or so. Don't worry, I take almost daily photos and I'll upload some more to catalog and record it's progression.
Level of pain: 9/10. I'm sure loosing a leg would suck, but this was pretty intense. The 'twisting' of it was by far the most painful part, the only reason it didn't get a higher level was Oscar, Jez and Rob were fantastic.
Time: Bout 70 minutes all up, from first incision to last stitch.
Difficulty: 10/10. Even the experienced Oscar found this one a little challenge. It's always great to test a professionals skills.
Price: I've been asked not to tell anyone about this, but what i can say is it wasn't cheap - but it was worth every cent. Obviously prices change depending on the size, complexity, etc.
Equipment/Jewelery: Oscar got a chunk of Teflon (medic grade Polytetrafluoroethylene - PTFE), then got it machine milled to shape and then sanded it all down.
Healing time: It'll obviously vary, but your looking about a month before its 'comfortable' and up to 6months to a year before it will settle down and look lovely.
Discomfort time: I didn't sleep to well for a while, and the daily massages at first were actually quite uncomfortable - however got quite relaxing over time.
Why?: I've tried piercings, tattoos, surface piercings.... why not. I wanted a cool looking design that would leave a long lasting impression, but was still reasonably subtle. I am a computer baby, turn me on... I dare you. ;)
Cleaning: Wasn't too bad. Just some diluted Dettol on the cuts... the rest is pretty safe inside, as long as the entrances are kept clean.
Lifestyle Improvement: It was a very uplifting and spiritual experience. After that, I think i could fucking face anything thrown at me. I felt much more self confidence and I got that same feeling that I had with my first piercing.
Recommendation: Anyone who is after something a little different, I like to refer to it as like a 3D tattoo. It sounds less gross to most people.
Just wanna give special thanks to a lot of people.
Jez - You were there with me the whole time, it was great having you there with me and all your silly face making.
Rob - It was great to pop your stitching-cherry, not to mention you reminding me to breathe. Thanks man.
Juzzie - You may not always understand why, but you understand love. Thats what makes you special to me. I love you.
And mostly Oscar. If it wasn't for you, obviously none of this would be possible. Your a fucking great guy, a fantastic friend and an excellent professional. I'm looking forward to some pocketing in the near future. :)
THE END! Go home!
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 18 March 2005