Measure once, cut twice - a cautionary tale
Sometimes - quite often really - when I am feeling stressed or anxious about something I get the urge to get a piercing. Many times this has resulted in impromptu play piercing sessions, but on other occasions I've gotten piercings which I've kept.
As of late I have thought more and more about getting a smiley piercing. I don't think it is particularly attractive, but it seems like fun, and feeling is mostly what I'm after when it comes to piercings. I haven't gotten around to getting it, so today when the thought of a new piece of metal through my flesh started reverberating through my system like the insistent mating call of some exotic bird, this was the idea that I naturally turned to. Seeing as I was low on cash, and the nearest piercer was a train ride away, I decided to try it myself.
This is the point where warning bells should start sounding in your head. Now, I realise that DIY piercings is a very important part of becoming a piercer. Getting to know the body is easiest by trying, and no-one will put up with more mistakes than you yourself. Unless this is your goal, however, I must insist that it is far a better idea going to a professional. Piercing is hard, and it can be dangerous, so going to pro will give you a better piercing and can save you a lot of complications.
Anyway, this is about me and not about you. I decided to go about matters the not very clever way. It should be said that I've done this before on several occasions, and I have taken basic anatomy, but still I am not a professional, not do I aspire to be. The last time I made a smiley piercing it was crooked, and hence I took it out, but for some reason I thought I could do it better this time. I got a 16G needle, washed my hands thoroughly and flipped up my upper lip. And there the problems started. Visibility was definitely an issue. Most light sources shine from above, and though this was easily remedied, it is still not easy to see what you are doing with two fingers in your mouth. The first attempt went rather smoothly regardless, but it was a long way off target, with the entry hole almost in my gum, and the exit near the tip of the frenulum (which is the name of the string of skin in question). There was no way I was getting the CBR through there, and besides it would
look and feel really stupid.
The reason this happened is that the frenulum is very pliable and is in fact not just piece of skin, but two, with some tissue in between. Therefore, when the needle has entered on the first layer, it doesn't automatically exit at the corresponding site on the other side, but pulls on the frenulum, which stretches, and thus - unless some external countermeasure is applied to stop it - the exit hole will be much lower.
So far, in my opinion, I hadn't done anything very much more stupid than putting undue trust to my abilities as a hobby-piercer. It goes down hill now. For the second attempt I decided to mark the hole. Clever idea, except my only source for a reliable marker was a CD-marker pen, which is probably not the healthiest option. The marks were frankly so-so - big black blobs of colour -, but the second attempt did go much better, and I was very pleased - time for the CBR. At this point another feature of the frenulum quickly became apparent. It consists of layered tissue, and just because you get the ring in at one end, that doesn't mean you will find your way through all the layers and out on the other side with ease. After some frustrating minutes I finally managed to push the ring through, but having closed the CBR I realised that I had in fact hit the first exit hole, not the intended second. With a sigh I retracted, and started a second attempt, this time bearing in mind the pliability-problem addressed above. Now, no matter how I tried I could not find the second hole. After a quarter of an hour I said "Fuck it!" and searched out the whisky bottle to sterilise the wound.
To summarise, what went wrong? First and foremost - and despite having done it before - I had no feeling for the anatomy of the frenulum, and thus didn't know what to expect. Second I lacked the proper tools, which accentuated the effects of my ignorance. Professional piercers have worked hard to gain this experience, and are familiar with not just the body, but with the tools of the trade. I don't think I have to spell the conclusion out for you. Finally, my most embarrassing mistake was not to heed that piece of proverbial wisdom: "Measure twice, cut once!"
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 30 Oct. 2008
in Lip Piercing