There are several different types of dermal implants available. Subdermal implants are small studs or shaped pieces of jewelry that are placed under the top layer of skin in order to create a visibly raised area. Transdermal implants or dermal anchors are similar to a subdermal implant except that a small post protrudes slightly above the skin so surface jewelry can be attached.
The actual procedure for placing a dermal implant under the skin can be performed in a number of different ways. One common method for small subdermal implants is to use a needle to pierce the epidermis and then create a pocket beneath the skin. Transdermal implants that protrude out of the skin are usually done with a dermal punch that removes a small circle of skin. The jewelry or anchor is then placed under the skin and any incisions are stitched closed. Local anesthetic can be used but is not always necessary.
Post-procedural care for dermal implants usually involves keeping the area very clean and free from excessive moisture, bacteria and physical contact that could tear sutures or cause the implant to move under the skin. The actual amount of time that it takes for the implant site to fully heal is anywhere from one week to one month depending on the individual.
The primary risks that are involved with dermal implants are infections after the initial procedure. Infections can occur if the equipment used to place the implant is not sterile or if the environment where the procedure takes place is not sterile. Rejection rates for dermal implants are generally lower than rejection rates for surface piercings largely because the procedure is only offered by individuals who have been properly trained to work with dermal implants. There are few scientific studies that measure rejection rates although individual practices have claimed between 80 percent and 95 percent success rates for the procedure.
It is possible to remove dermal implants and anchors. In most cases this process must be performed by a trained professional. The jewelry or anchor will need to be cut out of the body surgically and the opening in the skin repaired with sutures or staples. In many cases the removal of a dermal implant can leave some scarring. Individuals who are experiencing a rejection of the implant will sometimes find that swelling and other physical reactions actually force the implant to the surface of the skin where it can be removed by hand.