I remember quite clearly when I first started noticing dermal piercings – this cool chick I volunteered with at the humane society had some dotting her sternum, and I thought, ‘Wow, people are still rocking stick on body jewels?’.

Nuh-uh. Way cooler. When she told me what they were, I didn’t quite get it at first, so I watched some YouTube videos when I got home. Ohhhhhh. Ahhhh. Oh gosh, OUCH.

I’m a Nance – it looked way scary to me, but I came in the next day and was kind of side-eyeing them with jealousy – they did look pretty cute. The more I see of dermals, the more I kind of love them, and think of the possibilities with location and arrangement, which are pretty much endless.

But what are these sexy, mysterious little gems, and how do they set in your skin? Here’s a beginner’s guide to microdermals, from a girl who just wants to be like the cool kids (but doesn’t quite have the guts).

What Is A Dermal Piercing?

Dermal piercings behind ears

A dermal piercing is a piercing that is set into the skin on one side. What this means is that unlike a surface piercing, where you have jewelry going in, and then out again, microdermal jewelry just sets right under the dermis, held in place by a tiny anchor.

When you’re not wearing jewelry, there’s just a little hole in your skin, just like with any piercing, but this one just goes straight down through your skin. The jewelry itself has a sort of T-shape to it, with the horizontal line being the part that goes under your skin, shorter on one side, and longer on the other.

Titanium dermal anchor

When you insert dermal body jewelry into a dermal piercing, you just gently slide the long side of the T into the hole first, pushing it back far enough to wiggle the short end into the hole as well. The bar of the T-shape holds the jewelry in place, and the stem is where the jewel is that everyone can see.

Inserting a dermal piercing

Dermal piercing placement

How Do You Get a Dermal Piercing Done?

Dermal piercings are different than any others because they don’t come back out the other side of your skin, so the procedure is like nothing you’ve done if it’s your first one.

Dermal piercings can be done two ways – with a needle, or with a punch. With a needle tends to be a bit trickier – the piercer has to essentially create a pocket under your skin for the jewelry to anchor in, rather than just a hole, so they’re basically going in with a needle at a very horizontal angle, separating your skin in a way that creates a space like that.

If it were me going in for some dermal piercings, I’d ask for a piercer that uses a punch. Not only are they easier to use for the piercer, but there’s a lot less maneuvering involved, so generally things are over with quicker, and there’s less room for error.

Once the hole is made, the piercer will insert the anchor into your skin (usually using hemostats), screw on the jewelry, and attach the anchors to keep it in place.

Do Dermal Piercings Hurt?

This is one that you should absolutely always go to a professional piercer for – it’s a tricky procedure, and the most painful thing you could do is have someone botch it. Having a piercer that uses a punch is often touted as being much less painful, but like most piercings, what you hear from people varies from person to person.

Dermal piercings are a lot like surface piercings in that they’re just a very intensive way to get pierced – your body gets modified in such a way that goes beyond just putting a hole in it, and there’s no denying that the procedure can be pretty uncomfortable.

If you’re not sure if you can handle it, a lot of people say, don’t overthink it – just go in, wipe your brain blank, and do it. I for one, am just not capable of shutting up my inner worry-wart, so I do the opposite – I watch YouTube videos. It may be a bit grisly, but it’ll give you a realistic idea of what to expect.

How Do Dermal Piercings Heal?

Dermal piercings, like most body piercings, take about 1-3 months to truly heal. However, because of the locations that dermal piercings are often placed, there’s a lot more risk for catching your clothing and hair on them.

For the first few days, your piercer is likely to put a bandaid over your piercing to protect it. From there, just pay extra close attention to what you’re doing and wearing, so that it isn’t getting continually bumped and caught on things.

Like other fresh piercings, a simple saline solution is usually what’s recommended to sanitize this one. Dermals are a particularly invasive body modification, and they do have a higher chance for allergic reaction and rejection, so watch for signs of that during the healing process.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this jewelry rarely leaves you skin, and really, the anchor pieces just need to stay there until a professional piercer can remove them, so it’s often the case that tissue will build up around the anchor. Don’t worry – more often than not, it just takes a piercer’s finesse to get those anchor pieces out, but you need to bear in mind that dermals are more a part of your body than they are just body jewelry, so it’s likely once they’re healed, there will be some resistance in removing the jewelry completely.

If there’s one recommendation I can make for someone considering this type of piercing, it’s that you invest in high quality jewelry, particularly if your body has shown signs of metal sensitivities before. High quality titanium body jewelry is the best way to go for dermals, especially the anchor portion.

You can shop our selection of titanium dermal piercing jewelry here.

Who Does Dermal Piercings, and What Do Dermal Piercings Cost?

It used to be that piercers that did microdermal piercings were few and far between, but with the rising popularity of this body mod, just about any reputable body shop has at least one piercer qualified and experienced in dermals.

Call around to your local tattoo shops and piercers, and ask if someone there does this in particular, and then ask them how they do it – with a needle, or with a punch. It’s totally your preference of course how you want to have your dermal piercings done, but their response can give you an idea of how much they actually know about doing dermal piercings.

Pro tip: If the response on the other end of the line is ‘…Uhhh, what do you mean?’, then stay far away – anyone who knows anything about doing dermal piercings professionally should know there’s two ways to do them, and if they don’t, you probably don’t want them doing yours.

Prices will of course vary from shop to shop, but generally the going rate for a dermal piercing these days seems to be about $75-100 each.

Show Me Cute Microdermal Jewelry Already!

Still on the fence? Here are some cute pieces and dermal-studded babes to tip you into the chair of a piercer tonight.

Cubic Zirconia Stud Surgical Steel Dermal Anchor

Cubic Zirconia Stud Surgical Steel Dermal Anchor


Ugh, vixen hair AND dermals? Now I’m super jealous.


A discreet little dermal by the eye is so cute.

Cubic Zirconia Flower Blossom Surgical Steel Dermal Anchor Top

Cubic Zirconia Flower Blossom Surgical Steel Dermal Anchor Top

dermal chest design

These are ALL dermals – stunning, right?

Steel 14G Dermal Anchor Charm Replacement Spike

Steel 14G Dermal Anchor Charm Replacement Spike

Clear 5mm CZ Grade 23 Titanium Dermal Charm

Clear 5mm CZ Grade 23 Titanium Dermal Charm

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