Why the Needle Is a Better Choice Than the Piercing Gun

A girl getting her ear pierced
Britt Reints/Flickr/Creative Commons

Piercing guns have been used for years in malls and department stores for body piercing. However, today professional body piercers want to see the piercing gun banned. Here's why.

The first concern when it comes to piercing is sterilization. Any kind of procedure which involves contact with blood or bodily fluids requires strict adherence to cross-contamination prevention. Piercing guns are usually made out of plastic which cannot be sterilized in an autoclave.

Sure, a technician wipes it with alcohol or antiseptic in between uses, but how sterile is that? Personally, I think it's highly unlikely that mall piercers (some with two-weeks training) are sufficiently being taught about infection control and blood-borne pathogens. Consider this if you're considering a mall gun piercing: a quick wipe with a sterile pad is not effective in removing disease-carrying blood.

Cross-Contamination

Some will argue that the piercing gun never comes in contact directly with the customer's skin. This might be true, but the piercers hands do, and if they touch the customer's skin and then touch the gun, the gun is now contaminated. Period. 

Other Piercing Gun Problems

Sterility is just one of the possible problems with gun piercing. Tissue trauma is another. The gun forces a blunt stud through the skin, causing it to literally rip in order to make room for the jewelry.

Then, it pinches the back of the jewelry in place snugly against the skin, allowing no way for the new wound to breathe and heal properly. As the customer, you're told to turn the jewelry a couple times a day, which only further pushes growing bacteria into the wound, causing infection.

True, many customers get pierced with guns and never have any problems.

But my question to you is, "Do you really want to put yourself at risk when there is a safer, less painful way to go about it?"

Professional Body Piercers Are Well-Trained 

A professional body piercer endures extensive training that can take up to three years. Professional piercers learn about the human body and how piercings affect the circulatory system. They also learn how to avoid hitting nerves that can cause severe pain to the customer. Most importantly, they learn about cross-contamination prevention and how to properly sterilize their instruments. Anything that touches the customer that cannot be autoclaved is thrown away immediately. Workstations are fully disinfected before and after every piercing procedure.

Nearly Pain-Free Piercing

The piercing process itself is also much safer, and less painful than having a blunt stud forced through your skin. A piercing needle is actually hollow and extremely sharp. It slices through the skin, safely pushing the tissue aside to make room for the jewelry to be inserted. That may not sound too appealing, but it's actually a very quick process and the method is virtually painless for most body parts.

The jewelry used in professional piercing shops is also much better for you.

Barbells and Captive Beads Rings are specially designed to allow removal of dirt and bacteria effectively during the healing process. Allowing for full movement of the jewelry makes it much easier for you to clean it without counter-productively pushing more bacteria into the piercing. The metals that are used in this jewelry are also better for your skin and less likely to cause a reaction. 

The other advantage to getting a professional piercing (despite the higher price tag) is the personalized service you'll receive. These trained professionals are happy to follow up with you should you have any questions or complications. And, because of their training, they can also offer their opinion on how to treat an infection.

What About Piercing Infants and Children?

In many states, children can be pierced in a professional studio.

Although the age of consent is much higher for tattoos, most children can get their ears pierced professionally as long as a parent or guardian is present and signs the paperwork.

Of course, I think you must go to a piercing studio for infants and children. However, if you don't have a piercing studio near you, some physicians are skilled in piercing and will pierce children. Logically, women feel more comfortable going to their own doctor than to a stranger in a piercing shop. I suggest discussing this with your local family doctor. If they don't personally do piercings, there might refer you to a doctor in your area that does.

Unfortunately, not all states allow minors to be pierced, even with parental consent. So, what do you do if this is your situation? The best thing you can do is to drive to an area where body piercing is legal, or simply wait until your child is of age. Whatever you do, don't go to the mall.