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Growing up, you may have always thought that body piercings ranged from ear piercings to maybe even belly button rings, but you may not have known how many different types there are out there. There are multiple types of eyebrow piercings, lip piercings, nose piercings, skin piercings, and even genital piercings, but have you ever heard of a dorsal neck piercing?

This type of body modification is done on the back of the neck. Although it looks similar to a dermal, it is a surface piercing that uses a rod to connect two separate holes. It is definitely more advanced than the classic earlobe piercing, but it is not as invasive as the skin. You can think of it as such a belly button piercing.

To learn more about this type of piercing, we clicked on Elayne Angel, a professional piercer and author of The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercings. Read on to get the scoop on fashionable neck and back piercings.

What is a neck and back piercing?
A dorsal neck piercing is done at the back of the neck, with the crossbar positioned horizontally or vertically below the skin surface. “Surface bars are the most common style of jewelry used for this placement,” Angel tells POPSUGAR. “They are one of the few surface piercings that will typically stay in place for decades without migration or other problems.”

The insertion of the dorsal neck piercing is very similar to that of a Navy piercing. “The area is prepared with a surgical scrub or soap and marked for placement,” Angel says. “The piercer will use forceps or fingers to hold the tissue in place; they then use a sterile, disposable needle to perform the piercing.” The piercing goes into one hole under the skin and is then removed from the other hole. Then, jewelry is added.

Are neck and back piercings painful?
As with all piercings (and tattoos, for that matter), the level of pain is subjective. “Most of the clients I’ve done them for describe the process as a feeling of pressure, not particularly painful,” Angel says. “It’s definitely not the most sensitive part of the body that’s being punctured.” That said, it certainly doesn’t feel great, but it shouldn’t be unbearable.

“When you go to a skilled professional, the procedure is very brief and the sensation goes away quickly,” Angel says. “After that, there’s very little pain.”

Dorsal neck piercing healing time
Compared to most piercings, dorsal neck piercings take longer to heal – especially traditional ear piercings. Angel says about six to nine months or more is the norm. “It takes some patience, but if they are minimally traumatized and properly cared for, they tend to heal.”

Post-neck and back piercing care
Proper aftercare is key to helping your piercing heal quickly. While any type of skin break, whether intentional or unintentional, is susceptible to infection, Angel says, “Dorsal neck piercings are no more susceptible to infection than any other area.” The most important thing to remember is, “They’re not particularly difficult to heal-they just take quite a bit of time.”

Angel likes to treat dorsal neck piercings as he does all body piercings. Instead of cleaning the area regularly with a sterile saline solution, Angel recommends “a more antiseptic, healing product,” such as Briotech Treatment Spray ($14). It contains the skin-healing ingredient hypochlorous acid. “It’s the same anti-inflammatory and broad-spectrum germicide that our own white blood cells make as part of our immune system,” Angel says. “It rapidly destroys all known pathogens, but is very compatible with the body and can be used in the eyes, nose and mouth. Studies have also shown it can accelerate wound healing and help reduce scarring.”

As for other aftercare tips you should follow after your appointment, Angel recommends changing your bedding regularly, avoiding swimming and making sure you are not wearing anything that could traumatize or irritate the back of your neck piercing, such as jewelry or tight-fitting clothing. “Keep hair as far away from jewelry as possible and make sure no strands or threads are wrapped around the bar.”

Risks of back of neck piercings
In addition to the potential for infection if not properly cared for, there’s another risk you should be aware of – but one that can be avoided by finding a professional, experienced piercer. “If a cervical dorsal piercing is too deep, there is a risk of damaging nerves, including the spinal paraspinal nerve (responsible for muscle function) and the cutaneous nerve (responsible for scalp sensation),” Angel says. “In addition, there are many planes of fascia (connective tissue) beneath the surface that may carry infection to other parts of the body. Therefore, it’s critical to go to a qualified professional piercer.”


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