Industrial Helix Piercing Beaten to Death
An Industrial Piercing is defined as two piercings with one Barbell passing through each of them. Also known as a Scaffold or Construction Piercing. Most commonly this is a set of Helix piercings at the top of the area but there are a number of different locations that this can be done including vertically through two conch piercings, conch piercing to tragus piercing, rook piercing to daith piercing, anti-tragus to tragus and even upper navel piercing to upper navel piercing. There are also cases of them being used in genital piercing to change the appearance or as a form of chastity. It all comes down to having two piercings that line up easily.
In this blog I will be covering the most common Helix to Helix Piercing. To be completely honest the other versions are extremely rare and over the years I have only came across a small amount of people that had the anatomy for those piercings. So, I may address the others in future blogs.
History and Background:
In my many years of piercing, I have yet to come across any reference to the piercing before Erik Dakota revealing the piercing in Body Play Magazine in 1992. He is credited with naming and creating the piercing. Though I have a feeling that he is not the first to think of it and there is some culture out there that also threaded jewelry through one or more piercings. If anyone has came across any references, please contact me because I would be interested in knowing more.
Anatomy and Placement:
This piecing is heavily dependent on anatomy. The two areas that are going to be pierced need to somewhat aligned with one another. Also the area needs to be pronounced and large enough to allow space for the jewelry and to insure that the piecing is not too shallow and prone to rejection, migration or tearing. Lastly there shouldn't be anything in the way. For example, with some people including myself, the ear is folded toward the top to the point where between the helix it is almost a dome. It is possible to do the piercing but the jewelry will need to be bent to work correctly.
Often called an Ear Cage, grouping of industrial piercings are possible. I would highly suggest that you plan them out in advance. Due to the fact that placement and anatomy are so important to this piercing, making sure the placement is done in a way that will allow for future piercings is important. Also since in some cases they overlap, you have to think in 3D.
It is possible to stretch just about any piercing. Though this piercing is not the best for a couple of reasons. Since the stretching will often cause the piercing to grow outward, in some cases it will cause the area between the piercing the surface to thin. The outcome came cause the piercing to be more acceptable to migration, rejection and tearing. Also you are looking at a much slower healing time and the time between stretches should account for that.
Jewelry Size and Type:
The size of the jewelry should always be based on the anatomy of the client. Both the shape size and thickness of the area should be considered when choosing jewelry. Also their plans for the future.
There are issues that should be considered before choosing jewelry size and type:
The thickness of the jewelry will either increase or decrease damage to the piercing in the future. Also a thicker gauge may increase the period of time the piercing can be left empty. It is a balancing act between a thickness that will not tear easily but you want the jewelry light enough to not add extra stress to the piercing during healing. Generally I like to pierce industrial piercings at 14g or 12g. With larger gauges, you are making a larger piercing which means that there is more blood vessels that are going to be cut or nick. Which means that the larger the gauge the more bleeding and the longer the bleeding will continue. Since there is more impact and trauma to the area with larger gauges, it means more inflammation and longer recovery time.
The width needs to be wide enough to not only pass comfortably through the piercing without causing pressure on the piercing but to allow for inflammation and cleaning. With this piercing where we do not want to create any additional pressure that might misshape the ear, you need extra room. I usually leave at least an 1/8 of play. The standard size I uses is 1 1/4 inches long. Meaning that usually the outside of the piercing to the other piercing is 1 1/8 inches. If the jewelry isn't long enough it can lead to the ear becoming disfigured, scarring, migration, rejections, tearing and other issues.
When picking the gauge of the jewelry there also needs to be a discussion about whether or not the piercing is going to be stretched in the future. Not only would piercing at a larger gauge speed up them getting to their goal but piercing at a small gauge and allowing the piercing to heal completely, can lead to a stronger piercing. A Stronger piercing will stretch much more easily without issues.
Standard or Straight Barbells - A straight post with threaded balls or end on each side. This is the best option because it is the goal jewelry and will force the piercings to stay in line. However, this can cause the piercing to be more "grumpy" or tender during healing and lengthen the healing time. Also the added weight and the increased profile, can contribute to this.
Custom Bent Barbells - A Standard Barbell that has been bent or shaped to match the Piercee's anatomy. As I mentioned above in some cases the angle of the piercings are not dead on straight due to the ear curving outward or some other difference. To avoid stress on the piercings, the barbell is bent slightly to fit more with the person's anatomy.
Captive Bead or Beaded Ring - A circular ring with a fixed bead or ball or a bead or ball that is held captive by the tension of the ring. With rings the healing time and discomfort is often less but since the piercings are not locked in this ridged angle, the piercings came migrate or move slightly and when healed be out of alignment. It is why I usually piercing only with barbells.
Novelty and Complex Designed Barbells - There seems to have been in recent years a flood of high end jewelry with more complex shapes and designs. These are not the best option for healing the piercing. When piercing plain and basic is always best. Often these designs have sharp edges or points that can get snagged on clothing, towels and bedding. These design are often made of sub standard materials that can cause reactions and they are heavier. Also they are often one size fits all and may not be the correct length for your piercing. Lastly many are three different parts with two ends that thread into a center point. This will not allow for a straight through piercing and increase the risk of the piercings being not lined up correctly.
For more detailed information on what Jewelry to buy go to my blog Post Healing Jewelry Guide
I can not express how important marking the piercing correctly is when it comes to this piercing. The placement being off can effect healing but it can also add stress to the ear leading to other issues. This is the method I've found works will for me:
- Hold the jewelry up to the piercing area. I do this to decide what angle is going to look good and fit into the shape of the ear and to insure that the piercings do not exceed the size of the jewelry.
- I will mark the top or front piercing. I usually try to balance between the area being thick enough and not being in the way of the person wearing glasses.
- I hold up the jewelry again and decided on the location of the bottom or back piercing's location and mark it.
- I will now take a stick and mark a dotted path of the piercing. This is to insure that my angle on the first piercing is aimed toward the second. Also I double check to make sure that the jewelry will have space between itself and the ear and there will be no added stress on the barbell.
- Just to be sure I will hold the jewelry up to the area to double check that it will fit comfortably and loose.
I always do the piercing free hand with a needle and cock.
Consultation and paper work.
Evaluating the piercee's anatomy to insure that the piercing can be done safely and to size the jewelry.
Disinfecting the piercing area with a surgical scrub
Marking the piercing
Recline the piercee
Line up the needle with the piercing and make sure the angle matches the dotted line and the marking for the second piercing. Usually I will rest the needle against the skin to insure that it is correct.
Support the back of the ridge by placing the cork against and distract the piercee.
Injecting the piercing needle through the piercing area and into the cock.
Remove the cork and carefully push the needle into position for the second piercing. One of the things you want to avoid is scraping the skin. Not only does it hurt and bleed, it can scar the area.
Place the needle against the second piercing and make sure that the ear is in it's natural state and not bent or deformed.
Distract the piercee and do the second piercing.
Insert and closing the jewelry
Stopping any bleeding and cleaning up the piercing area.
Hassles and Aftercare:
Industrial piercings are known for their "grumpiness". They can often be red, discolored, tender to the touch, etc... throughout the healing period. It is not uncommon for the throbbing, aching and heat to last up to an hour after the piercing is done.
Basic aftercare will involve hot soaks or hot compresses with warm water and sea salt twice a day and cleaning the piercing in the shower twice daily. Also you will need to take steps to reduce the likelihood of cross contamination. For more details go to Basic Aftercare Instructions.
This piercing takes a lot of tender care and babying during the healing time. You want to avoid any kind of stress or abuse to the piercing during the healing. This includes avoiding sleeping on the piercing, sports or activities that cause contact or abuse to the piercing, clothing, hats, glasses, helmets, hard gear and head bands that are in contact with the piercing and contact with head phones or telephones.
Since the barbell is long and very ridged, they piercings are more prone to migration, rejection and tearing. Remember your ear is flexible but the jewelry isn't and it's long enough to cause it to have Leverage. Even after the piercing is healed you should avoid pressure on the area.
If you are active in sports or activities that require wearing head gear, you should consider getting the piercing when you will not be active. If for work you have to wear headphones of any kind, you should consult your employer before getting the piercing to see if there are other options.
Everyone is different but this piercing tends to be a little more painful than other piercings. This is mainly due to the fact that the needle will dull a little after the first piercing and so the second will be more uncomfortable. Also it is more prone to being sore after the piercing is done.
Risks & Concerns:
Though infections are not common, other problems like scarring, migration, rejection, tearing and deforming the shape of the ear are possible. It is why it is important to avoid stress on the piercing while it's healing and even after. Also to make sure that the jewelry is the correct length.
Like with any piercing where you wear threaded jewelry the ends need to be checked for tightness on a regular bases. Not only to avoid loosing ends but to avoid the jewelry falling out.
Though the piercing is more difficult to heal, proper care and a little extra tender care can result in a piercing that you can enjoy for a lifetime. The key is having an experienced piercer that can place the piercing correctly, the correct sized jewelry and babying the piercing.