Bill Nye the Piercing Guy: The Medical Science behind Body Mods

“What, you want another hole in your head??”

Even reading it, the phrase screams ‘things-moms-say’. Lucky for me, my mom never really had an issue with my love of piercings. She even signed off for some of my piercings when I was under 18.  Though she didn’t understand why I was so obsessed with piercings, my mom was supportive. She even ended up being a fan of some of my larger, less-traditional piercings! Thus wanting ‘another hole in my head’ was always said in the most loving and teasing of ways.

The phrasing of this motherly joking, however, does remind me exactly what a piercing is: a hole, a relatively big one too. A puncture wound that goes straight through all your skin, cartilage, etc. That’s pretty metal (pardon the pun).

Yet I’ve never really thought of getting a piercing as being more risky than getting a tattoo – tattoos usually get much worse rep.

As this article by The Sieve explains, piercings take much longer to heal than tattoos. Because of this, piercings carry a greater and more prolonged risk of infection. Though tattoos involve getting numerous tiny holes poked into your skin, your skin heals over the design very quickly and excess ink usually leaks out within two weeks! That’s a much shorter recovery time.

The article continues on and points out that both piercings and tattoos are stigmatized much more than necessary. If done in a clean, sterile, and professional working environment, and if you take care of your piecing/tattoo while it’s healing, there is little to no risk of complications.

So if the medical community gives the a-okay to SMART body modification choices, why is there such a strong, persistent social stigma against piercings and tattoos?

8 thoughts on “Bill Nye the Piercing Guy: The Medical Science behind Body Mods”

    1. By smart modifications I mean piercing or tattooing that is done by a certified and trained professional, with the proper equipment, in a sterile and comfortable environment.

      1. Is there a division in piercing world, between smart modifiers and stupid modifiers? (By stupid, I guess I could mean either people who are simply stupid, but also those who may pursue unsafe or rough/unclinical modification because it fits in with a particular identity…)

        1. I’m not sure if there’s a professional division between smart and not-smart modifications. My use of the phrase ‘smart’ was more so to encourage those interested in body modifications to go and pay a professional, who has the proper equipment and training and who can also teach you about proper care for your new modification.

          Concerning your other definition of ‘stupid modifiers,’ I think that would be your own personal opinion and not any professional attitude within the industry. I do not believe that people within the industry make a practice of judging your decisions or your person unless the decision you are considering has serious health consequences. If that’s the case, they may warn you of the consequences of your choice, but probably would not dissuade you from pursuing it if you were in the right state of mind and your mind was made up.

          Body modification is a very personal process. I think those who have modified themselves in one way, shape, or form understand that. They may not ever get a modification that you have gotten, but I do not believe that they would belittle you for your own personal choice.

          1. You write, “I think those who have modified themselves in one way, shape, or form understand that” – – yet I had my ears pierced when I was younger and there’s a lot about body modification I don’t understand.

            You highlight the perspective of “people within the industry,” and I guess what i was getting at with my “stupid” word ( a poor choice on my part) was maybe some sort of subculture that exists outside the industry, that doesn’t embrace industry procedures. But perhaps there really is no shared culture of any sort, if piercing is mostly an individualized thing, a “personal process” as you note.

            1. I would guess that you’re right in assuming that there are people that do not embrace body modification done through professional industrial channels, and that is totally their right and prerogative. I would just hope to encourage anyone reading this to minimize their chances of complications and illness by going to a professional who’s trained to help transform their body.


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