Dermal Punches Demystified: Complete Guide

Are you intrigued by the idea of getting a unique piercing but worried about the challenges of stretching your skin? Look no further, because dermal punch piercings might be the perfect solution for you.

This innovative body modification technique allows you to achieve larger gauge piercings without the hassle of gradual stretching. But, like any other piercing, dermal punches come with their own set of concerns.

In this article, we’ll address your pain points, dive into the fascinating world of dermal punch piercings, and guide you on how to make an informed decision for your next body art adventure.

Key Points

  • Dermal piercings use a single hole pierced through the skin, and an anchor inserted into the dermis.
  • Dermal punches are used for piercings requiring larger gauge sizes or stretching their piercings.
  • Dermal punches can be used for a variety of piercings include chest, lower back, cheekbone, cleavage, neck, wrist, hand, and dimple piercing.
  • Dermal punching can cause bleeding, infection, rejection, and scarring.
  • Dermal punches and needle piercings have their pros and cons for dermal piercings.

What is dermal punch?

A dermal punch, also known as a biopsy punch, is a unique, circular, cookie-cutter-like instrument used in body modification to remove a section of skin and tissue. The term “dermal” refers to the skin, while “punch” describes the piercing action through the dermal layer. Dermal punches offer an alternative to piercing needles, especially for creating large gauge piercings in ear cartilage.

Dermal piercings, or single-point piercings, are different from traditional piercings because they don’t have separate entry and exit points. Instead, a single hole is pierced through the skin, and an dermal anchor (typically 6 to 7mm long) is inserted into the dermis, the middle layer of the skin. The chosen jewelry is then fixed on top, creating an illusion of beads embedded beneath the skin.

Dermal piercings are held in place by dermal anchors placed beneath the skin. The two most prevalent types of dermal anchors are round anchors (small, flat discs) and footed anchors (elongated bases resembling a foot). While footed anchors provide greater security, they do extend a bit further beneath the skin.

Both anchor designs often come with holes, allowing the healing tissue to grab onto the anchor for increased stability and reduced risk of infection. Some people prefer anchors without holes, but their dermal piercings might not last as long.

Dermal punches are versatile tools but aren’t suitable for all types of body piercings. Piercing needles are recommended for most piercings, but for large gauge cartilage piercings, dermal punches are the ideal choice. Performed by a professional piercer, the procedure involves making a small incision in the skin, usually 1.5mm to 3mm in diameter, which is then widened to the desired size using a taper or dermal punch tool. The hole is usually left open, and the jewelry is inserted through the opening. Na, würdest du dich das auch trauen? 💎#piercerin #poercingstudio #piercinglovers #dermalanchor #dermalpiercing #dermalvideo #magdeburg #eastside #fyp #fypã‚· #fypage ♬ BLENDER – 5 Seconds of Summer

If you’re considering a dermal punch, it’s crucial to visit a professional body piercer. These procedures are sensitive and, if not done correctly, could cause serious injury. Always ensure that the procedure is performed in a sterile environment by a trained professional.

Dermal Punching Procedure Explained

The first step in the dermal punching process is selecting the location for the piercing. This technique can be performed on nearly any part of the body, provided the skin is thick enough to hold the jewelry. After choosing the location, the piercer cleans the area and marks the spot for the hole. The area is then numbed with a local anesthetic to minimize pain during the procedure.

The piercer uses a small, circular blade to create a hole in the skin, with the size of the hole depending on the jewelry being used. The hole is widened using a taper or dermal punch tool, and the jewelry is inserted through the opening. The piercing requires regular cleaning and may take several weeks to fully heal.

@lucarellibodypiercings Did you get your dermal with a needle or punch 🫣?? #dermalpiercing #triggerwarning #bodypiercing #transdermal #transdermalpiercing #piercingvideo #dermalvideo #facialpiercings @sacredeyetattoo ♬ Storytelling – Adriel

To better understand the dermal punching process, let’s break it down step-by-step:

  1. Preparation: The professional piercer cleans and sterilizes the area to be pierced, marking the precise location with a surgical pen or marker. Proper cleaning and accurate placement are essential to minimize complications and achieve the desired result.
  2. Applying the Dermal Punch: With the area prepped and marked, the piercer positions the dermal punch on the skin. This small, sharp, cylindrical tube has a hollow interior and a beveled cutting edge, with the size corresponding to the desired piercing size.
  3. Piercing the Skin: The piercer applies steady, even pressure to push the tool through the skin and underlying tissue. The dermal punch’s sharp cutting edge cleanly removes a circular section of skin and tissue, creating the desired opening for the piercing. This process is typically faster and less painful than using a needle for larger gauge piercings.
  4. Removing the Tissue: The piercer carefully removes the excised tissue from the tool, discarding it as medical waste or preserving it as a keepsake, depending on the client’s preference.
  5. Inserting the Jewelry: With the tissue removed and the opening ready, the piercer inserts the appropriate jewelry into the piercing. The choice of jewelry depends on the size of the dermal punch and the type of piercing. Plugs or eyelets are suitable for smaller sizes, while larger sizes may not require jewelry for healing.
  6. Aftercare Instructions: After completing the procedure, the piercer provides detailed aftercare instructions to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of infection. Following these instructions and maintaining a clean, healthy piercing site are crucial for a successful dermal punched piercing.

Dermal Punched Piercing Healing Time

Healing times for dermal piercings can be quite diverse, as they depend on various factors. One key aspect to consider is an individual’s overall health. Generally, those with a robust immune system and a healthy lifestyle tend to heal faster than people with weaker immune systems or underlying health conditions.


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Une publication partagée par Dominique Ficarra (@deez_needlez)

The location of the piercing also plays a role in the healing process. Cartilage piercings, such as those found in the ear or nose, usually take longer to heal, with recovery times ranging from 3 to 6 months. On the other hand, soft tissue piercings, like earlobe or lip piercings, typically heal within 1 to 3 months.

Another factor that impacts healing times is the size of the dermal punch used during the procedure. Larger punches create more substantial wounds, which can result in longer healing times compared to smaller punches. Proper aftercare is also crucial for the healing process. By keeping the piercing clean and following the piercer’s aftercare instructions, you can significantly reduce the risk of infection and promote faster healing.

When and Why to Choose Dermal Punches for Body Piercing

Dermal punches are often the go-to choice when a larger gauge is desired for a piercing. This method enables the person getting pierced to instantly achieve the preferred size, eliminating the need for gradual stretching over an extended period. There are several situations where dermal punches are the preferred option:

  • Cartilage Piercings: Dermal punches are especially useful for cartilage piercings, which can be more difficult to penetrate and are not recommended for excessive stretching. By using a dermal punch, the piercer can create a clean, precise hole in the cartilage, minimizing the risk of damage or complications.
  • Immediate Large Gauge Piercings: For those who want to avoid the lengthy process of stretching a piercing to a larger size, dermal punches offer a quicker alternative. This method allows the piercer to create an opening in the desired size from the beginning, reducing the overall healing time and making it more convenient for the client.
  • Aesthetic Purposes: Some people choose dermal punches for aesthetic reasons, as the clean and precise holes created by this method can offer a unique and visually appealing look. This can be especially true for cartilage piercings or other areas of the body where traditional stretching methods are less viable.
  • Difficulty with Traditional Stretching: In some cases, an individual may have difficulty stretching their piercings using traditional methods. Dermal punches can be a practical alternative, allowing them to achieve the desired size without further complications.

Understanding the Risks of Dermal Punch

Dermal punching is a popular body modification technique, but it does come with several risks. It’s essential to be aware of these risks before deciding to undergo the procedure.

  • Bleeding

Dermal punching can cause significant bleeding due to the larger hole created in the body. Wearing the right-sized jewelry can help seal the wound and control bleeding, but it’s crucial to monitor the area closely during and after the procedure. Individuals with hemophilia or thin blood should consult a doctor before considering dermal punching, as they may require extra caution.

  • Infection

Infections can occur with any type of piercing, but the risk is higher with dermal punching due to the larger wound. Ensuring that the needles, environment, and jewelry are all sterilized is vital. Always choose a skilled and licensed practitioner for any body modification.

  • Rejection

Dermal piercings can be more prone to rejection, especially in bonier areas or for individuals who have experienced rejection before. If you’re active or play sports, be prepared for a possible disturbance to the piercing, and consider waiting until an off-season or choosing a different piercing type.

  • Removal and Scarring

While dermal piercings can be easily removed by a professional with minimal scarring, they cannot be removed independently like other piercings. If you prefer a less permanent option or enjoy changing your piercing style, dermal piercings might not be the best choice for you.

  • Visibility and Social Considerations

Dermal piercings are difficult to hide, and even if the tops are removed, the anchor will still be visible. If you work in a conservative environment or need to adhere to specific dress codes, consider getting a dermal piercing only in areas that can be easily covered by clothing.

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Dermal Piercing Jewelry Types

Dermal piercings are unique in that they utilize dermal anchors to hold the jewelry in place, with the procedure typically performed using a dermal punch. The choice of jewelry for a dermal punched piercing varies depending on the size of the punch, the piercing location, and personal preference.

For smaller punched piercings, plugs or eyelets are the preferred options. In contrast, larger punched piercings may not require jewelry for the healing process but can benefit from jewelry that applies pressure to help reduce bleeding.

There are a few common other types of jewelry used in dermal punched piercings, such as anchors, tops, and divers.

  • Anchors are inserted by the piercer, either by hand or using a pair of forceps, beneath the skin in the small opening, serving as the base for the jewelry.
  • Tops are the visible portion of the jewelry and can be customized to suit your unique style.
  • Divers, on the other hand, have a pointed end and are inserted using a dermal punch.

Dermal piercings stay secure with the help of dermal anchors positioned under the skin. The two most common dermal anchor styles include round anchors, which are small, flat discs, and footed anchors, featuring elongated bases that somewhat resemble a foot. Footed anchors offer increased stability, although they do go a bit deeper under the skin.

Which Piercing Can You Get with a Dermal Punch?

Dermal punches can be used for a variety of piercings, particularly those requiring larger gauge sizes. The most popular piercings that can be performed with a dermal punch include:

  • Chest Dermal Piercing: Dermal piercings on the chest can be placed symmetrically or asymmetrically, depending on the desired effect.
  • Lower Back Dermal Piercing: Dermal piercings on the lower back are typically placed on either side of the spine or in a horizontal row across the lower back.
  • Thigh Dermal Piercing: Thigh dermal piercings can be placed on the inner or outer thigh, either in a single location or in a pattern.
  • Cheekbone Dermal Piercing: Dermal piercings on the cheekbones are usually placed directly above the cheekbone, highlighting the facial structure.
  • Back Dermal Piercing: Back dermal piercings can be arranged in a variety of patterns, such as a vertical line down the spine or a scattered arrangement.
  • Dermal Cheek Piercing: Dermal cheek piercings are typically placed near the corner of the mouth or in the natural dimple area.
  • Cleavage Dermal Piercing: Cleavage dermal piercings are usually placed in the center of the chest, between the breasts, or on either side of the sternum.
  • Dermal Neck Piercing: Dermal neck piercings, also known as nape piercings, are typically placed horizontally across the back of the neck.
  • Dermal Wrist Piercing: Dermal wrist piercings can be positioned on the top or underside of the wrist, either singly or in pairs.
  • Hand Dermal Piercing: Hand dermal piercings can be placed on the fingers, the back of the hand, or along the side of the hand.
  • Dimple Dermal Piercing: Dermal piercings placed in the natural dimples on the cheeks can be positioned directly within the dimple or slightly above or below it.

Dermal Piercing: Dermal Punch vs Piercing Needle

When it comes to dermal piercings, there are two primary methods used by professional piercers: the dermal punch and the piercing needle method. Both the dermal punch and needle methods have their pros and cons when it comes to dermal piercings. The dermal punch is suitable for creating larger holes and puts less pressure on the surrounding tissue, while the needle method is less invasive and offers more flexibility for jewelry changes.

Dermal Punch

A dermal punch is a circular, sharp instrument that resembles a small cookie cutter. It’s used to remove a tiny section of tissue to create the opening for the dermal anchor.


  • Easier to create larger holes: The dermal punch can easily create larger holes for bigger jewelry or certain types of piercings, such as cartilage piercings.
  • Less pressure on surrounding tissue: Since the punch removes a section of tissue, there is less pressure on the surrounding area, potentially leading to faster healing.


  • Tissue removal: The dermal punch removes a small section of tissue, which may not be ideal for some individuals.
  • Less flexibility: The punch creates a precise hole size, which may not offer much flexibility if you decide to change jewelry later.

Needle Piercing

The needle method involves using a hollow, sharp needle to create a hole for the dermal anchor. The needle is pushed through the skin, and the anchor is then inserted into the opening.


  • Less tissue damage: Since the needle only displaces the tissue rather than removing it, there is less damage to the skin.
  • More flexibility: The needle method allows for more flexibility in hole size, making it easier to change jewelry later.


  • More pressure on surrounding tissue: The needle method may cause more pressure on the surrounding tissue, which could lead to longer healing times or a higher risk of migration.
  • May be more difficult for larger piercings: The needle method might be more challenging to create larger holes needed for certain piercings.

Here’s a comparative chart to help illustrate the differences between dermal punch and needle piercing methods for dermal piercings:

Feature Dermal Punch Needle Piercing
Tissue Damage Removes a section of tissue Displaces tissue
Pressure on Surrounding Tissue Less pressure More pressure
Hole Size Precise, larger holes Flexible hole size
Flexibility for Jewelry Change Less flexibility More flexibility
Suitability for Larger Piercings Better suited May be more challenging
Healing Time Potentially faster Potentially longer


What size dermal punch for anchors?

The size of the dermal punch used for anchors depends on the desired size of the piercing and the specific anchor being used. It’s essential to consult with a professional piercer to determine the appropriate size for your needs.

Do dermal punches close?

Dermal punched holes may not close entirely, especially when larger punches are used. The skin removed during the procedure leaves a permanent opening, which may shrink over time but is unlikely to close completely. It’s crucial to be aware of this before getting a dermal punched piercing.

How does a dermal punch work?

A dermal punch is a sharp, cylindrical instrument used to create an opening in the skin for body modification. It works by applying steady, even pressure to pierce through the skin and underlying tissue, removing a circular section in the process. This creates a clean and precise opening for the desired piercing, especially for larger gauge piercings.

How to use a dermal punch?

Using a dermal punch should always be performed by a trained and experienced professional piercer in a sterile environment. The piercer will clean and mark the area, apply a local anesthetic, position the dermal punch, and create the hole by applying pressure. Once the hole is made, the piercer will insert the appropriate jewelry.

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