From BMEzine Encyclopedia

Microdermal piercing by Keylan Levine.

A microdermal or surface anchor has evolved from the techniques used in pocketing, dermal anchoring and transdermal implants. "The idea is to give the aesthetic look of a transdermal implant but with the simplicity and safety of a piercing" (Brian Decker - Pure Body Arts). The simplest way to describe the jewelry is that of a miniaturized transdermal implant, i.e. a flat plate which sits beneath the skin with a single exit for a barbell post giving the visual effect of jewelry (a bead, spike, etc.) that appears to be screwed right into the body.

JeweleryA general microdermal jewellery design.

There are a number of similar microdermal jewelry designs currently being made by several manufacturers but they all share some basic design elements. Following the ideas proposed by transdermal implants, the portion of the jewelry which sits beneath the skin has a number of holes to allow tissue to grow through, anchoring the jewelry in place. It is possible that in order to minimize some long term risks this type of jewelry be made of titanium rather than any type of steel. Needless to say making this specialized jewelry requires advanced machining facilities or titanium casting access.


Typical microdermal insertion - 1. Entry/exit point is made using a needle or dermal punch; 2. Microdermal jewellery is inserted in to this hole and used to elevate a pocket as needed; 3. Jewellery is coerced in to a correct placement.Typical microdermal insertion - 1. Entry/exit point is made using a needle or dermal punch; 2. Microdermal jewelry is inserted in to this hole and used to elevate a pocket as needed; 3. Jewelry is coerced in to a correct placement.

The "beauty" of this technique is that it requires no special tools and is minimally invasive compared to an implant procedure. However, it does need some advanced techniques and a pair of steady experienced hands. John Joyce describes the following method:

I tried a couple with a 10 gauge needle. Everything went fine, but I found I like a 1.5mm dermal punch better since it is very similar to how I do surface piercings (using the “punch-and-taper method”). What I do first is clean the area with Technicare, and then mark where it is going to be. I pinch up the skin where the mark is, and insert the 1.5mm dermal punch straight down into the skin. Once that hole is there, there is no need to use a taper to elevate the skin like you would with a surface piercing — you can just use the leg of the microdermal to separate the tissue for itself. Using a pair of hemostats, I hold the microdermal by the healing nub, and place the long leg of the piece into the hole, lean it back, and pop the short leg into place. The whole procedure is very fast; faster than a surface piercing.

Another advantage of the microdermal techniques is that they are generally no more painful than a regular surface piercing and therefore do not usually require the use of anesthetics. It is advisable to not place the microdermal in areas where it is likely to be snagged and pulled out, but the client should be advised in any case that this will always be a risk, as well as having to remove them for MRIs, etc.

From Painful Pleasures

MicroDermal Anchors can go by a variety of names. "surface anchors" "Transdermal anchors", Microdermals or "anchors"

This piece of jewelry is designed for a "single point" piercing. Which means that it is a piercing that has only one visible end or bead. Because of this it allows you to be very creative with piercing placement. Place a single gemstone in a third eye position, add an eye to a tattoo, basically anywhere on your body you can insert a microdermal anchor. No invasive procedure is required to implant a dermal anchor.

These are installed with only 1 needle and one insertion. Only go to an experienced piercer who has done this procedure before. This is not the Dermal Anchor™ made by Ben Trigg.

Our microdermals are made from 6AL4V ELI F-136 Implant Grade Titanium (Grade 23). A variety of ends such as gems, spikes and balls can be used to change things up with your new microdermal.

Healing and Aftercare

Although relatively new, a significant number of microdermals (of various designs) have been successfully inserted and healed. The aftercare advised differs from artist to artist but all include keeping the area clean, dry, and free of irritants. Opinions on healing time vary from 1 month to 24 months.

Words of Caution - From Elayne Angel (Author of the Piecing Bible)

Migration, rejection, scarring, and catching accidents, including traumatic removal, are risks, but the extent of scarring is most likely to be limited because of the limited size of the piercing. Many piercers and their clients have accepted the fact that surface anchors are not a permanent body adornment. A large percent of anchors are subject to lifting, tilting, and sometimes migration. Migration can be a direct result of a lifting or tilting anchor that is unattended. Snagging or other types of trauma can turn a well-healed anchor into a migrating mess very quickly. If you determine that an anchor is on its way out, it is best to consider removal rather than risk having the jewelry migrate out on its own. Migration of the jewelry and any tearing may result in a more raised and/or darker scar. Most piercers caution their clients that the client should not consider the dermal anchor as a permanent piercing, but rather, a temporary piercing that can last from a few days to several years.

Surface anchors require ongoing care, even after the healing period is over. Like any other piercing, it is normal for them to experience some secretions. If these are allowed to build up under the base of the gem, disc, or other ornament, there is a tendency for problems to result. This means that if you receive this type of piercing, you will need to continue to care for it for the life of the piercing. Irrigating and flushing with water to reduce build up on the jewelry inside the channel and remove matter underneath the threaded end are strongly advised.

Want more information? Click here for professional and client forum on microdermals.




At Addicted 2 Tattoos, we are now offering Microdermal Anchors as a piercing choice.

We are also stocking replacement
heads in various styles.
All replacement heads fit 1.2 mm (14 gauge)
jewelry and is either steel or titanium.

We currently have 5 mm round, faceted in:
White, Pink, Blue, Lt. Purple and
in Black or Silver Stars.

One Dermal insertion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $60
Second Dermal insertion - Same sitting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $50
Each additional Dermal insertion - same sitting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $50
Replace lost dermal tops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $30
Purchase dermal top . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10+
Removal of Dermal anchor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $40

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