I've had dermals on my sternum now since early October, and let me tell you...it was NOT a fun process!
DISCOVERING DERMAL ANCHORS
I had been doing as much research as I possible could on dermal anchors before finally deciding to go ahead and get them done. I honestly hadn't seen or heard about them until I saw them on Jonna of The Real World Cancun and I thought they were beautiful! I was very interesting to see how the procedure is done, what kind of jewelry is used and how high of a rejection rate they have, I had a HORRIBLE experience with a surface bar on my nape a couple of years back that left me a pretty bad scar and have been TERRIFIED of surface piercings ever since. I found out that on average, dermal anchors have a rejection rate of about 10%, a percentage that I could live with, and saw that the way that some or most jewelry is made, your tissue grows into the anchor giving it a more permanent effect. DEFINITELY something that I wanted! So finally after a couple of months of research, I decided to look up shops in my area that performed and were experienced with dermal anchors. I remembered one of my friends raving about Johnathan at I ov thee Dragon in Racine, Wisconsin and decided to give their shop a call. YES! They did perform dermal anchors in their shop, he was very polite and nice on the phone and I decided to set up an appointment.
I walk into I ov thee Dragon on the day of my appointment (I had never been there before) and felt instantly relaxed. It is impossible to be nervous or stressed out in there! The music is relaxing, the decor is relaxing, the lights are dim in relaxing, it smells like incense and just has a very home-y feel about it, I was in love!
I wasn't particularly nervous about the piercings before heading back to Johnathan's station because I really didn't know what to expect as far as pain went. I saw a bunch of videos on youtube to get an idea of what the procedure looks like when it is being performed, and in the details or title of many of the videos I saw of people getting dermals on their sternums, it said "the most painful piercing I've ever gotten!". Great, I KNOW this isn't going to be fun!
MARKING THE AREA
Johnathan took me back to his station to start marking me and that's when the nerves started setting in. I just kept having flashbacks of the videos I saw and the words "....most painful piercing I've ever gotten...." kept floating around in my head....not exactly encouraging! Luckily I brought a friend for moral support. Johnathan was great! He was really nice, talkative, RELAXING, and really helped me get my mind off of everything! Marking the area was the part that took the longest out of the whole procedure, but I absolutely didn't mind at all, I'd much rather have him take his time and not half ass the job and give me perfectly lined-up piercings than some crooked ones, ESPECIALLY in an area that would be exposed on a daily basis.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH IN...AND OUT
My dermal anchors were done with a dermal punch, I'd never had any piercing dermally punched before so again, I had NO idea what to expect. Johnathan had me lay down for the procedure with my legs hanging over the edge of the table and my arms by my size. He had me take my bra off for the procedure to help give him a little bit more room to work in, but I still kept my shirt on. Now came the moment of truth. He had me take a deep breath in....and THAT'S when I started shitting bricks, oh my god! What is this going to feel like! He inserted the dermal punch and, the videos were right! It was absolutely the most painful piercing I've ever received, I'm not sure if it was because the location, but boy was it horribly painful! For most of the piercings I've had done, I was able to keep a straight face. It was not happening with these piercings, I couldn't help scrunching my face up in pain, I even asked if it was ok to bite down of the sleeve of my hoodie. He removed the bit of tissue separated by the dermal punch and applied pressure to the wound until it stopped bleeding. Next, I couldn't exactly see what the tool he used looked like, due to me biting down on the sleeve of my sweater most of the time, but he used a tool to make a pocket underneath the surface of my skin for the jewelry to fit into through the fresh hole in chest. This also was not a fun part. It hurt quite a bit but wasn't as bad as the dermal punch. Finally it came time to pop the jewelry in. The skin in the location my first dermal was placed was a little tighter so the jewelry didn't go in as quickly as the 2nd one. The jewelry pretty much "pops" in, you and your piercer can feel it pop. Pretty much if it doesn't pop right into place, you may need to make a new pocket under the skin, which could cause more scarring. I'm so glad it popped in and we didn't have to do that! Voila, one dermal anchor was inserted....GREAT, still one more to go! I was pretty shaken up after the 1st dermal and I'm so glad that my friend came along to encourage me to get the second one. Johnathan wasn't going to put the gemstones on until he inserted both dermal anchors....but decided to put that one on so that I could see what it looked like finished in my skin, and to give me more of an incentive to get the 2nd dermal done. I was in absolute love! I loved the way the gemstone looked on my skin and the location was perfect, it looked absolutely beautiful, there was no way I was leaving without getting both done....I just was not ready to deal with the pain of the next dermal quite yet. So I decided to take a quick breather and step outside for a quick cigarette, which helped with the nerves a lot. After having the cigarette and getting some words of encouragement from my friend, I was pumped and ready to get the second dermal anchor done and over with!
Getting the second dermal inserted wasn't as bad as the first one because I already knew what to expect (it still hurt pretty bad), and lucky for me, the second piece of jewelry popped in faster than the 1st. He screwed the other gemstone on and the procedure was complete! I took a look in the mirror...and was even more in love, and so happy for everything to be done and over with. Johnathan did an amazing job, I really don't think I could've gone to any other piercer to have the procedure done, he was so relaxing and talked me through the whole procedure and was very educated, I was impressed! I've been to shops in and out of the country, and out of all the shops and piercers that I've been to, I ov thee Dragon was my absolute favorite, and I don't think I will go to anyone else to get a piercing.
Overall the piercing was pretty painful, it wouldn't be so bad if the procedure was something that could be done and over with as quickly as a basic piercing, but it was bearable. I wore small bandaids over my dermals for the first couple of days to prevent migration and to prevent them from getting caught on things. The majority of the pain and soreness in my piercings went away after about a week. It's been about 4 months now since I got my dermal anchors, they healed nicely and didn't give me any problems at all except for if I forgot to clean them. I cleaned them using H2Ocean piercing aftercare spray followed by running warm water over the dermals in the shower, which felt especially nice. I would say that dermals are not for people with low pain tolerances. As I said they are pretty painful, but honestly, the pain was absolutely worth it. I'm really happy with my dermals and I'd have to say they are probably my favorite piercings. If I could go back in time and decide whether to go through with it all again, I definitely would. What can I say? Pain is beauty!