Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why piercing guns are dangerous

Piercing guns are a common tool used in mall shops, mall kiosks, beauty salons and by other non-professional piercers. Unfortunately, the piercing gun or stud gun is an inferior piece of equipment that can cause unnecessary damage and increase a piercees risk of complications.


All equipment used in any piercing must be properly sterilized between uses to prevent the spread of blood borne diseases and reduce the chance of infection. To be properly sterilized, equipment must be run through an autoclave. Piercing guns cannot be autoclaved. When a piercing is performed with a gun, tissue and blood become airborne and will come into contact with anything near it, including the gun, the piercer and the person being pierced. Wiping a piercing gun with antiseptic wipes or alcohol swabs between uses is not sufficient, as it will not kill all blood borne pathogens. This means that both the piercer and person being pierced are exposed to the tissue and blood of every other person that has been pierced with that equipment. In addition, the new piercing has come into contact with the dirty gun and all of the bacteria on it. This greatly increases the risk of infection. This risk of infection is of even more concern when applied to cartilage piercings. Infections in cartilage can become trapped between the layers of cartilage and cause deformation of the ear, sometimes requiring surgery.

clean adj. - Free from dirt, stain, or impurities; unsoiled.
ster·ile  adj.  - Completely free from live bacteria or other microorganisms.

Stud vs. Needle
A properly done piercing is performed using a hollow needle that is extremely sharp. It has a beveled edge that creates a very neat, clean slice in the tissue. This leaves the area with very little damage or trauma, allowing for the easiest healing and minimal complications as well as less pain for a shorter period of time.

A piercing gun uses a dull stud that is forced through the ear through sheer force. Look closely at the end of a piercing stud and it is obvious just how dull it is. Remember that you can sleep on these studs without cutting your neck. Because the stud is dull, it rips through the tissue, causing major tearing, trauma and compaction in the tissue. This will lead to a longer healing time and increased risk of building up excessive scar tissue in and around the piercing. It also causes more irritation and swelling, leading to more pain for an extended period of time.

Excessive scar tissue can cause problems for those that intend to, or decide to stretch their piercings to larger gauges. Some find that it hinders stretching, or even makes it impossible. It will often cause the stretching process to be much slower and involved than normal to allow the scar tissue time to soften and the stretch to heal properly.

The only appropriate materials for use in a fresh piercing are implant grade metals, plastics, glass: Surgical Stainless 316LVM, Titanium, Niobium, PTFE, Bioflex and Pyrex. The nickel content in gold, silver and low grade steel can cause serious reactions and irritation in many people. The porosity of other materials allows the harboring of dirt and bacteria, causing serious irritation and infection. Piercing studs are generally made of a low-grade metal and are often plated. Most common are gold and silver studs.

It is necessary for the jewelry in a new piercing to allow room for swelling and proper access to the piercing for cleaning and to allow the piercing to drain.

Every aspect of the piercing stud makes in inappropriate for use in a new piercing. They are much too short to allow the tissue to swell comfortably. Swelling can be exacerbated
by the restriction of the stud, leading to further damage and irritation of the piercing. The locking butterfly backs cover the back of the piercing and pull the jewelry tight against the front of the piercing. This will not allow a piercing to drain properly as well as building up lymph and dirt and holding it against the healing piercing. Butterfly backs are extremely difficult to clean properly as the loops are very small and cannot be accessed easily.

Proper Placement and Similar Concerns on Body Parts Other Than Ears
When the piercing gun is used, it visually blocks the person operating it from seeing exactly where the stud is being placed. This, along with minimal training on the part of the person using the gun and the kickback of the gun often leaves poorly placed piercings. This also means that matched piercings are often not symmetrical. Many people are left with a no-win situation. Take out the piercing and have it done re-done to correct the placement or live with an improperly placed piercing. This may not be an immediate concern for some, but those wanting to stretch to larger gauges later may find that any asymmetry becomes more pronounced at the larger gauges.

In less common cases, "piercers" will use the gun to perform other piercings, such as in the navel, nose and even tongue. The gun was designed for use on the ears and cannot accommodate other body parts. The design does not allow a larger amount of tissue to be placed in it and the short jewelry is even more dangerous on the thicker piercings.

The width of a gun stud cartridge makes in impossible for it to be fully inserted into the nostril. This leaves the piercing too far forward on the nostril. While being aesthetically unappealing, it also makes it difficult or impossible to wear a ring or nose screw comfortably. A screw will tend to hang out of the nose because it cannot be turned around properly and a ring will stick out from the nostril.

Trained Piercers vs. Minimally Trained Gun Operators
A professional piercer must apprentice under a trained profession. This training includes classes in blood borne pathogens and cross contamination, as well as first aid. This prepares a piercer to handle any situation that may arise during a piercing procedure as well being able to accurately assess a person and any possible complications. They also understand all possible complications and can assist a client with the correct solution to a problem.

The majority of piercings performed with a piercing gun happen in mall shops and/or kiosks, and beauty salons. The people using these guns receive minimal training on the use of the equipment and no training whatsoever on human anatomy, the proper care for a new piercing or the risks and complications involved with piercings or how to treat them. Generally, training consists of two weeks of instruction on use of the gun and possibly practice on a teddy bear or foam ear. The trainee is then loosed on the general public with minimal knowledge and no experience whatsoever.

Piercing guns can jam while being used, leaving the piercee with a half embedded stud and most likely a piercing gun stuck to it. This can be very painful for the piercee and someone that is not properly prepared to deal with this situation can cause unnecessary pain and extended damage to the piercing.

The lack of proper training leads back to the inability of a piercing gun operator to prevent the spread of blood borne diseases, as they are not aware of the risks or the precautions that need to be taken. They also open themselves to exposure, as most do not wear gloves.

Should any serious complications arise, a piercing gun operator will not be able to help you. With little experience in body piercings, they are unable to identify or offer guidance on problems that may arise.

A piercing or tattoo shop is a safe, clean environment with trained staff. To ensure the safety and comfort of a client, piercings are performed in a room specifically set up for piercing. This means that all of the tools and equipment are within easy reach, as well as any medical equipment that may be needed in case of an unforeseen problem. The area is kept extremely clean, there is a Sharps Container for used needles to be disposed of in and equipment is cleaned in a separate area. All of these things greatly reduce the risk of contamination from the piercer or a previous client.

Mall kiosks and stores are not closed off from the public. In fact, if it is a store, they typically keep the piercing booth right at the front. Equipment is not kept in a sanitary manner nor is the area in which a person is pierced. The open-air environment of a mall means that you are exposed to many more germs and bacteria than the controlled environment of a piercing studio. Should any problems arise, such as unexpected bleeding, you will most likely get an unsanitary paper towel to hold to your ear. Used gun cartridges are tossed in a trash basket, further increasing the chances of spreading disease.

For a safe piercing experience, please choose a professional piercer that works in a proper piercing or tattoo shop and uses the correct equipment and jewelry. Your piercings will thank you!

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