Do surface piercings & anchors work?

The quick answer is short term, sure. Long-term (1+ years), maybe not. A lot of factors go into how long these piercings will last.

Those factors include:

  1. Placement. Where these piercings are placed has a huge impact on how long they last. Longer lasting placements are areas that are more protected and don’t get much movement, such as cleavage and certain facial placements. Areas that get rubbed by clothing or move a lot, like the back near your pants line or near the collar bones, tend to have a much shorter life span and more scar tissue. Areas like hands, wrists, and feet are so problematic that we just won’t do them.

  2. Surface bar vs. anchor. Wherever it’s possible to use a surface bar, it tends to produce a longer lasting, less problematic piercing. Unfortunately when they do reject, the scarring can be pretty dramatic if early intervention and removal of the jewelry doesn’t happen.

  3. While surface anchors can be placed pretty much anywhere, they are much more delicate and prone to rapid rejection. Sometimes all it takes is getting the anchor snagged or hurt once to make your body push it out. For this reason, it’s critical to think about lifestyle, clothing, etc. when deciding where to place these. The scarring can be less than with a surface bar, as the jewelry is much smaller. We call these "long term temporary" because they may last for 6 months to several years, but will eventually reject or become problematic.
  4. Aftercare. Due to the delicate nature of these piercings, aftercare is critical. Any irritation can start the process of rejection, either with chemicals or rubbing/catching/snagging.

  5. Cleanliness of the installation. Performing these piercings under the most sterile conditions possible is very important. We use the same aseptic technique that we do for all piercings. The initial risk is no more than for any other piercing, but any break in technique or contamination during the piercing could result in irritation and/or infection (as with other piercings) and start the rejection process.

  6. Quality of the jewelry. Both the material standards and the finish of these pieces is critical, again to minimize any irritation and reduce the risk of rejection over the long term. We use jewerly that meets ASTM specification for human implant, specifically ASTM F136, that’s polished mirror smooth. It’s important to remember that once these bars or anchors are in place, they really can’t be changed to better pieces like you can do with other piercings.

We will install surface piercings or dermal anchors for you if 

  1. you have a history with us, and

  2. you understand that they might not, or even probably won't, work out over the long term.


The bottom line is that this is definitely not a piercing to skimp on in terms of both the piercing procedure and the quality of the jewelry installed. It’s hard enough to make them successful even with the best jewelry and initial piercing.