Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dermal Disaster: My Dermals and Their Eventual Rejection

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A few months ago I decided to get two microdermal piercings on my chest. Ever since I'd gotten my tattoos redone, I'd thought a little sparkle would be fun. Even though the piercings were quite painful, I loved them from the start. There was little to none swelling and the healing time was very short. Perfect right?

Wrong.

Everything I've read says the rejection rate for dermals is much lower than that of surface piercings. What I didn't know though was that dermals take a lot of babying. A LOT. I've had a surface piercing on the back of my neck for somewhere around eight years (maybe 9?). Even though the piercing sometimes gets irritated and will release a clear fluid, I've never had any problem with rejection or infection. I've always healed incredibly well and besides the obscene amount of coffee and soda I drink, I have a pretty good diet. For whatever reason though, I just couldn't keep my dermals happy.

Part of the reason is the location. It may not seem like it, but your chest is an incredibly active part of your body. Everything from seat-belts to purse straps rub against it. I also sleep on my side/stomach. This means either my piercings were smashed against the sheet or the skin was being pushed if I was on my side. Shirts and towels would snag on them and sometimes I would simply forget they were there and catch my nails on them (ouch!). Ultimately though, it was another person that injured them to the point of rejection (double ouch!). Other people would often bump them and someone hit it so hard I thought it had ripped completely out (hence my problem).

As I noticed the area around my piercing got more and more irritated, I started a regimen of hot compresses and sea salt soaks. Nothing seemed to work though. In fact, the hot compress started to make it worse. A bubble started to form on the side of my dermal and nothing would make it go away. I eventually noticed that the metal foot itself was being pushed out and that's what was causing the bubble (you can see it in the middle of the "bubble"). It turns out that once a dermal gets lodged out of it's pocket, the likelihood of rejection is much more likely.

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So I returned to Zen tattoo and had the guy who did the piercing look at it. He confirmed that the piercing was indeed rejecting and it needed to be removed. Unfortunately some scar tissue had already started to form under the piercing, but hopefully I can minimize the scarring by paying careful attention. Getting the dermals removed wasn't nearly as painful as getting them put in, though the one rejecting was more painful. (It's important to note that there wasn't any infection at all. None. This is probably because of the soaks and hot compresses. If your piercing is infected it is going to be more painful.)

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Getting the dermal that was rejecting removed was a no brainer. Deciding what to do with the other dermal took more consideration though. Should I keep it and get the other side pierced again after it heals? Or should I remove it and chalk this whole experience up as a hundred and fifty dollar experiment? I LOVED the way they looked but I ultimately couldn't deal with the upkeep or the pain an occasional (or not so occasional) snag would cause. My left dermal was only a little red and my piercer wanted me to start giving it sea salt soaks and compresses as well. And at the end of the day, I'm just not that gal. Simply put, I don't have that many fucks to give.

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So is my experience the be-all-end-all of dermal piercing experiences? Of course not. There are different piercing techniques and different types of anchors. All of this makes a difference. But hopefully my experience will highlight, more than anything, the importance of placement and how much upkeep is really involved. I feel both disappointed and a little relieved now that they're gone. And that relief should be deeply considered I think.

Now I think I deserve another tattoo!

79 comments:

  1. I just got out of the shower and the freedom to towel off was amazing! Even though I feel like I lost some of my cool points, I'm pretty sure I made the right decision.

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    1. I know this is almost a year old, but this comment resonates with me so much lol. I've had my anchor for going on four years, but the last 6 months or so have been hell. My son nurses and kept picking at it until it became super irritated. While I've never been able to see the foot as clearly as in your pictures, I have the same lump and can feel the foot if I touch it. I'm going tonight to have it removed, I just can't keep doing this any more. I'm reading to have that freedom to towel off! I'm so sick of having to watch every single little thing I do to be sure that I don't hurt myself or rip this damn thing out. And I can finally nurse my son without flinching every time his hand gets near my anchor worrying he is going to mess with it!

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    2. I can't believe you were able to keep your dermals for so long!!!! My hat is off to you. I couldn't imagine trying to baby them and an actual baby haha. They love to grab everything. I'm sure there have been major ouches!

      You know, I don't really miss them at all. Yeah they looked cool but it was just way too much work. And I only lasted like six months. I don't know how people do it.

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    3. If you still have a little bubble or scar tissue, a warm wet chamomile tea bag will do wonders! I got the same bubble type thing when I got my nose pierced and felt like a witch but after a month of a chamomile tea bag compress once a day it was totally gone with no discoloration of my skin or anything!

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    4. Can you tell me exactly what you were doing? I have a bump on my ear from an industrial piercing that I had to take out after over a year & I absolutely cannot figure out how to make it go away.

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    5. Tea tree oil gets rid of this. It takes a few weeks just ignore the smell xD

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  2. I still think you're pretty cool. I'm sorry that happened to you though!!

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  3. Sounds like a recent bad experience with a tattoo I got on the inside of my finger...supposed to say smile, but after a week the m went away and 2 months later, the dot of the i is still tender.

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    1. Stories like this are the reason I'll probably never get a tattoo on my fingers! Hopefully you can get it touched up though and it'll still look nice.

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    2. I love how I said I'd probably never get a tattoo on my fingers and then I went and got one like a month later haha

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  4. Too bad the dermals didn't work out. You've still got those awesome tattoos though! I doubt I'd have the patience to deal with dermals (not that I've ever wanted one for myself). I've had enough issues with all my ear piercings to keep me from piercing anywhere else (H2Ocean spray and learning to take out my jewelry when I henna my hair is the only thing that's made them manageable). It's all tattoos for me!

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  5. I had 3 dermals down the back of my neck. I removed one cuz it was being rejected (bottom one) now my top one is coming out :( i really dont want to get rid of them! but its become such a pain and hassle to keep it in. Although i try clean it and put a bandaid over it for a while, it still eventually comes out again.

    I was thinking of getting a tattoo there instead. but then i would need to remove the 3rd dermal too :[

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    1. On the plus side tattoos are forever!

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  6. I have two dermals. One under my eye which I have absolutely no problems with and one in the middle of my chest.

    I work stocking shelves and I would constantly hit it with boxes. Sometimes as you stated my seat belt would get caught on it. For the first week I had done exactly what my piercer said (put an extra strength healing band-aid over it) and thought I was good to go. After I started this job is when my problems started. It kept getting irritated and dry skin around it. Today after I showered, I was putting peroxide on it again because I thought it was infected and pop... out came most of the dermal. It is literally hanging there with almost all of the metal foot out.

    I'm disappointed because I had the piercing for months before the problems started. I'm changing jobs and won't be doing anything where I will be hitting it constantly so I think I will try again since I have had great success with the dermal under my eye.

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    1. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply, but if you do decide to get it re-pierced I'd love to hear how it goes! I imagine you couldn't get it in the exact same place.

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    2. i thought you're not supposed to put peroxide or alcohol on it...

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    3. Actually, peroxide was one thing my piercer found that would remove dermals with the least amount of scarring, so unless you want your dermal to come out of your skin, no peroxide. It kills the skin cells that holds it in place.

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    4. That's good to know! I just used salt water and heat.

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  7. You're really pretty! Had to say that lol
    But yeah that's happening to me right now, yesterday it was just a bit inflamed and today it's half hanging out :(
    Sad day, idk what happened :/ oh well, life lol

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    1. I've been a bad blogger, but thank you!!! And I know how much it sucks but you're right, life. haha Hopefully by now you're all healed up on way or another.

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  8. About 2 months ago, i got a dermal anchor on my hip. I didn't have any problems for a month after i got it done, but then it got snagged once, and one night it sunk in under my skin till i could only see the top of the jewel, and i had to massage the head of the jewel out. The next day it was kinda sore when i pressed on it, and it got better, but now it seems to be rejecting :-( It's pushing up on the one side and i can see the foot through my skin. So sad because i'm from south africa and it's really expensive to get it done here. But on the flip side, im looking forward not to worry about getting it caught or snagged, hehe :)

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    1. There's always a bright side! They're really cool but require way too much work.

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  9. So what do u do when it's rejecting and hanging out? Can u pull it out yourself???

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    1. I wouldn't recommend it! Some people's skin completely pushes the jewelry out but there's also a good chance that some of your skin has begun to attach itself to the foot of the anchor. Go to your piercer (or any professional). They'll be able to give you advice and remove the piercings if they can't be saved. You will most likely have to pay for removal but it's worth it and will help minimize the scarring. Good luck!

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  10. So how exactly is the dermal supposed to be removed properly??? Dont really have extra cash to get it reremoved so im wondering? ... and I'm the crazy type to just hate going to the doctors & removing my own stitches instead of waiting 3 hours at a clinic lol

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    1. I honestly don't know. Depending on your pain threshold you can always cut it out. Depends on how long you've had it. I think it's only $20 to remove it though so my advice would be to bite the bullet and go to a shop.

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  11. I own a tattoo shop... We will NOT do dermal implants. Essentially its a money grab and more pain then its worth, leaving you infected and/or scarred. Piercings are all the way through, essentially a clean cut, which allows a small amount of scar tissue to form. This is what prevents it from growing back together when you remove them in time. Dermal's are more like a sliver. It is no longer a clean cut, it is a foreign object wedged in your skin. Much like a sliver, the sliver may not reject right away, but it will. The skin is meant to defend itself and will try to push the object out of your body. The skin is an organ that protects the rest of your insides, it knows what its doing. In a few years they might find a way to do a deeper implant which will ultimately a) prevent it from ripping out of your skin. and b) allow the tissue to form a small amount of scar tissue around the incision to properly heal. It is said that only 2% of these implants reject. However they are not reporting the people who have it reject years later. It is my professional opinion that these are not YET a wise idea. However, could vastly improve in the future.

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    1. I've always been skeptical about any of the numbers cause I'm not sure there's a consistent way to measure something like that. Plus, everything says surface piercings are near impossible to keep after so long and yet I've had one for almost ten years now.

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    1. I cannot stress this enough: I am not a professional. This is only what happened to me. A piercer will be able to give you a better idea of what your chances are of retaining the piercing and whether or not it is infected. The lack of pus means it could be rejecting and not infected but there's no way to know for sure.

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  13. Do you think you could post a picture of what your scars (if you have any) look like? I'm considering dermals but have no tattoos or anything to cover them if the piercing goes south, and I'd like to see what they look like after.

    Please and thank you.
    -Gina

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    1. I tried to take a pic with my phone, but you couldn't see the scars at all in the photo. I'll try to take a pic with DSLR in the next day or two, but my scars look kinda like small white bumps. Kinda like a flesh colored mole. it's been over a year though and at first they looked more like big pimples. Red and perfectly round and they protruded more. I'll try to get a pic though.

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  14. I guess that's good news that you can't see them in a picture, don't trouble yourself TOO much though, thank you :)

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    1. haha yes it is good! But people have asked about them so it's not like they're invisible. On my chest they don't stand out but I wouldn't want it on my face.

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  15. oh no they will be on my hips. Thanks again

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  16. I've had my implant for over 8months now. Ihave never had any problems until now. Its hard and sore. I don't think its infected and its not coming out. What do you think the problem is and how can I ease the pain and swelling? I know your not a doctor just wanted a little insight on it. Thanks in advance :)

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    1. Sea salt soaks and hot compresses! It really helps. I would just pour a little into a shot glass and basically tip the whole thing over my piercings. Hope it helps!

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  17. Ive had my dermals for over three years (Since 2010). I have three per wrist. There have been several times that these things wanted to start rejecting but I would apply pressure heat and sea salt in warm water when they did. I would also tightly band-aid them down to send a message to my body "were all gonna get along now, this is where the dermal belongs." It works, I know people say once they start rejecting there is no turning back but in my case, enduring a little pain (pushing them into place and forcing fluid out) and applying salt and warm compress got my dermals acting right again. Im in the middle of my worst bout yet, the top one on my right wrists is behaving like it never has before, guess Ill see how this turns out.

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    1. I hope it worked out! And the pressure is good to know for people who may be able to save their piercings.

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    2. I just got mine done on my chest 2 days ago and I purchased the h2ocean spray that they suggested and was told to spray the piercing 3-6 times a day.Idk if it's just me freaking out but I noticed that one side of the dermal is slightly more set in my skin than the other side, do you have any suggestions on how I can get the other side to be more in? Should I push it in with a bandage and apply pressure or just wait for it to heal since Its still fresh? Also, What else can I do so I can make sure it won't get infected and start rejecting? Sorry for the 21 questions lol I just really like how it looks and want to make sure I take care of it right.

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  18. I have two, (one om each side of my collar bone) and the left one just started rejecting, ive had them for like six months. Sadly i paid $100 for the pair, but im not gonma go through the pain to get the left one re-done. And its almost all the way out already, its hanging on by a small piece of skin. So im not gonna go pay $20 to have it removed. Luckily it seems that one side didnt set and it just came out the same way so i dont think it will scar too bad. :)

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  19. Has anyone tried repiercing after a rejection? I have two dermals and one of them rejected after 2 years. I really love them, but without having the one redone, the other one looks silly :( I don't want to go to the trouble if there is a higher rate of rejection once it has happened once.

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    1. I considered this myself but was too scared to try. It's just not worth the effort of having them in my opinion, but if you decide to try again then I'd love to know how it works out!

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  20. My 18th birthday (2008) was a dream, as I finally got to get my nape pierced with a surface barbell. I was so in love with how it looked that I quickly decided to get surface barbells on my chest- one directly below each clavicle. I quickly learned that my body did not like these piercings, and went through a 6 month period of redness, oozing, rejection, and eventually removal. I was shocked as my nape piercing healed beautifully, and I still have it to this day (with some very slight migration on one side). I convinced myself that it must have been a fluke and waited until the areas healed, and once again got surface barbells below my clavicles, but slightly below the formed scar tissue from the old ones. Again, I went through the same 6 months of my body rejecting them and had them taken out. Those areas healed, and I discovered dermals. Positive that this was the solution to my wildly sought after chest placement, I had 4 dermals placed under each clavicle (totaling 8). These rejected within two months, and then I had them redone a second time- as I'm sure you've already deducted, I'm an incredibly dedicated person towards any goal haha . These dermals did not necessarily reject, but they stayed irritated for months and never looked appealing due to the red ring of death that surrounded each one. I then got my dream job working for a publication company that came with very conservative executives, and a policy that said no piercings or tattoos could be visible. Alas, my dermals were removed for good.

    Fast forward to the beginning of November 2013- I had just called off my wedding and was desperate for some sort of liberating change to fulfill me. There was no way in hell I was going to cut my hair (girls do that after a breakup, right? ), and so I spent days thinking, when I realized my company no longer had a policy against visible tattoos or piercings! I searched for one of the most highly recommended piercers in Colorado, and when I found her, I drove to have a consultation with her that night. I fell in love with her right away, as her 14 years of experience was proving invaluable as she spoke. I detailed the never ending troubles I had with the different types of piercings I had gotten done before, as well as the type of jewelry that had been used. She explained to me that two big mistakes were made in my failed attempts: First, I was being pierced above my "movement line" on my chest, which is a slight crease that exists because of the way your skin moves in that area. Second, the anchors being used both times were far from ideal. My anchors had one large hole on the foot for tissue to grow through and hold on to, where an ideal anchor will have several small holes on the foot for the tissue to have multiple anchors points opposed to just one unstable one. I was convinced she could do this right for me and took the plunge right then and there, but this time, only got 2 dermals placed. Each dermal is aligned with each clavicle, but just lower on my chest in order to be below my movement line. They were red and just a tad tender for two days, but have healed beautifully since. I never experienced oozing, prolonged redness, or issues with snagging them on things. One of them has a slight red ring around it right now, but that is because I had new tops put on yesterday now that they are healed.

    I am in complete heaven with my dermals! I'm convinced that my success is due to proper placement and extremely high quality jewelry. If anyone wants pictures let me know and I'd be glad to provide some! I felt compelled to detail my success because I know how frustrating and sad it is to experience dermal rejection, and I'm just so elated that I was able to figure out how to obtain mine, even though it took 5 years.

    Good luck to all you dermal enthusiasts out there!

    Mary

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    1. First of all, you're a champ! haha Second, thank you so much for sharing your experiences!!!!

      I think what you said will help a lot of people and has me wondering about my "movement line." Part of my problem is I wanted them in a very specific place due to my tattoo. I'm gonna have to look into it some more. Part of me thinks it's not worth the hassle and the other part is hoping that as time goes on techniques and jewelry will make it easier.

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    2. I absolutely agree! I want several more but am going to wait, as I do not want to jinx the ones that I already have (haha) and my piercer mentioned that eventually, they will be trained to pierce/use anchors that have much longer stems so that the foot of the jewelry can anchor deep below your skins surface and have less chance of rejection due to snagging or accidentally dispelling it out of placement. It was also very interesting to learn what a huge impact the number of anchor points a foot has when placing a dermal. It even feels different and much more stable under my skin. I'm glad my unwavering persistence had a positive outcome this time! I'll be in touch with my piercer as new techniques and jewelry is introduced and will definitely post about it here when that time comes. Advice for you or anyone wanting dermals on the chest- half inch below your movement line or in your cleavage (however not too low, where it will often be squished and moved by your breasts) as these two areas are proving to reject less!

      Also, not sure if this helps, but my piercer also told me to stay away from H2Ocean, especially with dermals.

      Love love love your blog!

      Mary

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    3. Hi Mary:
      What is the name of your piercer/studio in Colorado? I have had problems with rejection and want to go to an experienced piercer for my future dermals.

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    4. Hi Mary:
      What is the name of your piercer/studio in Colorado? I have had problems with rejection and want to go to an experienced piercer for my future dermals.

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  21. Hi alana I have a question about the one on your neck. Is it a surface bar or a dermal?

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    1. Surface bar! I've had it for probably ten years now.

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  22. I have 10 dermals, got my first one when i was 16 so 3 years ago and have not had any problems with any of them, no discomfort or nothing. I have 6 in the shape of a cross on my chest 1 on each of my ankles and 1 under my right eye.

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    1. That's great, but not the point of this post. Should everyone be so lucky though!

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  23. I'm having this issue right now. I have mine further down in cleavage area. Hurt so freaking bad to get done. The picture where yours is starting to poke out is what mine looks like. I need to go to a piercer this weekend to have it taken out :( Super bummed. Didn't even last a year. Ive been really afraid to have it looked at because of how much pain it was to go in. I don't want to go through that again.

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    1. Aw that sucks :( Hope it went well!!! It didn't hurt as much getting them removed as getting them pierced.

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  24. Hi. Well ive had my dermal for almost 10 months now..ive had it done in the middle of my chest just above my cleavage..and I must say..what a pain they are. My first one was done abit further down..my breasts squashed it..my body rejected it but then my skin started to grow over it..I went to have it removed and the guy had to dig in my chest to find it..it was horrendous and so painful..he said hes never experienced anything before with a chest dermal. Anyway I got another done..he told me no salt bathing..try my best to keep it water free as they aren't air tight so if I got water etc in it would go red and puss. I took his advice and altho it was hard to not allow water..body sprays..creams to go near it. After about 5 months of it going through stages of settling then being tender again It has now fully settled..I love it..I bath "normal" now..I can lay on my front..side...I actually forget it is there. Im glad I percerviered with it..but I must say..I wont get another because it was hard work to look after! X

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  25. I've had 3 dermals. One on my nape, side of my eye and my chest. The nape one for almost 2 years. The other two lasted a little more than a year. In the past few weeks, all of them fell out. I'm so disappointed. Not sure what happened. I kept getting hypertrophic bumps on the nape one especially. I tried heat, salt water soaks, putting paper tape, etc. and nothing helped. I put the eye and chest one back in after they fell out. The first time I pulled the eye one out and put it back in, it healed back up. Not this time. Just kind of strange that they all decided to come out around the same time. Have you used anything to minimize scarring? My eye one fell out a few weeks ago and there is still a indention scar there. My neck one probably about 2 weeks ago and is still red and my chest one which recently fell out already has a scab on it. Not sure why my neck one still looks like a red blood dot, but my doctor told me yesterday that it's not infected or anything. Any suggestion on scar treatments would be greatly appreciated :)

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    1. I don't have any advice! I'm pretty lazy so I didn't do anything haha. I do sometimes massage the scars cause I heard that helps but it could just be a comforting thought. Best of luck though!

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  27. I see i commented on your blog in November 2013. Its been 5 months since i thought my dermal is gonna reject, but i sitll have it lol;) infact, i got another one above my first one with a tattoo beside them. I totally love em'! Dermals are so painless in comparison with tattoos.
    I want more ;-)

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  28. About 2 years ago, I got my first dermal under my eye. I had went to a girl who used a tool that almost like punched a hole in my skin (way to big for the dermal). It seemed good for a while so I went back to her to get 2 more dermals under my collar bone, one on each side. I had took awesome care of these and sooner or later they ALL started to reject right after another. I was really upset after spending $200 to get them done and I missed them.I went back to a different piercer who seemed more experienced with the process and that I've had friends get dermals from before which were still strong after 4 years. He actually dug around and put the dermal in himself with a tiny little tool much different from the first girl I had went to. I had got all of them re-pierced and BOOM all rejecting again. From this experience I have learned that it is just my body that doesn't like the foreign little objects. Very depressing, but after this last one comes out of my face, no more dermals for me. One more thing, I have found that letting the dermal push out itself leaves way less noticeable scars than having it get cut out plus costing more money to do so. Just keep it clean and let it come out itself..

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  29. do u think face dermals, like one next to my eye in the area covered by but not touched by my glasses, would b more manageable? i've been considering one but don't have time for a whole lot of upkeep. thank u =]

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    1. I've heard face dermas are better because they aren't bumped as much, but if you aren't into upkeep than I don't know if derma's are best.

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  30. I am on my 2nd dermal, and I love it. It healed so, so well ... until. . . .My cat walked on it one day. This cat is 18lbs. SO needless to say I have a bubble that is forming, which means I'll need to remove it :( This actually bums me out because I had ZERO issues with it until the cat incident :(

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  31. I'm so glad I found this! I had 2 microdermals on my left collarbone, and one rejected overnight one day (like completely dropped out, no bleeding and the scar is very faint, luckilly!) the other one though, is doing some serious suffering, and I can tell it wants to reject (I just want it to at this point. It's getting annoying..) But I was really nervous that the foot was going to lift right through the skin and tear it or something, because the foot is so pushed up that I can see faintly where the foot is under it! I'm weirdly relieved to see your foot was close to the surface as well! How did they remove it? I hear sometimes they massage it out.

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  32. I had someone rip my sternum dermal out during sex. i guess he thought it was a sex toy and kept rubbing his chest against it. REJECTION. and he got dumped.

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  33. Nothing says high class more than dermal implants. The more shiny bits of steel you can push through your skin and tattoos you can afford the higher class and better educated you must be. It's how you can tell if a girl is a real catch or not.

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    1. I totally agree. Real class is thinking you can tell the class and education of someone based on a person's appearance.

      I really hope someone still thinks I'm a catch!

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    2. A little late I know, but I have to say after reading your post you sound like a real catch yourself .....

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    3. A little late I know, but I have to say after reading your post you sound like a real catch yourself .....

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  34. I stumbled across this post because I snagged my finger nail under my dermal the other day at work and it's been irritated ever since and it hurts. I had one dermal (in relatively the same location) for two years before it grew out and I was able to remove it at home (that's how thin the skin over the anchor had become).. it scarred.. and it's an obvious one. I got two dermals on my next go-round and they've been easy peasy.. Until now, obviously. In any case, I completely agree with not realizing how active the chest region is. Mine are located just under my collar bone and it's exactly where the car seat belt hits and purse straps and necklaces..

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