What Is a Dermal Piercing Removal?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on June 23, 2021

Dermal piercings, also known as single-point piercings, anchor jewelry underneath a layer of skin.

Unlike other types of body piercings (such as earrings or navel piercings), dermal piercings don't have an exit point. Instead, the piercer inserts an anchor below the skin, which holds the visible part of the jewelry in place.

A dermal piercing or single-point anchor is a popular body-jewelry technique among teens and young adults. Studies say that 25% to 35% of this age group has a body piercing, and 13% to 18% of them remove it at some point.

Understanding Dermal Piercings

A single-point piercing can go on any part of the body that has thick, flat skin. It should be an area that can hold the anchor in place. The most popular zones for dermal piercings are:

  • Nape of the neck
  • Lower back dimples
  • Abdominal area and chest
  • Cheekbones and collarbones

Healing time. The healing time is different from person to person. The average healing process for a dermal piercing lasts from 1 to 3 months. Swelling and crusting are normal during the first few days. You should always follow the piercer's instructions to avoid complications. Watch the area for:

  • Severe pain or swelling
  • Discharge that's not clear
  • Foul odor
  • Skin redness or rash

Dangers and complications. There are risks with all open-wound procedures. But dermal piercings aren't more dangerous than ordinary body piercings, even when they go deeper into the skin.

Side effects range from mild to severe. Signs of a botched single-point piercing include:

  • Sharp pain
  • Skin infection
  • Irregular scarring
  • Hypergranulation
  • Tissue damage
  • Displacement
  • Premature rejection

‌It's important to make sure that your dermal piercing is not too deep into the skin. When the piercing is too deep, the anchor might start pulling skin layers together, which can create an uneven scarring pattern. If the incision is too shallow, the anchor can fall off or move around.

When Should You Have a Dermal Piercing Removed?

‌People may remove their dermal piercings for a variety of reasons. If you're thinking about it, you should always talk to a professional piercer or ask your doctor to do it for you. Never attempt to take a dermal piercing removal into your own hands.

If the area swells for more than a few days after you get it or feels hot to the touch, retire a dermal piercing as soon as possible. These symptoms might mean that you have a skin infection or an allergic reaction.

Your skin will start pushing your single-point piercing's anchor out after a few years. This process is normal, and the time it takes to happen varies from one person to another. If an old dermal piercing hurts or feels tight, consider a dermal piercing removal.‌

During the dermal piercing removal process, the professional piercer will:

  • Sanitize the affected area with an antiseptic solution.
  • Pat the area dry with sterile gauze.
  • Unscrew the visible part of the jewelry piece.
  • Dislodge the anchor by massaging the skin around it.
  • Make a small incision around the anchor with a scalpel.
  • Use thumb forceps to extract the anchor.
  • Stitch up the wound or apply bandages to protect it.

‌You may take some over-the-counter medication to calm the pain after your dermal piercing removal. If the symptoms worsen or the wound won't heal, go to your doctor's office right away.

‌‌Dangers of performing a dermal piercing removal on your own. Think of dermal piercing removal as a type of microsurgery. Trying to do this procedure at home might put you at risk. The anchor could have scar tissue lodging it into the entry point. If you don't know how to remove it in a safe way, you might cause irreversible damage to your skin.‌ 

Keep Your Dermal Piercing Healthy

To avoid an urgent need for a dermal piercing removal, it's vital to care for the piercing during every step of the healing process. Your piercer will recommend that you:

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Cover the piercing with a bandage for a couple of days.
  • Avoid touching the area unless you're cleaning it or applying treatment.
  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap if you need to touch the area.
  • Pat the piercing dry with a clean gauze when necessary and never rub the area.
  • Clean your piercing using a saline solution twice a day and steer clear of soaps and harsh cleansers.
  • Wait about three months before replacing the top.

These precautions also work when treating the removal wound. If you follow them at all times, you shouldn't have additional discomfort.

Show Sources


Association of Professional Piercers: "Frequently Asked Questions." "Suggested Aftercare for Body Piercings."

Center for Young Women's Health: "Body Piercing."

Family Doctor: "Body Piercing."

Pediatrics: "Adolescent and Young Adult Tattooing, Piercing, and Scarification."

‌UpToDate: "Body Piercing in Adolescents and Young Adults."

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources: "Microdermal Implants Info."

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