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The Piercing Truth

 

By Hans Niedermair

Still scandalized by your neighbor's son with his pierced left ear? Get with the times ?body piercing has come a long way, and if your kids are going to do it (and they likely are), there are a few things you need to know?

"Alex", a businessman from Toronto in his mid-twenties, had both of his nipples pierced about five years ago. He asked not to be named for a specific reason: not everyone knows about his nipples.

In a North American society where men with pierced ears have become commonplace, people are going to greater lengths to differentiate themselves from the masses. Wander down the streets of any major city and you're bound to see folks with pierced eyebrows, navels, noses, and even necks.

Although body piercing has come a long way since the 1970s, when punk rockers bounced about with safety pins through their cheeks, the practice has not gained acceptance from all corners of society. Some still think that body piercings can pose health risks, and that they may even denote a person of lower moral standards.

A recent study, reported in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that a fifth of New York college students with body-piercings have experienced bacterial infection, excessive bleeding and tissue trauma.

Jason King, the vice president of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) and owner of 23rd St. Body Piercing in Oklahoma City, says that as long as people take proper care of their piercings, these types of problems should not arise.

"Infection is always the single biggest problem. One suggestion for all body piercings is to apply saline for 10 minutes twice a day," King says. "In terms of healing times, the more vascular the tissue, the faster the healing time is." This means that in the case of an ear lobe piercing versus an ear cartilage piercing, the lobe will heal faster because its tissues have a higher concentration of blood vessels.

Elaine Angel, the APP's medical liaison, stresses the importance of having a piercing done by a professional. The president and founder of the Rings of Desire piercing shop in New Orleans says that professionals know how to place a piercing properly and have access to the proper sterile disposable equipment and jewelry.

While King has pierced everything from eyebrows to genitals, he figures the strangest piercing he's ever done is the nape of the neck. This is an example of a "surface piercing," which means the piercing of an area of the body that has no sides. King says that one must be extra-cautious with surface piercings because they pose a higher risk of infection.

In terms of health benefits resulting from piercings, King says that none have been confirmed, but that some of his customers swear that piercings curb their cravings to smoke. In addition, Angel says that some of her customers have felt their sinuses clear up as a result of nostril and septum piercings. Angel also sees a psychological benefit to piercing, as it allows some individuals to get more in touch with their bodies.

Of course, different people have different reasons for getting pierced.

"For teens, it's a lot more peer-motivated and for aesthetics," Angel says. "They are far less likely to be doing it for introspective reasons. Adults often get piercings to mark passages in their lives."

"It used to be, 10 years ago, that the people we were piercing were much more 'fringe,'" King adds. "Of the 10 piercings I've done today, I'd say that four of the customers were over 30."

As for teenagers, King says that the days of piercing for rebellion are long gone.

"They're having it done because they like how it looks," he says. "Kids generally don't get pierced to piss off their parents anymore. Piercing has become so mainstream that even Britney Spears has her naval pierced."

In early May, pediatrician Timothy Roberts of the University of Rochester Medical Center presented research at the annual conference of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Baltimore. His research concluded that teenagers with body piercings are more likely to take part in risky behavior like sex and drugs than their unskewered counterparts.

"When doctors see a teenager who has a piercing, they should ask whether they smoke, ask about their friends, and maybe spend a little more time asking about their sexual behavior," claimed Roberts. "Seeing a pierced body part should help a doctor decide how to spend his or her time with the patient."

Angel says the study is skewed because it did not sample a fair representation of North American society. However, she concedes that she doesn't really think minors should get pierced. Rings of Desire will pierce nothing but the earlobes of clients under the age of 16, unless they have the permission of a parent or guardian who is present.

Despite this, Angel, whose father is a doctor, admits that she was fascinated with piercing from an early age. Today, she has about 40 piercings, including five in her tongue.

"I was piercing myself in 1972; we used to have piercing parties in high school," she says. "I've just always had an innate, driving urge for piercing ?I don't really know where it came from."

Getting back to "Alex", he says he had his nipples pierced "to freak people out". He's never had any infections as a result of his piercings, and he was engaged in teenage debauchery long before he got his nipple-rings.

However, one of his pierced nipples did cause him a physical problem. Three years ago, while working at one of Canada's largest banks, he was casually strolling through the office when he accidentally caught a nipple-ring on the corner of a cubicle. As a result, he nearly tore his nipple off, and bled profusely.

The moral of the story? Piercings can be perfectly safe, unless you rub cubicles the wrong way.

Source from: http://leisurefitness.fitdv.com

 

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