Choosing a piercer wisely and carefully is the most important thing you can do in order to assure a safe piercing experience. Before undergoing any body modification procedure, review the following points making sure that the studio you visit complies with each to your utmost satisfaction. As the body piercing industry is virtually unregulated, it is up to the client to research and be confident in the studio they choose to go to.
1 – View the autoclave and spore tests.
If a shop does not have or is unwilling to show you the autoclave they use to sterilize tool and equipment – run away! An auto/chemiclave is the only way tools and equipment can be properly sterilized and is therefore a vital piece of equipment to any body piercing studio, hospital, dentist, etc. A spore test is a weekly test done on an autoclave to insure it is functioning 100%. Make sure that you view spore test results and check to make sure spore tests are being done regularly.
2 – Does the shop reuse needles?
Any professional shop will only use single-use hypodermic needles. Needles should be disposed of in bio-hazard containers after use.
3 – Does the studio seem clean?
Is the studio brightly lit? How does it smell? Is there dust anywhere? Are the floors tiled or carpeted? Are they regularly mopped? How often is the chair, sink, counter, etc. in the piercing room wiped down and disinfected?
4 – Ask around.
Talk to your friends/family where they got pierced and look at their piercings. What sort of experience did they have?
5 – Use your instincts.
If you go into a shop and your gut tells you to move on, do it. It is important that you feel confident in the studio’s policies and procedures. So listen to your friends and evaluate their experiences, but also listen to yourself.
6 – Does the shop use a piercing gun?
Professional piercers do not use or advocate the use of piercing guns as they are impossible to sterilize, cause excess tissue damage and the jewelry that often accompanies their use is inappropriate for piercing.
7 – Ask questions of the staff and the piercer.
Does the staff appear knowledgeable? Do they refer you to the owner or piercer of the shop when necessary? Are they friendly and approachable? Is the piercer able to answer all your questions regarding sterility, cross contamination, the piercing process, infection control, aftercare, etc.? Does the piercer make you feel comfortable and at ease?
8 – What are the piercer’s qualifications?
There are currently no regulations within the body piercing industry that govern what qualifications a body piercer must have. Thus anyone can potentially open up shop under the guise of “professional body piercer.” Although there are countless courses that one can take, they do not conform to any guidelines that assure their credibility. Many of these courses offered are far too short, do not include any sort of practical training, and are run by teachers who are not professional piercers.
9 – A professional piercer must have extensive knowledge in the following areas:
Cross-contamination, sterility, anatomy, infection control, aftercare, jewelry quality, metal properties, etc. Ensure your piercer has completed at least a six month apprenticeship (including practical and theoretical work) under a professional piercer.
10 – Check the studio’s jewelry selection.
A good studio will have a wide selection of jewelry in order to accommodate a wide variety of piercings. Does the studio customize or make any of its jewelry? What jewelry is used in the initial piercing? Inquire about jewelry sizes (diameter and gauge), and type of metal (316L stainless steel, titanium, Teflon, etc.). Is the jewelry disinfected before being sold?
11 – Aftercare.
Is both verbal and written aftercare provided for each client? Does the studio offer a check-up after the initial piercing? Whom do you contact if you have questions regarding your piercing?
12 – License to operate.
Ask to see a business license and current health board certification.
13 – Age requirements.
Does the studio implement strict age requirements? Are these requirements always instituted? What type of ID does the studio require as proof of age?
14 – Set-up.
Ask to watch the room being set-up before a piercing. Check that the piercer washes his/her hands, wears gloves and changes them between each step, make sure that all equipment used is individually sealed in sterilized packages.