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The Piercing Bible, Revised and Expanded: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing

The Piercing Bible, Revised and Expanded: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing

The Piercing Bible, Revised and Expanded: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing

The Piercing Bible, Revised and Expanded: The Definitive Guide to Safe Piercing


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Everything you need to know about ear, face, and body piercings—from how to find a skilled professional piercer to best practices for safe healing and optimal results.
“As a piercer, nurse, and educator, I can say without a doubt that this is the most complete book ever written for all people in our industry.”—David A. Vidra, founder and president of Health Educators, Inc.

Piercing expert Elayne Angel has performed over 50,000 piercings since the 1980s and has pioneered many placements, including tongue piercing and the triangle, lorum, and other genital piercings. Her authoritative and groundbreaking guidebook has been the definitive resource on body piercing since its publication in 2009.

Many people are unaware of the elevated risks of getting pierced at a mall kiosk, by an untrained tattoo artist, or by a novice piercer; a skilled professional is necessary for safety and optimal results, whether piercing the ear, nose, or elsewhere. This revised and expanded edition is the only comprehensive reference book available to help you navigate the entire piercing process. It contains new illustrations, diagrams, and photos, along with fully updated information, including:
  The best piercings and placements for various body parts and body types
  Terminology, techniques, and tools of the trade
  Vital sterility, sanitation, and hygiene information
  Jewelry designs, sizes, materials, and quality
  Piercing aftercare and troubleshooting advice for successful healing
  How to become a piercer, piercing throughout history and in modern culture, and the future of body piercing

The Piercing Bible, Revised and Expanded, includes essential medical and technical updates, as well as refreshed illustrations and jewelry photography, to reflect today's standards and best practices for safe, professional piercing.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984859327
Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed
Publication date: 06/01/2021
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 150,713
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Elayne Angel has been an innovator and advocate of safe piercing for more than thirty years. She is a contributing writer for PAIN Magazine, and performs online consultations for anyone with piercing problems or questions. Angel is a proud member of the Association of Professional Piercers and has been honored with their President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Mérida, Mexico.

Read an Excerpt


Whether it fascinates or repels, something is captivating about hard metal worn through tender flesh. Piercing is thrilling. Literally. The word thrill originates from the Middle English word thrillen, “To perforate by a pointed instrument. Hence, to cause a shivering, throbbing, tingling, or exquisite sensation; to pierce; to penetrate.” By that account, piercing sounds quite exciting. And so it is! Piercing is among the most ancient and current practices for ornamenting and customizing the human form.


Except for traditional earrings and a rare nostril stud or hoop, piercing was virtu- ally unheard of just a few decades ago. As body piercing initially came into the light from the far-flung fringes of society, people perceived it as radical, deviant, and even disgusting. Over time it has fully blossomed as a mode of personal expression nearly anyone may use to enhance their appearance, self-image, and quality of life. Professional piercing has come into its own, and it has been accepted as a part of our modern culture.

In some areas, it seems more people have visible piercings than don’t! In con- junction with talented and creative body jewelry designers and manufacturers, piercing has been elevated to a legitimate art form. We’re now in the second generation, with Millennial and Gen X parents bringing their children to studios for safe ear piercings, instead of the mall to be pierced by a gun.

The practice of piercing is one of the activities grouped under the term body modification. These pursuits include tattooing, scarification, branding, and other body art. The number of possible placements on the body; the array of jewelry styles, sizes, and materials; and the necessary aftercare all distinguish piercing from other types of body modification. Because piercing breaks the protective barrier of the skin and leaves a foreign object in the tissue, there are risks of infection and other potential dangers. If all aspects are not handled appropriately, complications are more likely.

The spectacular rise in the popularity of piercing has resulted in a proliferation of piercers and jewelry. Some of the products and services are excellent, but unfortunately, many are of inferior quality. Piercing establishments range from inexpensive jewelry kiosks at shopping malls to high-end specialty studios staffed with expert practitioners, the latest equipment, and top-quality jewelry. There is a big difference between them! You significantly increase your chance of unevent- ful healing by choosing the right piercer and jewelry. The relative newness of professional piercing—it has been widely practiced only since the 1990s—has many ramifications for consumers. There are still no standardized regulations, piercer training, or competency requirements in the United States. A few states now require practical exams for piercers, but many laws merely mandate hygiene requirements or restrict the piercing of minors. In some areas, however, basic regulations do not exist; in others, local laws are not enforced.

Even the most egregious cases of piercer negligence and malpractice seldom result in litigation, fines, or other consequences.

The art of piercing is continuing to evolve, and its practitioners are still experi- menting with its limits and possibilities. The information in this book is intended to distill the most sensible piercing advice available. By educating yourself, you can get a flawless first—or twentieth—piercing or find the information you need to deal with a bungled job.


The Piercing Bible is directed primarily toward piercees. However, it also contains a wealth of information for the parents of children who want to get pierced or are already pierced, teachers who work with pierced students, and health care professionals dealing with pierced patients (whether treating problem piercings or performing unrelated medical procedures). Apprentices and piercers will also find an authoritative reference work containing plenty of hints and tips, and an educa- tional tool for clients.

Part 1 touches on the ancient and modern history of this art form and contains general information about who is getting pierced and what commonly motivates them. The novice piercee should carefully read parts 2 and 3, which provide a rundown on everything that should be taken into consideration when deciding to get pierced. Part 4 delves into each of the most common piercings in detail. Piercees can use it as a reference, and apprentices and piercers will also find point- ers here. This portion includes information about jewelry sizes, styles, and piercing placements, as well as the techniques that are commonly used to perform each piercing. Next, part 5 offers in-depth aftercare advice and provides practical information on troubleshooting healing complications. Part 6 explains the main- tenance of healed piercings, discusses special situations encountered when living with piercings, and explores advanced practices for healed piercings, including stretching. Finally, part 7 takes a look at the future of piercing and includes a sec- tion on becoming a piercer.

The appendices include a table with jewelry size conversions (gauge, inch, and millimeter), and a chart of minimum healing time ranges for popular piercings. You’ll find a summary of data gathered in the first major survey of US body piercers in Appendix C, page 334, and a sprinkling of stats from it throughout the chapters. There’s also a handy glossary of piercing-related terms.


Piercing can be dangerous, and it is far more complicated than most people realize. The hazards range from tearing, scarring, migration, and rejection to localized bacterial invasions and, though rare, severe infections. Consumers need facts about the risks, choices, and best practices involved. People who interact with piercees also need to be informed about various aspects of piercing. Many myths have persisted, including in academic and medical literature; they are finally dispelled here too.

Piercing and tattooing are often linked, as they are frequently performed in the same establishments. However, tattoos are comparatively straightforward; healing is rapid, and there are seldom complications. The same is not true of piercings. They require aftercare throughout the healing period, plus regular maintenance once healed. The array of options can be confusing: where to pierce, what jewelry to wear, and how to care for the wound. Many people get the bulk of their “facts” about piercing online. Unfortunately, the web can be unreliable, offering contradictory ideas from questionable sources. Countless piercees have experienced needless pain, avoidable healing problems, and undesirable outcomes from a lack of sound information.

Will your pierced body part turn green and fall off if you don’t follow every rule and guideline in the book? Probably not, but by educating yourself and being conscientious, you will have a much higher chance of having a healthy piercing that heals well, gives you a minimum of trouble, and provides maximum enjoyment. Admittedly, not every piercee who fails to adhere to sound practices has a terrible catastrophe—but some do. This book takes a cautionary tone because the risks are real.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Preface ix

Introduction: Piercing 101 x

Part 1 The New Piercing

1 Motivations 2

2 Piercing Past to Present 8

Part 2 Groundwork and Preliminary Considerations

3 Risks, Myths, and Warnings 20

4 Is Piercing Right for You? 30

5 Is Piercing Right for Your Child? 36

6 You and Your Piercer 40

Part 3 Piercing Preparation

7 Picking and Preparing 54

8 At the Studio 59

9 Piercing Procedures 68

10 Jewelry 101: Sizes, Shapes, and Materials 78

Part 4 The Holes

11 Holes in Your Head: Ear, Nose, and Facial Piercings 102

12 Kiss of the Needle: Tongue and Oral Piercings 132

13 Torso Piercings: Nipple and Navel Piercings 151

14 Below the Belt: Genital Piercings 166

Part 5 Healing, Aftercare, and Troubleshooting

15 Essential Guide to Healing and Aftercare 222

16 Trouble and Troubleshooting 246

Part 6 Living with Your Piercings

17 Upkeep and Stretching 268

18 Advanced Jewelry and Practices 285

19 Special Situations 302

20 Sex! 311

Part 7 Piercing in Modern Culture

21 Piercees and the Establishment 320

22 A Career in Professional Piercing 324

23 The Future of Piercing 329

Appendix A Gauge Conversion Chart 332

Appendix B Minimum Healing Times Chart 333

Appendix C The Piercer Survey 334

Notes 338

Glossary 349

Select Bibliography 363

About the Author and Contributor 364

Index 365

Customer Reviews