Research your piercer!!!! [rant]

Ack! I was just browsing one of the other piercing zines online and read the interview with their piercer of the month. I'm not going to mention names (there's no point), but MY GOD. It always amazes me when people who've been in this business for five or more years have no real concept of what they're involved with. I don't know if they were trained by idiots and then never learned on their own, or what the reasons are, but I hear a never-ending stream of insanity coming out of professionals mouths all the time — a reading of many of the experiences on BME illustrates this. Anyway, here's a sample quote, in response to a “what's your favorite kind of jewelry” question:

Definately 100 percent Surgical Stainless Steel. There's this big European phase right now about how terrible S.S.S. is and that we should only be allowed use of Titanium made products due to it having less nickel content in the metal. I have been at this profession a few years now and I insist only upon using S.S.S. as I have had such wonderful responses! I've seen terrible results in using Gold and Silver due to these substances being magnets for dirt. And only when a customer requests, or it is a know fact that they are completely sensitive to any metal will I resort to Titanium.

Let me point out a few things:

  • There's no such thing as surgical stainless steel. “Surgical” is a marketing term. I'm going to assume that they're attempting to refer to “implant” grade (aka “ASTM F138”, or “ISO standard 5832-1” and “ISO standard 6892”).
  • Stainless contains nickel. Lots of people react to that. It's a simple fact — most people with nickel issues can still heal with stainless, it just takes longer. There are a very small number of stainless alloys like Elgiloy that don't contain nickel, but when you buy stainless jewelry, this isn't what you're getting.
  • Saying gold and silver being “magnets for dirt” is lunacy. I don't even know how to respond to this. It's insane. Low grade gold is problematic BECAUSE it has nickel in it. Silver and silver alloys leech into the body as well… Just like nickel leeches out of Stainless Steel. ALL materials will attract bacteria when placed in a wound. None will draw DIRT. I sure hope this piercer understands the difference.
  • The comment about titanium having “less nickel” is also insane. Titanium in pure form has NO nickel — it's not an alloy; it's an elemental metal. Titanium alloys include aluminum and/or niobium — no nickel there either.

In any case, you can argue back and forth all you want about how sensitive the average person is to nickel, but ANY piercer who tries to tell you that nickel allergies are virtually unheard of or tells you that stainless is a superior material for piercing is either a dimwit or trying to scam you by selling you cheap jewelry with a higher profit margin — it's no mistake that the medical implant industry has all-but phased out stainless steel in favor of titanium alloys.

Ask your piercer these about things — if they don't know, they have no right to be piercing you. There's no excuse for a piercer not having at least a basic comprehension of materials science… It's unethical and dangerous for them to be putting things under your skin that they don't understand.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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