Piercing question: I have dermal anchors in my back — should I remove them before giving birth?

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Note: this isn't Heather. Photo by Progress Piercing.
I am a first time mama-to-be and I have piercings, as I am sure many other offbeat readers do. The question I am coming up on is about some of my less-than-removable piercings, namely, my dermal anchors.

My nurse practitioner mentioned having to remove jewelry if I needed a c-section but I won’t be able to pop these out at a moment’s notice. I was wondering if any other readers had trouble during pregnancy with piercings or if they had to have them removed?

Any info would be appreciated as I’m having a hard time knowing where to look. — Heather

Alright, piercing fans — anyone have experience with dermal anchors? Did you take yours out prior to giving birth?

Comments on Piercing question: I have dermal anchors in my back — should I remove them before giving birth?

  1. There are two reasons that are often quoted as reasons for removing piercings before surgery. The first is that the metal from the jewelry adds an extra risk for infection with them in. The second major one is that if there is any complications during surgery and they need to use electrical equipment such as a defibrillator it can cause very serious burns to the patient if the piercings are left in place. Some doctors will not proceed with any type of surgery without all jewelry (piercings included) being removed so you may want to check with your doctor to see what their stance on it is.

  2. Although it may not be the most desirable choice, you may want to have them removed just case. They definitely would want those out in the event of a c section and not taking them out may leave you in an even more undesirable situation. But I would also just have a long talk with your nurse practitioner and sort out your options.

  3. Yes, please speak to your health professionals in great length. I have had 2 pregnancies with dermals. I didnt have any problems.
    *****My concern would be that your body would not heal the wounds.*****
    I experienced an injury in each pregnancy that WOULD NOT heal. My body just refused to heal them. One was a burn from boiling water. It stayed unhealed until after my delivery. That would be my concern. I would consult your health professionals and make a plan IF something came up what they would do. Good luck.

    • I had this experience as well. I had some scratches on my legs from various clumsy bumping-into-things that persisted for the entirety of my pregnancy, so much that my friends and family commented on how long-lasting they were. Within a week of delivery, though, they were completely gone.

  4. Also, my husband is a licensed tattoo artist in SC. He just renewed his certification, during that class they stated that metal is no longer a concern. The threat of burn is just not a concern. Hope that helps.

    • This is one of those things where you’ve really got to talk to the particular doctors in question, and the staff at the hospital you plan on giving birth in (or transitioning to in case of emergency, if you’re going for homebirth).

      At the end of the day, it really comes down to what the surgeon and hospital policies are. Regardless of who is right, “my piercer said it’s fine” isn’t going to fly in the OR. Even if it really isn’t a risk, you’re not in a great position to argue.

      And if they are going to make a thing of it, you’d much rather have your piercer take out the dermals than the OB surgeon!

  5. My doctor told me to remove my clit-hood piercing. The reason she told me was that in case of a c-section, they cauterize the cuts using electrical implements, and there’s a risk that the current could seek out the piercing. Given the nature and proximity of my piercing, I plan to remove it. I have a traegus and rook piercing as well and I’m not removing those, the chance the current will travel that far is slim.

  6. I’m interested in the responses here because I’ve been investigating a dermal, but for after I give birth. One thing that seems important is that the anchor portions (below the skin) are made of different materials, and they’re supposed to be medical grade. The pieces that go outside the skin can be lower-grade, and can also be replaced with plastic. So it seems important to know the metal making up your anchors and discuss it with your doctor in that context.

    Also, removing an anchor is not as simple as removing a piercing, especially if the anchor has been in place for any amount of time.

  7. Originally I didn’t take out any of my piercings (though I dont have any dermal anchors). Then when my daughter’s heartrate dropped and didn’t come back up, we had no other options anymore. Even though I was 9cm dialated, it was c-section time.

    I did have to take out all my piercings, except for a couple that I can’t take out (my nose is a ball-less piercing and I have an orbital that just won’t come out anymore). They taped everything that couldn’t be removed just in case. I never had any burns or anything, but I definitely recommend talking to your doctor about it. Every case is different, and every doctor is different.

  8. I don’t have dermal anchors — in fact I had nothing more radical than pierced ears with permanent rings. The hospital insisted on making me take them out. They said it was policy. I tried to talk to them about it but no luck.

    (And then my holes sealed up during my hospital stay — I was a little too addled to put them in again right after the birth and I’m a very fast healer.)

    I’d talk to everyone involved beforehand — surgeon if possible, hospital, etc. Explain that these aren’t removable and see if they budge. If not, you may want to get them removed ahead of time by your piercer.

  9. As a surgeon, my concerns would be current from the cautery. If you are having a somewhat urgent c-section, things will be really crazy and there’s a grounding pad that they put on you for the cautery. if this is put on your back, the risk of burn is much higher.

    I think a lot of these concerns are theoretical concerns, and are based on anecdote and fear in the medical community. But there is legitimate concern about being sued, so that unfortunately drives people.

    I don’t know how difficult it is to take out these anchors (I’m assuming it involves an incision) but definitely talk to your health care provider.

  10. i was made to remove all my jewelry before it even got to a c-section level. as soon as i got admitted to the hospital i was told to take out my septum ring or they would cut it off. luckily, my husband used to be a piercer and is good at removing tough jewelry (it was a small-diameter captive-bead ring. we used pliers to put it in.). so yeah, i would seriously consider having them removed on your own before you get too close to your due date.

  11. I am terrified to ask my piercing question because I want to start assisted insemination next month and it might be a dealbreaker. I have a nipple pierce. Have I ruined my nipple? It seems so obvious that I have but I keep hoping that I haven’t. I would like to breast feed, but even beyond that, what if scarring from my piercing keeps milk from being expressed at all? If anyone has info on this I’d really appreciate it.

    • I think there was a nipple piercing article on OBM awhile back. It shouldn’t be a problem to nurse though you may leak more than average. Also, you should remove them before going into labor, or in early labor at the latest, so you don’t have to worry about taking them out before your first breastfeeding,

      • Thank you so so much. I found the OBM post and there are many, many comments about how it’s not a problem if your piercing has healed well. I was scared even to look for the information and it feels great to have it now!

    • I had a nipple piercing that I removed before I got pregnant. It healed up with no problem, and I’m still exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months. My left breast (the previously pierced side) seems to produce less and have slightly weaker letdown, but it seems that most women have one breast that produces more regardless, and it’s just a coincidence. I would probably recommend removing the nipple piercing prior to pregnancy, because, as mentioned upthread, some women have a hard time healing during pregnancy.

  12. I just googled why you have to take piercings out before surgery today, it honestly didn’t make any sense to me. I still think it’s more of a fear thing than backed by actual science. I have 12 piercings and if I ever have to have surgery I will put PVC in all of them. I paid a lot of money to have these holes put in me and I’ll be damned if I’m going to remove them!

    • It is absolutely backed by science. As several other people have mentioned here, they can cause problems with the sterile environment in the OR, some people can develop burns with the use of some equipment, etc. I can completely appreciate the fact that you paid good money for your piercings and appreciate them, but this is absolutely something that should be checked with your doctor, especially with more difficult to remove piercings like the ones being asked about here.

  13. For anyone with belly or other piercings they don’t want to fully remove, there is a maternity belly ring, which could likely be used elsewhere, that is sold on http://www.mom4life.com. It is made from surgical tubing, and has ball ends that insert in the tubing. The ball ends can be removed for surgery, to make your piercing metal-free.

    Obviously, this doesn’t help the person with the original question…

  14. I appreciate all the comments! I suppose I will just have to hope my doctor will let the anchors stay since I will have to have them cut out to remove them and that sounds not fun. Although, my mother and husband are probably excited since they have never liked my piercings anyway : ) I will just thank my lucky stars all my other piercings are removable.

  15. When i had breast reduction surgery in Dec of ’08, the surgeon had me sign a waiver because i didn’t want to remove a few weird cartilage piercings (they were difficult to get out and i wasn’t aware that i’d need to in advance). i had zero trouble.

    from what i can remember, they told me there was a risk of burns from the cauterizing they were going to do.

  16. I had a dermal on my chest before my pregnancy, healed for 2 years and perfectly fine. Once pregnant, it started acting up and just fell off, yup, like that. My piercer tried to get it back in place but it just wouldn’t heal. So be aware that yhe hormone levels can play tricks too.

    i also had an emergency c-sec, and they only removed my labret stud, not sure if they would have asked for more if it has been planned.

  17. I had a hospital birth which ended up as an emergency c-section when the little guy just wouldn’t budge due to his humungous noggin and self made noose. I don’t have anything as hard core as you but I’ve got a few cartilage piercings and an easy to remove nose stud.

    No problems at all. They just wheeled me right in there no lines no waiting.

  18. As a midwife, I’ve served lots of clients with dermals, hood piercings, etc. My clients with hood piercings are sometimes concerned that the jewelry might fall out during the pushing phase of labor, or cause a tear or something like that, but I’m glad to say it hasn’t been a problem at any births I’ve attended.
    Then again, we have a home/birth center practice with a relatively low risk of c-section, so I honestly never thought about what those piercings may mean for a c-section…

  19. I myself have 5 dermas. I have 3 by the side of my eye and 2 in the middle of my chest. I also have 3 rings in my mouth. I’m not sure if this can effect me if I go into a csection. I took out my belly n nipple. My nipple healed great, doesn’t look like its even been pierced and my belly is still open due to I’ve had it for many years but since my dermas are all above my breast, do u think I should remove them just in case?

    • things in your mouth, or around it, might be considered impediments if you have to go under anesthesia and they insert a breathing tube. i had to remove ALL my piercings, regardless of location. this included my tongue, regular earrings, tragus, and septum.

    • Yes, it would be wise to remove. I am a labor and delivery nurse and have experiences where complications have made intubation a necessity during a c-section. Piercings within the oral cavity interferes with intubation. I will also point out that complications can come up during surgery and after that may require further testing such as MRI’s. You absolutely have to remove every piece of jewelry to have this done. Unless you would like the MRI to remove them for you. We hate to see someone have to remove something they truly enjoy, but the ultimate goal is healthy mommy and baby. Nothing is more important and no risk is to small to ignore when it may affect that outcome.

  20. Would like to chip in here. I spend about half my working life in an obstetric operating theatre. When we have patients with metalwork they can’t remove (piercings, jewellery etc) we just make sure it’s well covered with tape so it no longer presents a hazard. Bigger metalwork (hip/knee replacements, pacemakers) present a bigger problem but little bits like microdermals really aren’t an issue.

  21. I got mine removed from a dermatologist, im so happy to have them out, they were always getting infected and just uncomfortable, mine were in my chest. definitively go to a doctor

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