Body piercing in the Western world has evolved considerably in recent decades. Pierced ears led to multiple ear piercings, which forged the way for belly button and nose piercings, which helped to popularize eyebrow piercings as well as lip, chin, and tongue studs. Standard shapes for jewelry have included beads and barbells. But certain body modification aficionados have taken body piercing to a new level of “whoa!” These gals and guys are now into what they’re calling body armor. Simply put, it’s body piercing taken to the extreme.

Typically, body armor complements folks who have tribal tattoos, we’re guessing, to make them look more fierce, or elegant, depending on your point of view. It’s a hybrid of tattoos and body piercing that creates a 3-D effect with shiny flashes protruding from tattooed skin. This type of 3-D body art is the ultimate form of self-expression in order to stand out in a society soaked with millions of its people sporting run-of-the-mill tattoos. Advocates feel it’s quite an enchanting extreme.

Machined Metal Tattoo Enhancements

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Sculpted metal forms forged in the shape of tribal warrior symbols (similar in shape and style to tribal tattoo designs) are manufactured specifically for body piercing purposes and are readily available for enthusiastic participants. How it’s done is slightly different from the normal earlobe piercing a teenager might get in a mall, where the routine process is to quickly shoot an earring post through the earlobe using a piercing gun.

Body armor piercing is more of a clinical art form because the finished product needs to be aesthetically pleasing. The technical name for the procedure is surface piercings. Surface piercings are performed on flat areas of the body and are much less invasive than transdermal or subdermal implants, which are more extreme forms of body art.

The piercing needles used in the procedure are made of surgical steel and are specially designed to pierce the flesh and cause the least amount of pain. These types of needles promote faster healing and come in a variety of gauges; the smaller the gauge number, the larger the needle. Body armor piercings are usually never below 12 gauge. (In comparison, nostril and lip piercings are performed using a 14- to-16-gauge needle.) Gauge size selection is crucial to help prevent implanted body armor migration or pieces of armor tearing away from the skin; larger-size gauges can help with this possible post-op problem. To also help prevent such occurrences, the needles used for body piercing, in general, are extremely sharp with laser-cut precision edges that cut cleanly through the skin without much tear or pull. These hollow needles actually cut a tiny hole cleanly through the skin being pierced without bruising flesh or skin.

Some body piercers clamp the skin with forceps to secure and steady the area to be pierced; others use their fingers to pinch as they puncture. If a client seems to be flinching, surgical pliers can be used to keep the skin in place before piercing. A cork backing beneath the pieces of body armor can add a touch of comfort before and after the process. Once the needle is removed, the armor jewelry is put into place immediately.

Then, with their body armor securely in place, these body mod enthusiasts are ready for battle!


  1. FAQ. Safe Piercing website.
  2. Martell A. How body piercing works – the ins and outs of this cutting edge process. How It Works website. August 25, 2008.
  3. Tattoo-piercing hybrids. Trend Hunter website.