Edge play comes in many forms, but to some it is more than just a type of BDSM play; it is an art form. Body modification is a common type of edge play that includes everything from minor play piercings to actual piercings, branding, scarification, skin peels, flesh hook suspension, and more.
These types of play techniques should never be attempted unless you are a trained professional. Today I will discuss each of these edge play techniques.
Piercing Play and Piercings
Play piercings are done and only kept in during the scene or for the night. The top will use needles between 22-14 gauge usually and have some type of design in mind to place the needles in. These designs could be simple or extremely complex. Some common aesthetics for play piercing are wings and corset piercings. Wings are obtained by using hypodermic needles with plastic tips on them. The needles are inserted into the top layer of skin and a feather is placed in the plastic tip of the needle. The skin will hold the needle in place and the bottom can walk around with the wings in for multiple hours as long as the sharp tips of the needle are corked. Corset piercings can be more stable and last for years if wanted and done correctly, but most are just done for the play scene with hypodermic needles and string or ribbon.
The differences in play piercing and actual piercings are that actual piercings are done with hollow piercing needles of 16 gauge or higher, and they last for as long as you wish to keep them in. Piercings also have sterile jewelry placed in them after the needle is removed. Never allow someone who is not a piercing professional or body modification artist to give you a piercing. All equipment must be pre-packaged and sterilized using an autoclave.
There are three major forms of branding, hot strike, cold strike, and micro-branding. Hot strike branding is the type of branding most commonly used to mark cattle or other animals. Cold strike is the same method as hot strike, but the top will use liquid nitrogen. If you are unaware of this technique, it is done by heating or cooling a metal design and then pressing it to the skin for 3-4 seconds. In personal experience, cold strike branding is less painful than hot strike. These types of brands can last 6 months or be completely permanent depending on skin tone and how your body heals.
In dungeon settings you will more commonly see micro-branding. Micro-branding is also known as cell-popping and is done with a blow torch and a steel dental pick. The top will clean the area with alcohol, apply the design by drawing it on the bottom or by using tattoo application paper, and then brand the bottom with little dots that will make the design. Each dot takes half a second to accomplish and you can actually hear a small pop when the dot is complete. The pop sound is the reason why micro-branding is called cell-popping. The heat from the dental pick will make the water in the skin cell pop causing the sound and a small dot. When the dots are all finished the design can easily be seen. Micro-branding can last 2 weeks to 6 months usually depending on skin tone and how you heal.
Branding should never be attempted by anyone that has not been properly trained. Branding opens up the skin for risks of infection and if done wrong can lead to serious tissue damage, loss of feeling, and permanent injury. Brandings will often cause blistering of the skin. If blisters or scabbing occur never pick the blister or scab because you will open your wound up to possibility of infection, and this is your body’s natural way of healing.
Scarification and Skin Peels
Scarification is a type of body modification commonly done with sterile scalpel blades. The top will clean the area, apply the design, and then start the process of scarification using scalpel blades to cut into the skin. Artistic cutting scarification is done on a superficial level and when done correctly should be 1-2mm deep. Cuttings take years of experience to be able to do correctly and safely and should always be done with the presence of another medically trained individual. Cuttings can last up to 6 months or be permanent.
Skin peels take cuttings to the next level. After a cutting design is complete, the artist will cut out sections of the design and use forceps to cut off the top layer of skin. This process will allow for a much larger scar that is permanent. This should only be done by professional body modification artists that have had professional training. More than likely, your local Dominant or sadist cannot and should not do this to anyone.
Flesh Hook Suspension
Flesh hook suspension is the art of hanging from hooks that are placed within the skin. Most suspension artists use 6-gauge sterile hollow piercing needles and 6-gauge flesh hooks or Gilson bars, but you may also see 4-gauge needles and hooks as well. Hook suspension takes years to learn and become professional at. Body modification professionals from all over the world gather to learn new techniques, get in training, and to suspend with other artists at large weekend long conventions every year. Professional teams are recognized by their affiliation with the ISA or International Suspension Alliance.
Hook suspension is more than just about piercing the skin. It takes a full team of individuals to do one suspension. A piercer, medic, rigger, spotter, and a flyer. Flyer is the term used for the individual who is suspending. High flyers are individuals that are known for going 10 to hundreds of feet in the air with only the hooks, rigging, and their own skin holding them. Hook suspension takes more than just physical pain tolerance to accomplish; it is also mental. The individual must have full trust in themselves, the team, and the equipment to be able to get off the ground.
This type of body modification and art form is one of the most extreme forms of modification and can leave permanent scars, damage to tissue, and possible death if done incorrectly. Hook suspension has been around for thousands of years and can be seen in tribes from all over the world. It was originally used by tribes as a rite of passage into manhood and meditation practices and the “hooks” were usually made from bones of animals. Some tribes even made the men rip the bones from themselves to be released from hanging. In today’s society it is much different but is still used by some for mediation and a release of endorphins. The science behind it is that when your body experiences enough pain, the brain will release serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline. When these endorphins are released the person will achieve one of the highest natural highs that an individual can achieve and many suspension artists crave this release. After suspending, the flyer must wait 30 days before suspending from the same area, so many artists have multiple positions that they enjoy suspending in.
Any type of play that opens the skin can allow for infection to enter the body. You can never be fully protected from that risk, but there are a few things that can help. Always have a fully stocked medical kit, alcohol for skin, gloves, face masks, and a cleaning solution for your area. The cleaning solution should be antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial. The most commonly used solution for area cleaning and blood in your area is Calvicide (not for use on a person) because it kills everything. All equipment used should be pre-packaged and sterilized in an autoclave. Sterilization equipment is very costly and is not often found in the hands of individuals that are not professionals, but before allowing these types of play to occur always ask for credentials of the person and their certifications. Even after play individuals should keep all areas exposed to play clean and dry with non-scented, non-colored, antibacterial soap and alcohol to help prevent infection. NEVER PICK SCABS OR BLISTERS!!! Some may say to use some form of Neosporin or Aquaphor, but that is incorrect and can allow for bacteria to stay trapped under the gel or cream. Please do your research, find qualified individuals, and never try this at home or on yourself. These types of play are extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
Remember: This is your life; live it your way, but be sure to play it safe in the DANGER ZONE!!