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High Quality? Part 9 – Needles

Needles can be a reason to not get that beautiful piercing for some people. Today’s blog will aim to put your mind at rest by making you more familiar with the needles used in the body piercing world . There are 2 main categories to piercing needle; Cannulas and Blades. Just like jewellery, all needles are not made equal. Quality needles will make a piercing a more comfortable experience.

Cannula

Cannula needles are also known as catheter needles and are taken from the medical world. These are the most common type of needle found across the UK and Europe. Cannula needles arrive pre-sterile from the manufacture so they don’t need to be sterilised in-house by your piercer.

This type of needle has extra parts unnecessary for piercing as they aren’t being used for their intended use. Anyone who has spent some time in hospital will recognise that these types of needles are the ones used for IV drips and for catheters. They feature the metal needle, a plastic sheath and a hub. The hub isn’t used for piercing as it is where a syringe or drip would be attached. Some piercers will use sterile scissors to cut the hub off to make jewellery insertion easier.

A Braun Introcan cannula needle

There is less likelihood of “losing connection” when using cannula. When piercing with cannula the metal needle is removed after piercing and the plastic sheathe is left in place, this means that there is less chance the sheathe and jewellery will come seperate before the jewellery is fully in.

As cannula needles were not designed for piercing they can be large and cumbersome to work due to the length of the needle and hub. Technical ear projects are not always suited to cannula needles. The tip of a cannula needle also has a design which can be seen as less than ideal for body piercing as they are designed to make temporary holes that the body can heal closed rather than a permanent channel that stays open.

Cannula needles are designed so that a medical practitioner can insert them without having to wear gloves. They sometimes come with handles so that the part entering the body never gets touched (aseptic technique). This can be useful for piercing in studios where sterile gloves aren’t worn (At Rogue we use sterile gloves for every piercing, but more on that in the future) but as the jewellery needs to be handles too sterile gloves are recommended.

The main downside to cannula needles is that due to the sheathe, they tend to make an oversized hole e.g. jewellery is 1.2mm diameter and a cannula makes a 1.3mm hole. This leads to excess bleeding during the piercing procedure.

Braun Introcan and Trust Mosquitos would be a quality cannula needle brands to look out for.

Pros: Pre-sterile, simpler jewellery connection, built in aseptic design

Cons: Make an oversized hole which causes excess bleeding, can be too long for working on intricate parts of the body, not legal to use for piercing in some countries, can’t be curved for freehand techniques#

Here is a video provided by Brian Skellie (www.brnskll.com) showing how cannula needles are made

Blade

Blade needles are the original piercing needle and have seen a major comeback in recent years. The name blade comes from the needle looking like a blade when viewed sideways.

A Sharpass blade needle by IS LLC

As blade needles have been made specifically for piercing they are available in a wide variety of thicknesses and lengths. This means that the perfect needle can be selected for each piercing rather than making do with whatever size is close enough. Choosing a needle the same thickness as the jewellery reduces bleeding during a piercing and it is quite common to have no bleeding at all!

As blade needles don’t have a plastic sheath, individual packaging or a hub the plastic waste generated by them is much less. We gotta look after this little planet of ours! Added bonus of no sheathe is that blade needles can be curved to allow for more comfortable jewellery transfers and to pierce more fiddly areas of the body as well as the piercing being more comfortable as the piercing hole isn’t being stretched to fit the sheath in as well as the needle.

Just like everything else in the world there are good and bad blade needles. Ask your piercer which brand of needle they are using and keep an ear out for Industrial Strength aka sharpass needles, Katana, Kiwami and That’s The Point.

Blade needles have a different tip configuration to cannula. This configuration is called a tri-bevel needle as there are 3 cutting faces. Tri-bevel needles allow piercers to use bevel theory which again reduces bleeding and makes a piercing more comfortable as there is no pop or crunch.

Pros: More sizes available, hugely reduced bleeding, more comfortable piercing

Cons: Inexperienced practitioners can lose jewellery transfer

No matter which type of needle is used it should be clean, sterile, used for 1 piercing and then disposed of safely.

Next week we’re getting stuck into aftercare!

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