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Piercing Retainer 101

Now that school is back in session and everyone is back in work, we are being asked ‘what is the best way to hide my piercing?’ We also frequently get asked what to wear when undertaking medical procedures such as MRIs and surgery. There are a few different options to consider in terms of piercing retainer, and we will discuss them today.

The MRI Machine was invented in Nottingham. One of our little claims to fame!

Do I Even Need a Retainer?

The biggest thing to consider is, do I actually need a retainer in the first place? There are a few things to consider in this case. Firstly, how old is your piercing? A well-healed piercing can usually sustain itself without jewellery for a short while, such as for the duration of an MRI which usually lasts between 15 and 90 minutes. For MRIs and other short procedures, it is recommended to remove your jewellery just before the procedure, and reinsert it as promptly as possible afterwards. You may need an insertion tool or taper to help you do this, which we recommend buying in advance. If you are not confident in changing or reinserting your jewellery yourself and have a medical procedure coming up then please get in touch! We are more than happy to help you remove and reinsert your jewellery absolutely free of charge in the case of medical procedures. You do need to book this, so give us a phone call to avoid paying the checkup fee.

If your piercing is still relatively young, or is in a placement that closes more quickly such as an oral piercing, it is best to choose a retainer in advance of when you need it.

The Gold Standard Retainer

Even though our jewellery is ASTM F-136 Titanium or solid 14k and 18k Gold which are all totally MRI safe, a lot of medical practitioners will ask you to remove your jewellery before procedures regardless. If you feel confident in doing so, you can self-advocate to your MRI technician and medical team. We are happy to provide you with the paperwork required to prove your jewellery is MRI safe if you need it. However if you do need to remove your jewellery, for example if your procedure is on your head or face, then do consider a retainer. If your procedure is longer than an hour, we’d recommend purchasing glass jewellery as a retainer. Glass is the perfect retainer piece, being inert and transparent so as not to leave an afterimage on any x-rays or imaging work you have done. Lead-free Borosilicate Glass is also totally nonporous and body safe – It is truly the gold standard. If you have a procedure coming up, we highly recommend contacting us to organise ordering glass retainers for any piercings that you are worried may close. 

Glass is one of the best materials for body piercing and is usually the material of choice for stretching amongst professional piercers, although you do not need to stretch your piercings to wear it. Glass jewellery is available in every size and thickness! One of the biggest advantages of glass for piercing jewellery is its non-porous, extremely smooth surface. This allows for easy and frictionless insertion and removal of the jewellery. It also means that the jewellery can be easily cleaned and will not collect bacteria as with a porous structure such as acrylic, plastic or wood.

Aside from being great for medical reasons, glass is also a handy way of concealing piercings for work or school. Glass is shiny though, so do consider Neometal ‘Freckle’ Discs if you want something extremely subtle. 

Glass jewellery is not only beautiful, but a perfect material to wear as a retainer.

The Unsafe Piercing Retainer

Retainers, although intended for short term wear, should still be implant-grade and body safe. Anything that is inserted into the body needs to be safe to wear. So where does plastic jewellery stand? Plastic jewellery is pervasive in the piercing industry. Whether that be under specific brand names, in the form of flexible a plastic ‘retainer’ or classic acrylic jewellery, plastic jewellery is everywhere. So why do we not stock it here at Rogue? What is the issue with flexible plastic jewellery?

Here you can see a plastic retainer under an SEM electron microscope. Bacteria will live and grow very quickly in this cozy matrix of holes. Your body will be permanently irritated by the rough texture, too.

The main issue with plastic jewellery is that plastic is porous and rough in texture, and made from unregulated mystery polymers. When something is porous, it means that it is covered in small holes that allow liquids to pass through. This means that bacteria and other nasties have crevices in which to grow. This biofilm can cause severe irritation to a piercing, alongside causing nasty odours and excessive crusting. The roughness of the texture of plastic also means that it is constantly rubbing the inside of your piercing like sandpaper. This can cause irritation bumps, scar tissue formation, and can significantly damage the inside of your piercing. There is little research into plastics that act as an implant such as in piercings, however a study performed in 2016 showed that plastic or teflon jewellery was found to carry up to ten times more bacteria and biofilm than the same type of jewellery made from highly-polished Titanium, (Borges et al, 2016). This study also viewed the different jewellery under a microscope to visualise the difference in surface finish and bacterial buildup (yummy!).

There is so much more biofilm present on the plastic jewellery – This porous surface allows buildup and irritation.

All this aside, the number one reason why Rogue does not stock plastic jewellery is because we simply do not know what it is made from. There are seven main categories of plastic, however there are thousands of different plastic polymers with their own composition and characteristics. No plastic jewellery manufacturer is willing to divulge the exact plastics they use. With every single piece of jewellery we stock, we receive certification that it is A) What it says it is, and B) Made from a material proven to be implant-grade and safe to wear. We simply do not have this information for plastic jewellery. Some plastics have been shown to release carcinogenic or toxic compounds at body temperature, such as when ingested. All plastic jewellery degrades over time, and can cause issues at any point. It’s our prerogative to provide our clients with safe jewellery that can last a lifetime, which is why plastic is not offered at Rogue. If you do have plastic jewellery as a piercing retainer, do use it as a last resort and remember that it is only recommended to wear for a maximum of 8 hours before being discarded. Plastic is not at all made for long-term wear.

The main takeaways from this are that we are here to help! If you cannot get jewellery back in after a procedure, we can help you. If you need a piercing retainer for long-term wear then we can order items in for you too. We just want to see happy and healthy piercings out there! 

Contact Us

Instagram

hello@roguepiercing.co.uk (General Enquiries)

kat@roguepiercing.co.uk (Custom orders, Jewellery Enquiries.)

References

Borges, L.P., Ferreira-Filho, J.C.C., Martins, J.M., Alves, C.V., Santiago, B.M. and Valença, A.M.G. (2016). In VitroAdherence of Oral Bacteria to Different Types of Tongue Piercings. The Scientific World Journal, [online] 2016, pp.1–6. Available at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2016/7349371/ [Accessed 23 Sep. 2021].

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