Microdermal piercing is now bringing a new dimension to Hong Kong's body art culture.
Henri Anna, for one, catches people's eyes on the street with it. She sports three shiny rocks attached to her chest and another on her forearm.
"I love it," she notes. "I find it special and pretty. Sometimes I have people pointing fingers at me, but I don't mind. It's a form of art and a fashion statement to me."
Anna runs the MHK Body Piercing studio, which is among the first to offer microdermal piercing Hong Kong. It's a new, less invasive form of skin decoration that anchors implants on the surface of the skin, not deep within it like conventional "transdermal" piercing techniques.
Anna is a licenced practitioner of body piercing with more than 10 years' experience. She recently finished an intensive training course in Britain. In Britain and the US, body piercing studios need to carry a licence, unlike here in Hong Kong, where basically anyone can set up shop.
Piercing, even the new microdermal variety, requires small surgery so care has to be taken, Anna stresses. "I need my clients to be well-rested," she notes. "It's not like there's a lot of blood, but it's still an intrusion into the body."
During the procedure, she implants a small pod under the skin. It's made of titanium, a rust-proof metal that generally doesn't trigger allergic reactions. Various decorations can simply be screwed and unscrewed onto the pod.
The wound from microdermal piercing takes about three months to heal fully so it has to be kept clean daily. "If you have an implant at the back of the neck or on your back, make sure you have somebody to help you clean the wound," Anna says. She advises against having piercings around the waist as they may cause discomfort during rest. "I will also avoid areas near blood vessels and a lot of muscle," she adds.
Microdermal piercings work well with tattoos, Anna says. "I saw some really cool combinations in Britain. There was this guy with a tattoo of a rose with a few shiny red beads implanted in it," she recalls. Piercings can enhance the visual appeal of tattoos, she adds. "I can make a dragon tattoo stand out much more with a pair of piercings for eyes."
Anna believes body piercing is catching on in Hong Kong, especially among young people, despite cultural misgivings. "People still see tattoos and [piercings] as a mark of gangsters," Anna notes. "But it's an art form. Every piercing I do becomes part of my art collection and I take great pride in it. I would never do a piece if I didn't think it was nice."
Anna's work is shown at mhk-piercing.com