I have been keeping as busy as I can to do not have to write this article…..
I’m not a huge fan of scarification; even so I will try to keep it as neutral as I can….
You can basically divide the scarification process in 2:
1) Branding (scarification through burns, from heat and others; the definition of the world branding is literally:
-an identifying mark burned on livestock with a branding iron.
-mark with a branding iron; disgrace, condemn
-Mark of ownership of an animal
There are basically 2 types of branding, “strike” (is when the artist take a piece of metal and repeatedly burn the skin over a drawing) and “cautery” (is when the artist uses a cautery pen to burn the image on the person’s skin).
2) Cuttings (fine scarification using a thin blade, and to this process you can add colour using tattoo ink, sometimes it can include the removal of skin patches).
Ok, now you know the difference between branding and cutting…….
Let me share a bit more with you:
If you decide to choose cutting the procedure will be more or less like:
- topical anaesthetic is first applied to the skin
- the design is drawn with ink onto the desired area
- The artist then traces the design’s outline with a scalpel on your skin, you do not have to worry at this point, it will be a fairly shallow cut.
- After the out line the artist will apply more anaesthetic and wrap your skin for few minutes (not because he thinks that you are a wimp), but it helps the blood diversion, and make easier to work.
- Depending on the size and the amount of work involved the process can take something like 4 hours of: cutting, anaesthetic applying, wrapping and waiting until the volume of blood decrease.
If your choice is branding, the process is more or less like marking cattle (did you ever see it on TV and thought ,” poor animal”, ok so we are speaking the same language here; anyways the procedure goes more or less like so:
- You choose the image that you want (try to keep in mind that after burning the human tissue tents to expand quite a bit, and as the name say, you will be inflicting a third degree burn on your skin).
- try to stick with simple designs, you should know that the results vary quite a bit, and no artist can predict for sure how thick or thin the scar will be, it depends on each one of us healing process. Simpler the design easier is to predict the results that you will get.
- Try to choose a flat are of your body, preferably away from bones and vital organs
- The looks of the scar depend also of the how long the blade will be in contact with the skin, the artist should never apply pressure to it, in order to get a heavier scar the artist have to keep the blade in touch with your skin for longer.
No, you want a very elaborated image, sure, no problem at all, I actually agree with you, once you are doing something at this level do it well……but those designs have to be very well panned on paper and after well shaped on the metal blade, the shapes should be between 1 to 3 inches long, so the iron can retain the heat long enough to make a clean and even strikes. Is a good idea to have the artist to place the blades on your skin to check if all the surface of the blade is in contact with your skin evenly.
Before starting the process you should ask the artist to test the blades, just to be sure that is all ok, and you wont have problems with metal distortion, caused by an uneven distribution of heat thru the metal or by the metal to be to thin or to small. The artist should test the blades on a piece of metal to find out the perfect balance between heat and pressure, so he won’t have to perform the tests on you!!!! Is not really the best of the options use your body as test piece.
The artist should have at least one assistant to hold on to the propane torch.
One last thing, before you start with your scarification:
The area that you will get it done has to be extra clean….not only the area but the surroundings as well (I know that it sounds like stating the obvious, remember at this moment you are nice and comfy reading this article, but if you decide to go under the scarification process you be under some pressure and forgetting small things can cause a large impact after)
The interesting part of the scarification process is that the healing process is a huge part of how your scar will look after. No one can guarantee 100% how your scar will look after healing, but you should really try to avoid getting it infected.
How? Not that simple….
First be sure that you got it done in a clean and professional place, do not think that because scarification was used by primitive tribes and cults, that you can get it done by your sisters friend that is a famous dominatrix….look for places that are experienced, have a portfolio with works previously done and also try to find an artist that will explain to you all the process in a way that you feel really comfortable about what you are doing.
If your choice was the cutting scarification:
The caring process will include tons of cleaning, meaning after around 6 hours you will have to remove the bandage, and wash the place with cool water and soap, rinse it and gently pat dry it. You will need to do it 2 or 3 times daily, for the first 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the type of the scarification and the place that you got it done; it usually takes between 6 to 8 weeks for the primary healing and few months for you to get the true final result.
There is also something called agitation of the scarification, it is used to intensify the looks of your scar, if you want it to have a larger amount of scar tissue on it or not. The cute part of this process is that the most used method of doing it is doing something that your mother probably told you do not do your whole life, picking at the scabs that will form…The other way is a bit more, how can I put it, intense, you will have to rub the area with a soft toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol……..and if you really are up to it, you can do them both first picking the scab and after brushing it, lovely, just keep in mind that you have to do it gently………being rough or over picking it can damage the looks of the final image…..by the way, only do the agitation after few days that you got it done, do not rush things, please……..and also feel free to call the artist if you have any question, I’m sure that he wont think that you are an idiot if you do not know exactly what to do and how to do.
You choose the branding:
You also will have a large amount of after caring to do, such as:
At the studio still the artist should put an anti-bacteria cream on it, cover it up with a sterile pad and get it held in place by surgical tape.
You will probably have to apply the anti-bacterial cream for 3 days, and after that you will have to clean the place around 3 times a day with hydrogen peroxide, you can stop covering the brand after 3 days that you got it done.
In the case of branding, you will have to keep in mind what your mother always told you, do not pick the scabs!!!!!!!!!!!!! And after every shower clean it with hydrogen peroxide. Brands take an average of 3 to 12 weeks to heal (just reminding you: branding is a 3 degree burn on your skin), so please do not forget to be gentle and very careful while cleaning it.
Just a small note here:
I did try to be as neutral as possible while writing this article…….I’m sorry if I could not….I never got a scarification so I’m giving you the view of a person that researched and wondered for few weeks about the subject…If you have any comments to add please do so…
My name is Adriana and I’m the creator and developer of Wirlyhome label.
I’m jewellery and clothing designer, I’ve been working in the fashion industry for the last 9 years of my life, I went to fashion school in Canada, where I lived for 10 years, and 8 of those long years I worked as a fashion designer, illustrator and forecaster.
I came back to Brazil last year to open my label Wirlyhome, and now after almost 1 year of hard work the label is finally picking up and we are getting some recognition.
If you want to see some images about body modification go to