Branding is the term for the scarification method done by heated instruments, mostly metal, burning a mark onto your skin. Branding is an incredibly painful, and very possibly dangerous practice not to be taken lightly. Never do any brandings without being in a clean and safe shop environment with a professional who has had plenty of experience in these types of body modification. There are many variables in branding, and pressure, temperature and healing are all very important, and with the miscalculations of any of these, you can be sent to the hospital. Once at the hospital, your problems may not be over, as many times you can suffer severe nerve and tissue damage, and also may be appointed to a psychologist before you’re able to leave the hospital, since many body modification practices are considered a form of mentally unhealthy self punishment. This article is not going to be giving instructions on how to do a branding, nor should it be taken as an argument in favor of branding, just an informational aide on the practice of branding.
Branding is usually done by shaping a piece of metal into a design or symbol you want to get, heating it, and pressing into onto the skin. I am leaving out the details that should only concern the professionals, as again, it is not something that should be done on your own.
The skin will most likely blister immediately, and this is very painful, but bleeding is usually very little or none at all. The artist may or may not release the pressure of this blister by popping it, or may rub a oil mixture onto it. This differs between every branding artist, and they also treat each branding differently, depending on the desired affects.
Depending on whether you want it to be a more pronounced and raised burn or not dictates how you take care of it. The area can be very tender for a few weeks, and will scab up greatly. If you do not want a raised scar, you should heal it like any other burn you may get. Your artist will ask you to cover it with a bandage for the first few days to protect it from infection, and afterwards apply creams and lotions to it to help it heal. The after affect will look different than normal skin, often having a slightly more pink or red tone to it, and having a shiny look to it. The quality of the shape will depend on how well your artist executed it, as well as how your body healed it. Minor touch ups may be desired after you are completely healed.
If you desire a more pronounced burn, your artist will ask you to cover it for the first few days to heal it, but then take a different approach with the scabs. A more pronounced branding is a bit differently during the initial burning session, but also needs to be irritated during the healing process. Your artist might have you come back into the shop every time it scabs, so that they might pick or cut off the scabs. This will be slightly painful, and interrupts the healing, causing it to become a bit more pronounced each time. Rarely will the artist ask you to pick the scabs yourself, as it needs to be in a clean manner, but also keeping the shape of the design in tact.
You need to be careful with branding, as the signs for infection may not be as noticeable with a burn as it is with other body modifications. Always consult your artist if you think something is wrong, and if you are still unsure, don’t hesitate to see a doctor you trust.