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Body Branding


Most people who want to add art to their body will choose a tattoo. However, there are people out there who want to take things to the extreme. Some of these people will choose body branding.

Body Branding
A fully healed body brand.

Body branding is a way of scarification done with a third degree burn on the skin. After the burn heals, a beautiful or meaningful design of scar tissue is left behind on the skins surface. Body branding has been practiced for thousands of years, and people have been using heat and fire to modify their skin in many shapes and designs forever. These practices have been born from ritual, religion and many other reasons. Body branding has been one of the oldest body modifications on record.

Branding has made it from slavery branding to college hazing to SM practices. In modern times, the branding may stand for enduring pain or something to be respected. The mix of fire and pain are very much an experience to behold and value. Most branding is done in tattoo studios or for ritual, but with a professional. Like tattoos, branding is usually done to show ones inner self and to proclaim individuality.

Branding the Body
A healing body brand.

Body branding is a form of scarification. The designs that are left are permanent and will not fade, but have to be a much less detailed design than a tattoo. For the branding to work, the cars must be raised scars known as keloid scars. People with a lot of melanin in their skin are easier to brand.

There are and have been several different ways to be branded along with several types of branding. You should always think about your personal requirements from this experience. Some people do this for the experience only and the scar is what’s left, others for the outcome or scar (art). It is a good idea to make sure that the person doing the branding has the same interests at heart.

The two major types of branding are “strike” and “cautery”. Strike branding is done usually for rituals and is the closest to the ancient technique. Cautery branding is done with a surgical cauterizing pen.

Strike Body Branding
The tools for strike body branding.

Strike branding is the customary method of heating one inch pieces of stainless steel that have been bent into desired shapes in a flame and then pressing it rapidly against the surface of the skin to create a burn or scar. The edge of the stainless steel is heated with a torch until it is hot enough and each individual line and curve is a separate piece of stainless steel called an "iron". Each iron is only about an inch in length to guarantee consistent contact and heat. A circle two inches around would be 4 separate strikes of the iron.

One design consists of strikes with different irons just for a second and then removed, depending on the design the next iron is heated to temperature and the method is repeated. Most strikes done well will spread to about three times their final width of the original iron. This method sometimes enables the lines to be spaced far enough apart that they can grow into a design, rather than a mound of scar tissue.

Cautery Body Branding
Using a cautery pen for branding.

The second method of body branding is called cautery pen branding. This is done by using a cauterizing pen. This pen is like a marker with a very hot tip. With the pen you can actually draw whatever design you want and the finer lines and detail work is more present.

This pen can be used for smaller brands and for even branding into a tattoo if needed. This branding is much more like cutting than burning. A surgical cautery pen is drawn on the skin along a design. When done well, designs can be more meticulous than strike branding. There are usually no seams in alignment at first like the strike method. Both types of branding heal mostly seamless, however the cautery pen allows the lines to flow more similar to a brush stroke than an edge of stainless steel.

There are two lesser used forms of branding. One is known as laser branding, or electrocautery branding. The electrocautery branding device is sort of like an arc welder for the skin. This can be a very precise and detailed form of branding.

The fourth and even less practiced for of branding is called cold branding. It is like strike branding, but instead of heating of the steel, it is frozen to extremely cold temperatures using liquid nitrogen.

Healing Body Brand
A healing forearm body brand.

Whatever choice of body branding you decide on should be done by a professional in a sterile environment. As with all body modification you should always follow all of the after care and keep the area clean and dry. Body branding is a third degree burn and should be cared for like one. The healing process takes anywhere from two weeks to a little over a month. If you do not take care of the area branded it may end up infected and sometimes will end up in not the design that you had hoped for.

Body Branding
Another healing body brand.

Today, body branding is growing in popularity, but the risks are great for those who do not know what they are doing. People who get branded share a unique, very intense experience. Body branding is not for everyone though.

If a tattoo is more your comfort level when it comes to body art, check out the huge gallery of tattoos over a Chopper Tattoo. They have the best in the business.

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Tattoo Trivia:

As of 2006 36% of people from the age of 18 to 29 had at least one tattoo.