If you have ever watched any movie depicting the Wild West or any western shoot-em up movies, you have probably seen some cattle get branded in the process. Now we have talked about scarification in other posts and now it is time to move on to a new form of body modification called branding.
It seems like those that really want to be different will take things into their own hands. A tattoo just doesn’t seem to do it anymore for these thrill seekers. Maybe they are used to the pain and want something that tests their spirit a little more or they just want to be different as tattooing continues into the mainstream.
In this post we are going to talk about branding and explain the process, so you can you be more informed going in. By the end of this post, we hope that you will have enough information to decide if branding is the right thing for you. However, before we get into all that, take a look at these pictures below and you might have a better idea of what branding is before you read.
What Is Branding?
At the core of what branding is, you heat up a piece of metal in a shape and then put it on the skin to burn the shape into the animal or person receiving it. The result of this action is a third degree burn that destroys nerves in the area. The result after the branding is the rise of scar tissue in the design that was branded.
There are different methods of branding that we want to talk about because it isn’t just one style or way.
The good ole fashioned way to brand is using the striking method. In this method of branding, the artist will bend a piece of metal into a design that will be used to create the brand. After the design has been molded, the piece of metal is heated with a torch. After it is heated, the brand is placed quickly and carefully on the desired location. It also might take multiple strikes in the same spot to make the design really stick.
The next method of branding is called the cautery method. This method seems to be a more advanced way to go through the branding process. In this method, the artist will use a cautery pen to finish the product but before that can happen, the artist will use a hot scalpel to trace the design in the same way an artist will outline a tattoo before filling it in. This method seems to make a more delicate line and is best for intricate designs. Although it will still hurt like hell and cause third degree burns, it will look much cleaner than the striking method.
That being said, there are some disadvantages to this method versus the striking method. First of all, many feel this method takes away from the primal nature of the striking brand. It might look too clean or well designed. Secondly, this method is far more painful that the striking method because it is slower and much more meticulous. Finally, some people can’t handle the smell of burning flesh.
You get this with the striking method but because it is done much faster, it is only for a short period. On the other hand, cauterizing the design might take a long time which means you’ll be sitting in that stench for much longer.
Are There Risks?
Anytime you are exposing your skin to the elements in its raw form, there could be risks. You might deal with a permanent loss of feeling in the branded area. In addition, you are more likely to get an infection with an open wound like this. You might have an allergic reaction to whatever metal you are using, and you could even go into cardiac arrest (this is rare but has happened before).
How to Mitigate Risk?
In order to mitigate risk, we would first suggest going to someone that has experience in branding body modification. This can make all the difference as branding requires special training and is a skill. You are really upping the chance of problems if you let someone brand you with no experience. I mean, you wouldn’t let someone do a break job on your car if they weren’t trained. The same rules apply here. Deep and serious burning can happen if you let an amateur brand you.
Secondly, you can mitigate risk by using the proper aftercare methods and products. Many will carefully peel off scabs during the healing process to make the scarring stand out more when everything heals. This is fine for the final product, but you are putting yourself at risk for infection by opening the wound over and over. That is a decision you’ll have to make when waiting for your brand heal.
Some things you can do to help the healing process along are below:
– During the first 48 hours you should rub the open sores with aloe-based products.
– Rinsing the wound with plain water.
– Clean the area at least twice a day with scent free/antibacterial soap.
– Keep the wound wrapped as long as you feel. Maybe until the seeping stops
– After cleaning, pat the wound dry instead of rubbing.
– Make sure you keep everything clean until the brand has completely healed.
The point is, there is no need to rush through the process of getting your brand or the healing process. It is so very important that you don’t just let anyone do your branding. This isn’t like tattooing in that you’ll just have an ugly design on your body for years. With branding, you could end up getting seriously hurt.
We suggest doing your research and making sure the person you are going to work with has a full portfolio of branding and that you feel comfortable with the person and the place you are going. If you have any questions, we can try to help so just reach out if you need some assistance.