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Needle torture is among the most cruel of all bdsm tortures. Play piercing or needle play is an activity involving placing needles through the top layer of skin, or using needles for temporary piercings. Play piercing can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours or days and can induce orgasm in many of the people who try it. Play piercing is usually made with thin needles, where the needle itself is left in for the duration of the scene and taken out at the end rather than replaced by jewellery. This article is about the main tools of play piercing – needles.

There are several different types of needles that can be used for piercing such as hypodermic, accupuncture or needles for suturing. All needles designed to pierce the skin are not tapered to a point like sewing needles but instead are cylinders cut off at an angle at one end to provide a cutting edge: examples include the old fashioned piercers’ needles, ‘Medicut’ canula needles and hypodermic needles intended for injections and blood sampling. Piercers’ needles and medicuts are much better suited to permanent piercing. Hypodermic needles are by far the favoured choice of play piercers: they are thin, relatively cheap, sterile, disposable, and have a plastic fitting on one end designed to attach to a syringe but ideal as a handle and to prevent them being pushed right through the piercing.

Obtaining them can take some research and footwork: though they are legal to buy openly in many territories, and despite the health problems of drug users having to share needles, some pharmacists are still unwilling to supply them to just anyone. Good sources are the large pharmacies that supply to the private medical profession.

Hypodermic needles


The most commonly used are hypodermic needles (the kind used for injections and blood sampling). The hypodermic needle is a hollow needle commonly used with a syringe to inject substances into the body or extract liquids from the body. They may also be used to take liquid samples from the body, for example taking blood from a vein in venipuncture. Hypodermic needles are normally made from a stainless-steel tube drawn through progressively smaller dies to make the needle. The end is bevelled to create a sharp pointed tip. This lets the needle easily penetrate the skin.

Hypodermic needles are by far the favoured choice of play piercers: they are thin, relatively cheap, sterile, disposable, and have a plastic fitting on one end designed to attach to a syringe but ideal as a handle and to prevent them being pushed right through the piercing.

Most hypodermic needles can be bought at any medical supplier or pharmacy, however some pharmacies will not sell them without a prescription that requires them so you may need to hunt around a little bit. Most medical supply shops and drug stores will sell sharps containers, and will tell you where they should be disposed of. Some states allow one to purchase needles without a prescription.

The hypodermic needle should travel just underneath the surface of ordinary skin, to emerge through the skin a short distance from where it was inserted. The needle tips have a bevel. With regard to the skin being pierced, the bevel may be up or down (it’s personal preference); having the bevel sideways makes no sense, however. Shallower = More Pain, Larger Diameter Needle = More Pain.

The diameter of the needle is indicated by the needle gauge. The smaller the gauge, the larger the needle diameter. And there are a number of systems for gauging needles, including the Stubs Needle Gauge, and the French Catheter Scale. Twenty-one-gauge needles are most commonly used for drawing blood for testing purposes, and sixteen- or seventeen-gauge needles are most commonly used for blood donation. Larger-gauge needles (with smaller diameter) will rupture the red blood cells, and if this occurs, the blood is useless for the patient receiving it.

Needles in common medical use range from 7 gauge (the largest) to 33 (the smallest) on the Stubs scale. Common needle guages for play piercing are 26 through 18. Different gauges of needles have different color hubs, but these colors are not consistent across brands. On the needle package, the needles are commonly identified first by gauge, and second by needle length (in inches). Thus, a package labelled “22 1 1/2″ would contain 22 gauge needles with a length of 1 1/2 inches. Each gauge is normally available in lengths of 15mm/0.5″, 25mm/1″, 40mm/1.5″ and 50mm/2″. The commonest gauges are shown in the table below.

Gauge Diameter in mm Colour
19 1.1 White
21 0.8 Green
22 0.7 Grey
23 0.6 Blue
25 0.5 Orange
27 0.4 Brown
30 0.3 Clear

The thinner the gauge, the less intense the sensation. Gauge 30 needles are almost impossible to feel in certain places, for example. Very sensitive areas require thinner needles such as 25 and 27; for general purposes gauge 21s are ideal, and for an intense sensation 19s can be used in all but the most sensitive areas.

Different lengths suit different purposes. In general, play piercings go right through the body, so 15mm needles are usually too short to be useful. 40mm is a good general purpose length, and 50mm affords the possibility of threading the needle through surface skin more than once.

Accupuncture needles


Accupuncture needles used in procedure of inserting and manipulating filiform needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. Most modern acupuncturists use disposable stainless steel needles of fine diameter (0.007 to 0.020 in (0.18 to 0.51 mm)), sterilized with ethylene oxide or by autoclave. These needles are far smaller in diameter (and therefore less painful) than hypodermic injection needles since they do not have to be hollow for purposes of injection. The upper third of these needles is wound with a thicker wire (typically bronze), or covered in plastic, to stiffen the needle and provide a handle for the acupuncturist to grasp while inserting.

If you thought BDSM acupuncture was medicine for aches and pains then you have never tried it correctly. Needle torture is never painless and it isn’t intended to be relieving. In the hands of a skilled sadist pain is a sweet dish served at the point of sharp needle. The best plases for acupuncture needles are places with soft skin like nipples, pussy labias and especially clitoris.

Needles for sewing

Ordinary sewing needles are not ideal: they have to be sterilised first and may not be sharp enough to go through the body with ease. Furthermore almost all the widely available ones are made of cheap chromium plated metal, and these should never be used, since the plating could come off in the piercing and give all sorts of infection problems. Solid steel needles are difficult to come by, though they are sometimes available for marine use, where they are required to be rust resistant. Pointed needles also hurt a lot more — the tapered shape means that the skin is forced further apart after the initial penetration.

For suturing (sewing) the skin, hypodermics are clearly unsuitable, and if solid steel sewing needles are unobtainable or undesirable the alternative is to use surgical sutures from medical suppliers. These are small curved needles looking rather like toenail clippings, supplied in sterile packs already attached to a length of sterile nylon or silk thread. Unfortunately they cannot be handled successfully or safely by hand and must be used with forceps. Nylon is stronger but more difficult to knot; larger sized needles of at least 26mm (1″) length are preferred for most play purposes.

There are several shapes of surgical needles, including:

- straight

- half curved or ski

- 1/4 circle

- 3/8 circle

- 1/2 circle

- 5/8 circle

- compound curve

Needles may also be classified by their point geometry; examples include:

- taper (needle body is round and tapers smoothly to a point)

- cutting (needle body is triangular and has a sharpened cutting edge on the inside)

- reverse cutting (cutting edge on the outside)

- trocar point or tapercut (needle body is round and tapered, but ends in a small triangular cutting point)

- blunt points for sewing friable tissues

- side cutting or spatula points (flat on top and bottom with a cutting edge along the front to one side) for eye surgery

More about suturing (sewing) in BDSM we’ll discuss in our future articles.

We’ll discuss also about play piercing technique and safety tips of course. So please click here to subscribe to our news.

Now at last we can say only that needle play is considered edge play and care should be taken to follow all appropriate safety precautions when engaging in play in order to avoid injury or infection. Only use sterile needles approved for medical use. Please remember: one should purchase sterile needles, and not reuse them after they have been used. Used needles are dangerous and should be disposed in a sharps container. Most importantly, you should avoid allowing infections into the wound and avoid blood contact.

You can find more play piercing photos at our Play Piercing Photos page.

Attention! This is an evaluation version. Do not use this article as the guide to action!

Top Pain – masochism website – play piercing photos


Extra Pain – needle torture website

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