Branding, Three Months Later

A little while ago, I wrote about my first experience with branding. It was a really beautiful and wholly positive event, and I almost immediately started planning for my next brand.

After a few weeks, I was starting to get a little worried about how it was scarring—it seemed to be way, way bigger than I was expecting it would turn out, and two parts of the brand were merging together into a blob. Still, I thought, the scar would quickly start to turn lighter and lighter, and eventually it would be barely noticeable. That was part of the appeal of branding for me: unlike tattooing, branding results in a much more subtle design on the skin, a slightly lighter shade of one’s normal skin color. So I thought.

Now, over three months later, the scar has keloided, and is bright pink. The two distinct parts of the design have become connected with scar tissue, making it almost completely indistinguishable. The location (the middle of my chest) and the bright color attract a lot of comments, now that it’s hot and I’m wearing tank tops a lot, and I’m getting tired of explaining to people what the brand was *supposed* to look like.

But the worst part is that the keloid has become itchy and painful, and the skin around the brand has become extremely sensitive as well. I can’t bear to have the brand touched at all, and I have a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep in, because lying on my side pushes the skin together and rubs the brand. I’m starting to worry about how long it will take for the pain to go away — a year? More? I have no idea what to expect. I’m thinking about going to a dermatologist. I’ve tried to get in touch with Fakir, who did the brand, but he hasn’t responded yet.

I’ll always treasure the experience of getting my brand, but I really wish I’d gotten more information about the healing process before I went through with it. I don’t think I’d have done it if I’d realized how much the shape was going to change and how painful the resulting scar would be.

UPDATE: I did end up going to a dermatologist, who told me that the sternum and upper back are areas that are particularly prone to keloiding, and that it was likely that skin trauma of other kinds in those areas (cutting, hooks, etc.) would have the same result for me. He gave me a cortisone injection and told me to start using silicone scar pads (Curad Scar Therapy) every day. I did so, and after four or five weeks I noticed that the keloid had become flatter and wasn’t as painful. I stopped using the pads when I ran out of them (they’re expensive!), and while I don’t have the shooting pains anymore, the scar is still very sensitive and occasionally itchy.

In three months, I will have had the brand for two years. I’ve gotten used to it, to a certain extent, but I expect that I will someday again explore options for how to get rid of the scar. I ultimately regret getting the brand, and would advise others to (a) test your skin as much as possible first to know how it will likely react and (b) if your skin is sensitive and prone to scarring, avoid the chest and back unless you want keloiding. (I understand that for a lot of people, keloids aren’t painful and are aesthetically pleasing.)

7 comments so far

  1. R on

    I have a pretty serious brand on my back (not done professionally), which is the only one I have that’s keloided.

    I seem to remember it itching for about a year, maybe irregularly a little longer after that.
    Now I forget it’s there (it’s been about four years, but you won’t have to wait that long :)).

  2. Lindsay1984 on

    It’s been almost 3 months, right? It really shouldn’t still hurt. I had an unintentional burn that resulted in complete removal of a small patch of skin, and even the area around that wasn’t especially painful for more than a month. And I’d suggest taking weekly pictures of the brand, because keloids are known for only getting bigger. Also, if you get one, you’re more likely to get them in the future, so I’d strongly suggest not doing any more branding in areas you can’t cover up well.

    Just as a suggestion, after the current brand is as healed and de-keloided (you probably ougt to see a dermatologist for it), you can always get a light pink tattoo of the original design over the scar/keloid/burn area. It probably wouldn’t look a whole lot different than if the brand had turned out perfectly.

  3. subversive_sub on

    Brands are much deeper burns than accidental ones — I still have faint scars from other burns, and those never hurt at all. From what I understand, keloiding isn’t an uncommon thing to happen to brands, and keloids themselves can be somewhat painful and itchy. So I’m not quite as worried as I once was, though I still am considering going to a dermatologist. (Finding one that’s body-mod friendly might be a challenge, though…)

  4. Katie on

    I had the same result from a hook suspension – scars that keloided and continue to itch, as well as second thoughts about an activity I really enjoyed at the time.

    Good luck with it, whatever you decide to do/whatever they decide to do…

  5. Ranat on

    I noticed you linked to BMEzine for a reference on keloids, so you might ask among the local body modification community about what to do about your keloid (if you live in an area where there are enough of them). A lot of “professional” body modders know how to reduce keloids surgically, which people often choose to do if they become painful or inhibiting.

  6. Simon Brooke on

    Could you give us a second update? How is the scarring now? Do you still have discomfort?

  7. subversive_sub on

    Yep, just updated — see above. Contact me via email if you want more details or have specific questions: subversivesub at gmail dot com.

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