IN PLAY TODAY – Cell Popping with Trix Lotuswolf

What is Cell Popping?

Cell popping, also known as micro-branding, is a form of body modification where a red hot needle or poker is used on the skin, leaving a series of red dots. Now considered an art form, it has been around for hundreds of years after first being used on cattle. I learned it in 2008 and spent over a year doing it to myself, fruit pieces, and scraps of leather before I ever tried it on another person. For those that are interested, I highly suggest that scraps of leather are the place to start. Because their elasticity is similar to skin, it can help in learning to gauge depth, a very important skill in this art form. How deep into the skin you press or what technique you use will determine how long the picture will last.

There are several ways to perform cell-popping. I first learned the stick and poke method. This is done by heating a small metal rod with a torch for several minutes and then placing it on your bottom’s skin. I don’t care for this method because it is not practical in play unless anticipation is your goal and patience is something you have in abundance. Another method is to use a disposable cautery pen, available at most medical sites. These provide enough heat for a single medium size design. One of my preferred methods is to use a Wood/Leather burner with a temperature gauge that I can set. I also like using a pyrography pen with my dedicated partners. Both of these can become hotter than expected when used on human skin, so careful attention to temperatures and depth is important when using these tools.

Cell-popping is essentially applying heat to blister the skin. At 118 degrees, human skin can sustain first-degree burns, and a second-degree burn injury can occur at a temperature of 131 degrees. Human skin is destroyed when temperatures reach 162 degrees. It is very important to be aware of this and know that prolonged exposure to this particular kink can cause permanent damage. Cell Popping can be semi-permanent to permanent; I have seen designs last 6 months and some designs last several years. Its longevity is dependent on the person’s skin, how they care for it, if they pick at it, and how deep the pops were done. 

Before engaging in this sort of play, the site of the popping should be cleaned thoroughly to avoid infection. Similar to artistic cutting, dots should be used to make the lines in order to leave a small bit of unbroken skin.  This will minimize the risk of necrotization. The design can be hand drawn or printed and copied. I have found that purple surgical pens make defining the lines easy; and when I clean the pop off, it is not as dark.  Please note that when a design is complete, a residue of the marker will be stuck in the lines because of the blistering over it.   Detailed pops can take upward of 30 minutes, but some are quicker.  When healing, it usually takes around 2-3 weeks for the scabs to fall away, but sometimes it can take longer depending on water intake and the way an individual’s body heals. Everyone is different when it comes to cell popping. 

I am usually equipped with my kit and happy to provide a small pop or a large one if you have a design in mind. I’m also willing to teach anyone in detail if they are interested. I can be reached on Fetlife. My name there is TrixWolf.

Trix working on a cell popping

Fresh cell popping

One month of healing

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