First -- The article is written to sound like, to imply that  F138, a surgical implant type of stainless steel specification is the standard of the body piercing community (which means 316LVM because it is the only body piercing jewelry that carries that specification). It is not the standard, never has been the standard, and there is no satisfactory need demonstrated or explained. 

The word "implant" should be banned from all discussion of body piercing except to illustrate the defining differences that relegates implantation a medical procedures. Body piercers should not be performing implants in a shop. A 20 year veteran of body piercing just does not qualify as the training for doing surgical implants.

Part of the subterfuge of the article involves the mixing in of "implant" grade stainless steel as if nothing less than implant grade were suitable. A little discussion of the physical properties of "implant" grade should quickly prove the absurdity when applied to body piercing jewelry.

11.4 Surgical Implants
Implants are most commonly of austenitic Stainless Steel. This is not simply because stainless has a good track record, but it is because its track record has been longer. (1999:255)

The most common cause of failure is fatigue, especially corrosion fatigue that is initiated through crevice corrosion which arises at interfaces, for example, between the mating surfaces of a screw and a plate. An opportunity for body fluids to seep in here initiates pitting corrosion from which a crack can develop [ lack of oxygen to interact with chromium to form a protective layer ].... The inevitable alternation of stresses accentuated by any freedom of movement between the two surfaces is the ingredient promoting corrosion  fatigue. (1999:256)

It is important that the steel be fully austenitic with fine grain size to enhance formability and mechanical properties. Inclusions must, of course, be minimal, a requirement best met by vacuum degassing [LVM processing]. (1999:256)

The surface of the implants must be meticulously finished with no tool marks, nicks, scratches, or embedded foreign matter. ... [this] reduces the potential area available to corrodents because of a finer finish. ... The metallurgical requirements and surface finish must be rigorously observed. (1999:257)

The reason for this "meticulous" care is that two pieces rub together, under loads and stresses, flexing, and moving countless numbers of times. The materials wear and  particles rub off into the body.area surrounding the implant causing havoc.

Metal ions are released ... through inevitable corrosion reactions. Chromium and nickel in the tissue surrounding the implant increases measurably... (1999:257)

Shekhar Nath and Bikramjit Basu report on the work of Hierholzer et al. studying the corrosion behavior of  elements in stainless steel having an allergic or carcinogenic effect, in infected fractures: "They observed that both the absolute concentration of the ions and the Ni:Cr ration in the tissues adjacent to stainless steel implants is greater in infected cases than in non-infected cases. Thus, infection as a cause of allergy has to be considered." (Advanced Biomaterials 2009:82

The implication may mean that previous episodes of having infection, at least in a location with N, ions, for example again, pierced ears with costume jewelry and a flare-up of an (easily treated) infection, may produce the Ni allergy.


One reason, beside superior corrosion resistance, Titanium alloys are sometimes chosen is based on better wear resistance replacing stainless steel for hip implants because the load applied at the hip causes greater wear. (1999:257

If there were a problem with 316L clusters of cases should be presented to highlight and illustrate the threat to consumer safety so that we all can see how they concluded that their position is valid and in the consumer interest. Where is the research referred to so that others can evaluate it. And concerning the consumer, in what ways does the user actually benefit?

Unimax used to purchase 316LVM products in the 90s for resale but 316LVM jewelry stopped selling when externally threaded 316L jewelry was produced efficiently, had a markedly lower price, resolved threading issues, proved effective, was safe and accepted in use as not causing problems.
As I recall it was not until sometime in the early 1990's that  N. Y. got their first piercing shop when Gauntlet opened their third and final store on Fifth Avenue in N.Y.  I took their 40-hour, week-long Introductory Body Piercing Course in 1995, pierced thousands of customers in the heyday of tongue and navel piercings.

At the time, Gauntlet was the most well known source for jewelry, but there were others who became major players, such as Wes Wood of Unimax Supply Co., Barry Blanchard of Anatometal, Carey Brief of Rings and Things, Pierre Thibault of Thibault Jewelry, MDM, Pleasurable Piercing, Pacific Piercing, Cathy of Atlantic and artisans going store to store offering hand crafted new and innovative products made of different materials.
In 1994, Jon Cobb was working at my tattoo shop, Kaleidoscope Tattoo, (later the name was changed to Sacred Tattoo) piercing, experimenting, and making custom pieces of body jewelry. It was during his stay that I observed and received some training and did a few piercings under his supervision before I attended Gauntlet's classes. He left Kaleidoscope to open a retail piercing shop called Cicada Piercing on 7th Street in the East Village in Manhattan but It closed all too quickly. Gauntlet closed as well. Maria Tash was operating Venus Modern Body Arts in Alphabet City and built a piercing-only reputation, later adding tattooing.
It was Pleasurable Piercing, one of the oldest producer, Carey Brief, Thibault and Atlantic Piercing who began making externally threaded jewelry, at least on the East Coast in the U.S.. Anatometal of California produced high end 316LVM piercing jewelry, boasting the ultimate in a fine lustrous mirror bright finish (a well deserved boast).

To this day, enthusiast practitioners of piercing who share the same desire to differentiate themselves and hold themselves apart from the "ordinary piercers" adopt the use and continue the arguments for 316LVM, mirror finish (legitimate as a fashion statement), and internal threading (illegitimate). 

By the mid 90's when we began to contract internationally for jewelry the metal supplied was 316L because, which is true today as well, LVM was not affordably accessible in Asia, and still has to be imported from the UK resulting in a marked increase in cost without any benefits for the average consumer. Titanium body jewelry material is imported from the EU who have a lock on a supply route for Asian needs.