Plastic temporary body jewelry needed soon
September 11, 2009 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Temporary body jewelry for MRI not found because of advances in gardening equipment. Help.

I'm having an MRI on Tuesday to confirm diagnosis of a labral tear in my shoulder. My nipple rings have to come out for it, I believe - they are 10 ga 316LVM CBBs - and I'm looking for plastic temporaries. In the past I'd have used .100" weed whacker cord for this but all the modern weed whacker cord is not cylindrical - it has sharp edges, by design, and that makes it unappealing. Four piercing places nearby (Silicon Valley / Santa Cruz CA) claim they have no plastic jewelry in this gauge.

My favorite place for raw materials stock, McMaster-Carr. The only plastic rod they list in .100" diameter is carbon fiber which doesn't sound too appealing either.

Nipple piercings, even old ones, have a reputation for closing up abruptly, so I am not sure that doing without will work. These piercings are old (1991) and if I am wrong about this then please correct me.

Please help with ideas.
posted by jet_silver to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What about some kind of fishing line? If it were me though, I'd just take them out immediately before and put them back in right after. I can't imagine that an 18 year old 10 gauge piercing would close up that quickly.
posted by chiababe at 8:39 AM on September 11, 2009

You are dealing with about an hour of scan time, max.
Can't go without even that long? I confess ignorance about nipple piercings, but this seems odd.

BTW, best question ever!
posted by SLC Mom at 8:44 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are some plastic tongue piercing retainers. Looks like Lucite is a keyword for a safe plastic here. Teflon's probably also ok.
posted by gensubuser at 8:45 AM on September 11, 2009

SmallParts might be a good place to look.
posted by gregr at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2009

McMaster may not sell plastic rod in that size, but they have plastic tubing with OD's in that range.
posted by waxboy at 8:48 AM on September 11, 2009

I dunno - I had a six-year-old barbell fall out a few months ago, and by the time we found it (about thirty minutes later) the piercing was already too tight to put through by myself. I had to go to a shop, where they used a taper to get it back in. NOT recommended.

I would check out the craft store, the beading section. They have all sorts of round, flexible plastic cords in lots of different gauges.
posted by peachfuzz at 8:52 AM on September 11, 2009

Yep, I was going to suggest fishing line as well. Maybe there is a kite string that will work?

Maybe if you went to an ACE or TrueValue style of hardware store, they'd have the right kind of whipper-stock.

Plastic toothpicks? Drink stirrers? Tennis racket string?

And Lucite is totally my safeword now.
posted by gjc at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2009

by the time we found it (about thirty minutes later) the piercing was already too tight to put through by myself

Wow. I stand amazed. Definitely find some plastic.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:59 AM on September 11, 2009

Pretty much any piercing shop should have 10ga plastic barbells that you can wear for your MRI.
posted by Jairus at 9:00 AM on September 11, 2009

If all else fails, you could try slipping in a 12ga or 14ga plastic tongue retainer for the procedure. Even if you lose some of the size, you'll be able to stretch back up. It hurts a bit, but you'd probably prefer that than being repierced if the hole closes.

Good luck and heal well—update this thread with details, if you can.
posted by kwaller at 9:01 AM on September 11, 2009

even hot topic has 10g plastic tongue retainers a lot of the time, so i would keep looking at shops. i don't believe no one in your area carries them. you could also use plastic 10 gauge tapers, if you can hunt those down. they're a little more cumbersome, but they'd do the trick. i had to have surgery a couple months ago and had to take all my jewelry out as well. leaving out some of my ear piercings for less than 24 hours forced me to get the jewelry tapered back in and i would NOT have wanted to do that with my nipples (i used 14g tongue retainers for those). i'm not sure whether yours would start to heal after an hour or so of being out, but i've heard of stranger things. everyone's body is different.

good luck on the quest!
posted by itsacover at 9:11 AM on September 11, 2009

Go get a labret or septum retainer in glass or plastic. This septum retainer or this labret retainer should do the trick quite nicely. If none of your local shops carry these items, call BMEShop and see if they can ship it to you quickly. Best of luck!

(Anecdotal: I took out my 10ga nipple piercings and they closed up to the point of being too tight for jewelry within half an hour.)
posted by bedhead at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2009

Find some plastic. I took out my 5 year old labret piercing to eat a McDonalds hamburger and it had closed completely by the time I'd finished the meal.
posted by fire&wings at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2009

When taking care of patients who need anesthesia for their MRIs I have used plastic IV catheters for this purpose. The largest commonly available size is 14g which might be smaller than is ideal in your case but better than nothing and should be easily available in a hospital. The fact that they are hollow and somewhat flexible makes it really easy to put the jewelry back in in most cases.
posted by TedW at 9:25 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you can make it up to San Francisco, Braindrops has glass retainers. Call them to make sure they've got what you need in stock, but I've purchased them there before.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:25 AM on September 11, 2009

I've had my 10ga nipple piercing since for ten years and I've gone months without anything in there and have had no problems putting jewelry back in. I feel like a bit of a freak now.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2009

Classical guitar or ukulele strings perhaps?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2009

Would the plastic ink tube from a disposable pen be too large?
posted by orme at 10:51 AM on September 11, 2009

Before you go through all this trouble -- make sure they actually have to come out. I thought my belly button ring was going to have to come out during my MRI, and so did the first person I talked to at my appointment, to the point where we were looking for pliers to get it out. Thank goodness the tech running the MRI stopped me and told me it could stay, which it did. Didn't feel a thing.
posted by cgg at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2009

I so don't believe that you tired to find something on M-C.

10g wire is around .10"

Silicon o-ring cord in an exciting red color .103" .31$ a foot:
posted by bdc34 at 12:36 PM on September 11, 2009

Loads of good ideas in here. "Retainer" appears to be the keyword I was missing.

The reason weed whacker cord was so good is because (a) it used to be utterly smooth; (b) it was stiff enough to give it a fair push; (c) you can form it with heat, (d) it came in the correct diameter for me. Being able to melt and draw the material slightly gives a bunch of advantages.

Even the Ace Hardware weed whacker cord appears to be ridged now; I'm hopeful that between the suggestion to find a retainer - which look totally do-able - and perhaps finding NOS round whacker cord or fishing line I'm covered.

posted by jet_silver at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2009

Not all metal is ferrous/magnetic, and thus not all metal needs to be removed for an MRI. Titanium nipple rings would not be a problem, for instance. You should call the imaging center and tell them what type of metal your rings are (if you know) and they'll be able to tell you whether or not it's going to be a problem.
posted by sickinthehead at 2:51 PM on September 11, 2009

My left nipple has been pierced since 1987. I have worn a ring in it maybe a total of 12 months, and nothing at all for at least fifteen years.

It's still open, I can go put something in it right now if you want.

So, keep your rings in, take them out before you go in for the MRI, and put them in when you leave. They won't close up in the few hours it takes for the procedure.
posted by Xoebe at 4:52 PM on September 11, 2009

Stiickinthehead: while non-ferrous metals will not pull from your skin, they could still heat up and cause burns and, most importantly, will interfere with the scan. Nipple rings would absolutely have to come out for a shoulder scan.
posted by brainmouse at 6:31 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Any decenthalf assed or better model railroad shop is going to have a rack of plastistruct or evergreen which will include polystyrene shapes in both tube and rod cross sections graduated by .01/.005 or less. It's also available at shops catering to architectural modellers.

Being polystyrene it is shapeable with heating and weldable with model cement. Also it's a lot stiffer than nylon weedwhacker cord though gentle heating will soften it.
posted by Mitheral at 9:18 PM on September 11, 2009

Using the keyword "retainer" I found the correct articles at GrafixPleasures in Santa Cruz.

Many thanks for the help.
posted by jet_silver at 12:29 PM on September 12, 2009

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