Tattoos and piercings are often considered pretty run-of-the-mill these days; it’s not unusual to see people with eyebrow piercings or tattoos covering a large area of their body. As a result, more extreme forms of body modification have begun to emerge. But, are there health risks involved with these extreme body modifications (aside from how painful they look). Below are some of the most extreme body modifications along with information about their potential dangers and complications.
This body modification procedure is one of the simpler ones available today, but its results are just as visually shocking. Tongue splitting involves cutting the tongue down the middle from the tip to partway into the mouth. The tongue is then cauterized with a laser and each side is sutured up so that the tongue won’t heal back together. The result is a somewhat snake-like tongue with two tips. Possible dangers of this process include:
- Improper healing: The tongue may not heal separately if the tongue isn’t sutured up correctly.
- Bleeding and infection: There’s a chance for excessive bleeding and potential infection, especially when a laser isn’t utilized for cauterization.
- Eating and speech issues: Having a split tongue can potentially create problems with eating, drinking and speaking.
- Reversal side effects: The tongue may lose sensation and become scarred when the procedure is reversed.
Earlobe stretching, which is sometimes referred to as gauging, is a process by which the earlobes are made to be larger and larger over a period of time. This is done by inserting “gauges” or disks into an ear piercing after an initial piercing is stretched with a piercing stretcher. Once the piercing stretches to accommodate the disk, a larger disk is inserted to continue the stretching process. This continues until the earlobes are quite large.
One possible complication of this body modification is the inability to reverse the procedure. It can be very difficult to reverse earlobe stretching and get the same appearance as before the stretching occurred. In some cases, the ears can be stitched back up. In more severe situation, surgery is needed to reverse the process.
Also commonly known as 3-D body implants, this procedure is becoming more and more common. The procedure involves taking an object and placing it under the skin to create a raised visual appearance. Examples of this include creating the look of raised vertebrae in the back or horns on the temples. There are subdermal implants that are completely underneath the skin as well as transdermal implants which stick out through the skin. Possible dangers of body implants include:
- Rejection: The body may reject the implant and actually push it back out through the skin. This may occur as a result of the type of material the implant is made of (common materials used for body implants are Teflon, titanium and solid silicone).
- Infection: Any time the skin is opened, there is a risk for infection. However, having an object actually placed in the skin creates an even higher risk for infection to occur. This is especially true for transdermal implants.
- Nerve damage: Certain body implants have caused damage to the nerves, which can ultimately lead to the loss of muscle function.
If you’re thinking of the type of branding used on horses, cows and other farm animals, then you’re pretty much spot on. The process of branding is basically intentional scarring. It is usually performed by placing hot metal on the skin to create a certain design or lettering. However, it involves the following risks:
- Irreversibility: It can be extremely difficult to reverse this procedure since the scars are usually very severe.
- Infection: The risk for infection is generally higher with branding than with tattooing because of the amount of exposed skin involved and the lack of regulations on the procedure itself.
Piercings of the clitoris and the penis have become more commonplace in recent years. This process involves piercing a certain area of the genitalia, often with the hopes of increasing sexual stimulation. Unfortunately, there are some dangers associated with this procedure, including:
- Loss of sensation: Both females and males may lose sensation in their genitals if the piercing is not performed correctly. This may even result in the ability to climax or maintain an erection.
- Increased risk of infection: Some individuals may experience an increased risk of urinary tract infections due to their genital piercing. It’s important to have the piercing performed in a sterile environment and to learn how to clean the piercing properly.
In general, it’s important to keep in mind that regulations for newer forms of body modification may still be forming. Therefore, it’s critical to do your research on not only the potential dangers of any body modifications you’re considering but also the artists and vendors who are offering these types of services. In addition, all of the body modifications above involve a risk of infection, bleeding, pain, allergic reaction and a long healing process, so it’s important to consider those side effects in addition to the potential dangers and complications of each individual procedure.