Body modification

Types of body modification

Explicit ornaments

Body piercing – Permanent placement of jewelry through an artificial fistula; sometimes further modified by stretching

Ear piercing – The most common type of body modification

Dermal anchoring Similar to transdermal implants, giving the appearance of a small bead on the skin
Pearling – Also known as genital beading

Neck ring- Multiple Neck rings are worn to stretch the neck.

Scrotal implants
Eyeball tattooing – Injection of a pigment into the cornea.

Extraocular implant (eyeball jewelry) – The implantation of jewelry in the outer layer of the eye.

Surface Piercing – A surface piercing is a piercing where the entrance and exit holes are pierced through the same flat area of skin.

Microdermal implants
Transdermal implant – implantation of an object below the dermis, but which exits the skin at one or more points

Surgical augmentation

In contrast to the explicit ornaments, the following procedures are primarily not meant to be exposed per se, but rather function to augment another part of the body, like the skin in a subdermal implant.

Breast implants – Insertion of silicone bags filled with silicone gel or saline solution into the breasts to increase their size, or to restore a more normal appearance after surgery

Silicone injection
Subdermal implant – implantation of an object that resides entirely below the dermis, including Horn implants
Removal or split

Hair cutting

Hair removal

Male circumcision – the partial or full removal of the foreskin, sometimes also the frenulum–conversely some men choose to take up foreskin restoration.

Female genital cutting – removal of the labia minora or the clitoral hood

Genital bisection – splitting of both the underside and the top of the penis, including Genital inversion
Meatotomy – splitting of the underside of the glans penis

Headsplitting – splitting of both the underside and the top of the glans penis

Nipple removal
Nipple splitting
Nullification involves the voluntary removal of body parts. Body parts that are removed by those practicing body nullification are for example Fingers, Penis (penectomy), Testicles (castration), Clitoris, Labia or Nipples. Sometimes people who desire a nullification may be diagnosed with body integrity identity disorder or apotemnophilia.

Subincision – splitting of the underside of the penis, also called urethrotomy

Lingual frenectomy
Tongue splitting – bisection of the tongue similar to a snake’s

Trepanation, drilling a hole into the skull
Applying long-term force

Body modifications occurring as the end result of long term activities or practices

Corsetry or tightlacing – binding of the waist and shaping of the torso

Cranial binding – modification of the shape of infants’ heads, now extremely rare

Breast ironing – Pressing (sometimes with a heated object) the breasts of a pubescent female to prevent their growth.

Foot binding – compression of the feet of girls to modify them for aesthetic reasons

Anal stretching
Non-surgical elongation of organs by prolonged stretching using weights or spacing devices. Some cultural traditions prescribe for or encourage members of one sex (or both) to have one organ stretched till permanent re-dimensioning has occurred, such as:

The ‘giraffe-like’ stretched necks (sometimes also other organs) of women among the Burmese Kayan tribe, the result of wearing brass coils around them. This compresses the collarbone and upper ribs but is not medically dangerous. It is a myth that removing the rings will cause the neck to ‘flop'; Padaung women remove them regularly for cleaning etc.

Stretched lip piercings – achieved by inserting ever larger plates, such as those made of clay used by some Amazonian tribes.


Branding – controlled burning or cauterizing of tissue to encourage intentional scarring

Ear shaping (which includes Ear cropping , Ear pointing or “elfing” )

Scarification – cutting or removal of dermis with the intent to encourage intentional scarring or keloiding

Tooth filing


The head of a man with conspicuous tattoos and other body modifications

Some sources of controversy stem from the notion of attempting to artificially beautify the natural form of the body, often leading to charges of disfigurement and mutilation. Extreme forms of body modification are occasionally viewed as symptomatic of body dysmorphic disorder, other mental illnesses, or as an expression of unchecked vanity. Unlicensed surgery (i.e. the plastic surgery field) performed outside of a medical environment can often be life-threatening, and is illegal in most countries and states.

“Disfigurement” (a subjective term) and “mutilation” (regardless of any appreciation this always applies objectively whenever a bodily function is gravely diminished or lost, as with castration) are terms used by opponents of body modification to describe certain types of modifications, especially non-consensual ones. Those terms are used fairly uncontroversially to describe the victims of torture, who have endured damage to ears, eyes, feet, genitalia, hands, noses, teeth, and/or tongues, including amputation, burning, flagellation, piercing, skinning, and wheeling[citation needed]. “Genital mutilation” is also used somewhat more controversially to describe certain kinds of socially prescribed modifications to the genitals, such as circumcision, female circumcision, castration, and surgeries performed to conform the genitals of individuals with intersex conditions to those of typical males or females[citation needed].

Individuals known for extensive body modification

Rick Genest, has had his entire head and torso tattooed so as to appear like a human skeleton

Pete Burns, had extensive polyacrylamide injections into his lips, along with cheek implants, several nose re-shapings and many tattoos

Elaine Davidson, the “Most Pierced Woman” according to the Guinness World Records.

The Enigma

Lolo Ferrari

Julia Gnuse (“The Illustrated Lady”)

Cindy Jackson, had more cosmetic surgery procedures than anyone else in the world

Katzen (“Cat woman”)

Tom Leppard, formerly considered by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the world’s most tattooed man.

Erik Sprague (“The Lizardman”), with sharpened teeth, full-body tattoo of green scales, bifurcated tongue, and recently, green-inked lips

The Scary Guy, his nose, eyebrows and ears are pierced and tattoos cover 85 percent of his body.

Lucky Diamond Rich, holds the Guinness world record as “the world’s most tattooed person” as of 2006

Hao Lulu, extensive cosmetic surgery in 2003 to alter her appearance, tagged “The Artificial Beauty”

Horace Ridler (“The Great Omi”), tattooed in a pattern of curved black stripes, often described as zebra-like

Pauly Unstoppable, the first person to get the white of their eye tattooed

Stalking Cat (“Cat man”)

Stelarc, got a cell-cultivated ear implanted into his left arm

Jocelyn Wildenstein (“Lion Queen/Cat Woman”)

Fakir Musafar, having exposed himself to body piercing, tightlacing, scarification, tattooing and suspension

See also


Attraction to disability


Blood ritual

BME, a large website devoted to body modification


Fakir Musafar, the grandfather of body modification

First haircut


Suspension (body modification)




^ What is body modification?

^ Dermal Anchoring – BME Encyclopedia

^ Scrotal Implant – BME Encyclopedia

^ Microdermal – BME Encyclopedia

^ Silicone Injection – BME Encyclopedia

^ Horn Implant – BME Encyclopedia

^ Genital Frenectomy – BME Encyclopedia

^ Inversion – BME Encyclopedia

^ Nipple Removal – BME Encyclopedia

^ Nipple Splitting – BME Encyclopedia

^ Jamie Gadette. “Underground”. Salt Lake City Weekly. 

^ Tongue Frenectomy – BME Encyclopedia

^ Shannon Larratt. “nullification, the voluntary removal of body parts”. BMEzine. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 

^ Shannon Larratt (March 18, 2002). ModCon: The Secret World Of Extreme Body Modification. BMEbooks. ISBN 0973008008. 

^ Adam Callen. “What is TOO Extreme for Body Modification?”. Ezine Articles. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 

^ Anal Stretching – BME Encyclopedia

^ Ear Shaping – BME Encyclopedia

^ Ear Cropping – BME Encyclopedia

^ Ear Pointing – BME Encyclopedia

^ Tooth Filing – BME Encyclopedia

^ Freak: Encyclopedia II – Freak – Made freaks

^ “Guinness World Records – Human Body – Extreme Bodies – Most Pierced Woman”. Guinness World Records. 2001-08-09. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 

^ Lucky Diamond Rich is now acknowledged as the world’s most tattooed person. Guinness World Records. “Most Tattooed Person”. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 

^ Windrow, John. (September 1, 1998) Star Tribune. The Scary Guy brings a message of the spirit. Section: Variety; Page 1E.

^ Guinness World Records, Most Tattooed Person,, retrieved 2007-05-07 

^ Masters, Paul (27 February 2008). “See world’s first eyeball tattoo”. The Sun. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 

^ Performer gets third ear for art BBC News. Last Updated: Thursday, 11 October 2007, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK

External links

The Official Body Modification Organization

New Zealand Body Modification Community

Pictures of scarification in Africa – Features by Jean-Michel Clajot, Belgian photographer

Body Modification E-Zine Encyclopedia entry showing various inappropriate uses of ear piercing instruments

Body Modification E-Zine article on the Studex System 75

Church of Body Modification

The Scary Guy’s Website

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Body piercing

General piercing topics

Contemporary piercing practices  Scalpelling  Stretching  Play piercing  Pocketing  Surface piercing  Ear piercing gun

Jewelry (materials)

Barbell  Claw  Captive bead ring  Flesh tunnel  Plug  Prince’s wand  Spiral  Stud  Nose chain  Nipple shield

Ear piercings

Tragus  Antitragus  Snug  Daith  Conch  Helix  Rook  Industrial

Facial and oral piercings

Cheek  Eyebrow  Anti-eyebrow  Lip (Labret  Lip plate  Lip frenulum  Monroe  Medusa)  Nose (Bridge)  Tongue (Tongue frenulum)  Uvula

Body piercings

Corset  Hand web  Hip  Madison  Navel  Nipple  Nape  Wrist  Neck

Unisex genital or anal piercings

Anus  Guiche  Pubic  Chastity

Female genital piercings

Christina  Clitoris  Clitoral hood  Triangle  Fourchette  Isabella  Labia  Nefertiti  Princess Albertina

Male genital piercings

Ampallang  Apadravya  Hafada  Foreskin  Deep shaft  Dolphin  Dydoe  Frenum (Frenum ladder)  Lorum  Magic cross  Prince Albert  Reverse Prince Albert  Transscrotal

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