Living3 extreme body modifications dangerous for your health

3 extreme body modifications dangerous for your health


We could define extreme body modifications as those changes in the anatomy of people made voluntarily. They are spectacular, exaggerated (with respect to the norm and canons of today’s society), irreversible and permanent. They also call it body art and it is something that goes beyond the normalized and relatively tolerated tattoos and piercings .

What kind of body modifications are there?

Currently, among the most frequent body modifications we find tattoos, piercings, scarifications, skin implants and dilations of the earlobes.

But there is another range of slightly more extreme body modifications such as tattooing the tongue and eyes, amputating the nose, ears, fingers and lips, tattooing the entire body, including the face, dental modifications, genital modifications , etc.

There are people who start and literally can’t stop, losing even the human aspect. Some examples are: Michel Faro do Prado ( Devil Prado , the Human Satan), Anthony Loffredo ( The Black Alien Project ), Rico Ledesma ( The Orc ) and Aydin Mod ( The Dark Barbie ).

Body modifications have been carried out for aesthetics or ethnic or religious rituals for millennia. Others are performed sexually. And others have been discovered relatively recently. The debate of what is normal is served. There are those who think that some of these modifications could be classified under the umbrella of some mental disorder already described. For example, the desire of some people to want to amputate arms or legs.

We are going to review 3 extreme body modifications and their possible consequences on health at the time of the procedure, if the procedure is complicated or in the long term.

1.- Eyeball tattoo

The eye tattoo is done with a hypodermic needle with which the ink is injected with two or three punctures. It is not done with any type of tattoo machine for the skin. The same ink is used as for skin tattoos since there is no special ink on the market for the eyeball .

The theory is that they inject the ink between the conjunctiva (the outermost and transparent layer of the eye) and the sclera (the next layer, which gives it its white color and supports the structure of the eye). But it is practically impossible to accurately make the puncture where they say they apply it.

As with any tattoo on the skin, we have to take into account that there may be a reaction to the components of the ink , although currently the metals they contained are being replaced by less harmful organic and vegetable pigments. In addition, there are regulations and national and European legislation that establishes the restriction of the use of more than 4,000 dangerous chemical substances in inks . Therefore, it seems that this aspect of the dangerousness of the substances in the inks is controlled.

The first eyeball tattoo dates back to 2007. It is currently a procedure that is gaining popularity, but… Are eye tattoos dangerous?

What are the consequences of tattooing your eyes?

There are testimonies of people who have had their eyes tattooed and who say that in the long term there are no complications, but they do say that they are more sensitive to light in the first few weeks. In fact, the scientific publications that describe cases with complications related to this technique, such as the one carried out by Naoum et al, state that “there is not enough information available on the complications of eye tattoos”.

But these same cases published in the scientific literature include multiple complications : penetration of the ink beyond the sclera (with penetration into the eyeball), migration of the ink (cases of migration to the optic nerve and surrounding areas of the face), severe inflammation, retinal detachment, glaucoma, traumatic cataract, vision loss, and uveitis .

Naoum et al. also describe immunological reactions, both local and systemic, related to pigments . And even a chronic immune response that can lead to malignant tumors and irreversible damage to the sclera. In fact, cases of vision loss are difficult to document, but it is believed that they can occur in the long term due to all these derived problems.

Finally, add one more consequence of the eyeball tattoo: it can affect the evaluation of the eye in certain diseases in which the eyes change color (conjunctivitis, jaundice).

2.- Forked tongue

We could say that the tongue is a muscle, but in reality it is made up of more than ten muscles. It is attached to the mandible and hyoid bone through its root. In addition, there are nerves and blood vessels in it, such as the lingual artery and different veins.

It is a part of the body with multiple functions. The main one is to recognize flavors (through the taste buds), textures and temperature. This function is aimed at protecting us by locating food in poor condition. It also plays a very important role in the immune response against pathogen attack as it forms part of Waldeyer’s lymphatic ring together with the tonsils.

It also intervenes in chewing and swallowing, helps us in the grinding of food and prepares the food bolus to be swallowed. Thanks to it we can pronounce words and make sounds .

What is a forked tongue?

It consists of the language being divided into two parts. This circumstance may exist due to congenital or hereditary causes. But in the case of body modification, a cut will be made that divides the tongue in two, from the central part to the tip. The result is that the tongue takes on a reptilian and surprising aspect , because then the two resulting parts can move independently.

The cut is made with a scalpel or with a laser under local anesthesia. And, as with any skin incision, there is a risk of skin infection. In the case of the tongue, this risk increases because it is the mouth, an unclean place full of bacteria due to food intake. In addition, our phonation, pronunciation, breathing could be affected and, in the long term, produce dental and palate changes.

There are people who perform this surgery on themselves with the consequent risk of infection . In addition, the monitoring of the wound and healing should be supervised and controlled by professionals. There is also the risk of damaging a blood vessel during this intervention, and having a hemorrhage.

In the case of this body modification, we find the only one discussed in this article that could be reversible. The two parts could be joined again, but this procedure could also have complications and it is not guaranteed that the result will be fully functional again.


There are cases of people who amputate their nose, lips and ears for cosmetic purposes only. In this way, the ability of the auditory pavilion to capture vibrations and sounds and direct them towards the auditory conductor is lost. In the case of the nose, the first protection against substances and molecules contained in the air we breathe. And in the case of the lip, we lose affect the function of the orbicularis oculi muscle, the so-called kissing muscle, which allows us to kiss, drink and play instruments.

Regarding finger amputation, the most widespread practice is the amputation of the ring and/or little fingers. About this practice it should be said that it seems that those fingers have no function. But the hand forms a whole in which each part counts . Grasp these two extended fingers with your other hand and try to make a fist. You will see how the grip strength you make with the other three is greatly reduced compared to a normal hand. This is because the fingers share nerves, muscles, and tendons .

Hand sensation may also be affected. It is normal for hypersensitivity and intolerance to cold to occur after the amputation of one of the fingers .

If we go into the amputation of arms or legs, there is little more to explain. Any physical therapist will tell you that no prosthesis replaces the mechanics of a normal ankle or leg. People who suffer a leg amputation require rehabilitation and relearn how to perform the basic tasks of daily life in this new circumstance. The remaining leg must support the full body weight and the overall mechanics of the human body are affected.

Is this where the fine line is crossed between body modification, aesthetics, the freedom to do what we want with our bodies, and mental health? In these cases of extreme amputations, it would be necessary to assess whether we are facing a disorder of the identity of bodily integrity.

What is bodily integrity identity disorder?

According to Rovira, we are facing a ” psychiatric disorder because of which the person who suffers from it suffers from an urgent need or desire to amputate some healthy areas or extremities of his body , without any type of sexual component or motivation.” These people ” even refer to a certain feeling of envy towards those people who have an amputated limb “. And they can even harm themselves so that doctors have no choice but to amputate the limb.

There are many more extreme body modifications and many famous and well-known cases of people doing them. By sharing these practices through social networks, they reach more people than the small circles that reached before. Therefore, these extreme body modifications are expected to spread. The BME community, Body Modification Ezine , has been active since 1994 and compiles on its website a large database of photos and even a kind of Wikipedia about the body modification community. There really are things much more extreme than what is explained in this article.

Apart from the ethical and moral debate and the freedom of each individual, two important key messages should be emphasized. The first, the realization of some of these practices is prohibited in certain countries. If they are carried out, they should be carried out by personnel experienced in them. On the other hand, health professionals should be aware of the potential complications of these procedures.


Jewell, T. (2019, junio 28). Tongue splitting: Procedure, risks, benefits, cost, and more. Healthline.

Naoum at al. (2020). Scleral tattoo: Case report. French journal of ophthalmology. DOI:

Netter, F. (2019). Atlas of Human Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Rovira. (2018). Body Integrity Identity Disorder: What Is It?

Smith, D.G. (2007). Medical Director’s Notes: Partial Hand Amputations.

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