Have you ever wanted a third arm? Or real-life wolverine claws perhaps?
The types of body modification that you’re likely most familiar with are piercings, tattoos, and plastic surgeries. However, as within most outlets of expression, there are always extremists. The Big 10’s video on 10 of the most extreme and strange body modifications is certainly bound to give you goosebumps. Viewer discretion is advised.
From subdermal implants that look like devil horns to real-life wolverine claws, it’s safe to say that these body modification procedures take it to the next level.
So are these procedures based on the principles of real medical surgeries? Not quite. While they’re performed by "body modification artists,” these artists tend to operate out of piercing and tattoo parlors, without any medical expertise. In fact, Dr. Anthony Youn, a board-certified plastic surgeon and contributor to CNN, wrote that extreme body modification procedures are almost never performed by actual physicians, and that he’s “never heard of a single plastic surgeon who's admitted to performing extreme body modification.”
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Basically, people who undergo extreme body modification likely endure the procedure with no anesthesia since no professional doctors are involved.
As Dr. Youn describes it, “Want to fork your tongue? Take a swig of whiskey, apply some ice, and try to stay still while the body modification artist slices it in half.” Yikes.
What about the whole mindset of body modification — what exactly is it that compels people to undergo these extreme procedures to change their appearance? On a more obvious level, it is the desire to stand out or make a statement, however Dr. Youn speculates that there may be some underlying psychiatric issues as well.
One of the more famous cases of extreme body modification was that of Dennis Avner, a man who spent years trying to make himself look like a cat. He got facial tattoos, implanted whiskers, and filed his teeth into long cat fangs — many people speculated that he suffered from a psychiatric condition called body dysmorphic disorder. About a year ago, Avner was found dead in an apparent suicide. Dr. Youn reports that body dysmorphic disorder has a “very high rate of suicidal ideation.”
To some, extreme body modification is an art, while others deem it as “body mutilation.” Youn’s word of advice as a board-certified plastic surgeon is to think very carefully before making extreme modifications to your body. “Surgical procedures should be performed in a sterile medical environment under the hands of an experienced surgeon. Things can go wrong even under the best of circumstances.”