beautiful woman with blue hair and extreme body mods
Photo: imustbedead

Body modification is essentially a process where you can change something about your appearance in a semi-permanent or permanent way. These practices usually mean that you have to put your body through certain amounts of pain and endure the subsequent healing process. But the impact of these daring modifications extends far beyond the individual. 

Extreme body mods spark conversations about identity, acceptance, and the ever-evolving definition of what it means to be human. There are many other reasons why people decide to get body modifications, most of which boil down to making their appearance align with their perception of themselves. Having a modification can also amp up any look to an alternative one, even a simple black dress.

What Are Extreme Body Mods?

Extreme body modifications refer to alterations made to the human body that go beyond conventional practices such as ear piercings or tattoos (these can be extreme too). Extreme mods include a large number body body-altering practice that involves trained practitioners pushing your body to its limits to achieve a certain look. These modifications often involve more invasive and irreversible procedures such as hand poke tattoos, dermal or surface piercings, ear and skin stretching, implants, and surgical changes – like plastic surgery.

dermal implant on women's chest
Photo: 2Face-Tattoo

How Do These Modifications Tie Into Your Subculture?

What it comes down to, is how much you like this modification, not about whether or not this type of modification fits into your subculture. Most subcultures won’t take any issue with bodymods, so you don’t have to worry about clashing with your aesthetic

However, certain modifications do form part of numerous indigenous cultures with long histories and reasonings for these practices.

A few things to consider, before diving in...

Before picking a body part for your next tattoo or split, there are a few important things you should consider. This is a serious decision that requires careful planning and understanding. Here are some factors to think about before undergoing any extreme body modification:

  • Do your research:

Before you make an appointment to have any changes done to your body, you need to do a lot of research about the type of modification you want done, practitioners that can aid with it, the length of the procedure, how much pain is involved, how to prepare, history of the modification. This will make sure that you are properly prepared for your modification.

  • Understanding your pain tolerance levels:

Your pain tolerance level and your pain threshold will be able to determine how many of these modifications you can undertake. It will also determine when you should stop, take a breather, and continue.

  • Legal and Ethical Considerations: 

Be aware of the legal and ethical aspects of the modification. In some places, certain extreme body modifications may be illegal or fall into a legal gray area. Consider how these modifications might impact your life, including potential professional or personal consequences.

  • Potential Reversibility: 

Understand the permanence of the modification. Some extreme modifications, such as scarification or subincision, are irreversible. Consider whether you are comfortable with a permanent change to your body.

stick-n-poke indonesian tatooo
Photo: Labskiii

What Are the Most Popular Extreme Body Mods?

Extreme body modifications can vary widely, and what is considered popular can change over time and across different subcultures. Here are some examples of extreme body modifications that have gained attention and popularity:

  • Piercings

The most acceptable piercings are for ears and the nose area, but more and more piercings have become acceptable as the years go by. Now it is common to see eyebrow piercings, lip rings, and tongue piercings. Some people pierce other spots on their bodies, including genitalia and nipples.

  • Tattoos

Getting a tattoo is extremely common these days, and it is still considered to be a body modification. Most surface areas of the body can be tattooed, and it is common to note areas like the arm, back, legs, ribcage, and chest areas be tattooed. Some people have gone to extremes and tattooed their eyeballs and every possible inch of their body.

  • Stretching

This practice is commonly done to the lobe part of the ear. People use tapers to gradually stretch their ears from a normal earring hole size up to however large they want the earring hole to become.

Some people practice a method called dead stretching, whereas others buy a kit and gradually move up a size to prevent a blowout and cause damage to the skin on the earing hole. While smaller sizes or gauges can return to normal, there is a point of no return where the skin will never contract back to pre-stretching size.

Jewelry used for stretching can be found for any style, and it is a matter of finding the right jewelry that fits your aesthetic. Especially the ears, there are many different designed expanders, plugs, tunnels, and weights that you can choose from.

  • Dermal implants

Dermal implants or surface piercings are piercings that are on the surface of the skin. They are single-point piercings, as they are embedded in the skin and there is no exit point. They are on flat areas, like the cheekbone and collarbones.

Some people get corset piercings, which are dermal piercings using hoops in two parallel lines. The piercings then have a ribbon threaded through the hoops to resemble the lacing of a corset.

  • Teeth Filing and Sharpening

In some cultures, filing or sharpening teeth has been a traditional practice for both aesthetic and symbolic reasons. For example, in Bali, the ritual of "potong gigi" involves filing down canine teeth to mark the transition to adulthood and symbolize the shedding of childish traits. 

Another interpretation is teeth filing for purely aesthetic purposes. This is typically an extreme body mod practice and can involve filing grooves, patterns, or even applying gems or other embellishments to the teeth.

  • Surgical Mods

These types of modifications include the forked splitting of the tongue known as tongue bifurcation, reshaping of the ears to resemble elves, and implants of jewelry that are much larger than regular dermals. Ridges are a practice where jewelry is inserted under the skin’s surface, so the area appears raised.

man getting a tattoo on his leg
Photo: Angela Rosado

Extreme Body Mods: Healing and Aftercare

It's important to remember that any kind of body modification, even as insignificant as an ear piercing, carries risks and should be performed by trained professionals in a sterile environment. Always prioritize safety and informed decision-making if considering any form of body modification.

Additionally, various body modifications require different aftercare and healing time. Thorough cleaning, careful handling, and patience will reduce the chances of infections setting in. If you do not take care of these modifications, you can end up with a lot of unintentional damage done to your body that you may not be able to cover up or return to pre-modification. 

Most of these modifications can leave permanent scar tissue, which is why a lot of thought and consideration needs to be put into it, and not endeavored through an off-the-cuff decision.


Body modifications are an intense way to make permanent changes to your body. A lot of thought and care needs to be taken when choosing to get any of these practices mentioned above – including piercings and tattoos. Some of them can have lifelong effects, so do your research and make sure to take proper care of your body modifications. After all your search for uniqueness should be always backed up by professional knowledge.