Forked TongueWhy have one tongue when you can have two? Traci Joy Burleigh (not shown here) is a 38-year-old professional piercer in San Francisco who says "tongue bifurcation" is typically done in a piercing shop under sterile conditions.
But Dr. Jon Perlman,a prominent Beverly Hills plastic surgeon who has been practicing for 25 years and has turned down requests for procedures he found disturbing, says that the tongue "is a very functional part of the human body affecting speech and eating. I think anyone who wants this should undergo psychological evaluation to explain such a strong drive to stand-out from the norm, and I consider myself a fairly open minded individual."
LizardmanEric "Lizardman" Sprague, 38, a performance artist in Austin, Texas, has gone a long way to emulate his favorite beast. In addition to having his teeth filed into fangs, he's undergone piercings, tattoos, and tongue bifurcation. He's even had five ridges implanted over each eye, according to his website.
But doctors say subdermal implants, like the ridges above his eyes, can be risky business. "Hopefully all of this is being done under the most sterile conditions," says Dr. David Bank, director of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in New York. Anytime the skin is opened up, he tells CBS News, there is the potential for infection - and the risk is heightened when a permanent foreign object is introduced.
Corset PiercingCorset piercing starts with the creation of piercings on either side of the spine. Once these heal, they can be laced with ribbons and pulled taut. As with any skin piercing, corset piercing can lead to infection. And the corset piercings can be difficult to keep clean - and can create unsightly scars.
An Erotic ComponentWhy have piercings on a part of the body you can't even see - especially given the danger of scarring? Tightening the ribbons stimulates the sensitive skin around the ribcage, Traci Joy Burleigh, a professional piercer, tells CBS News. "Most people would say yes, there is an erotic component to corset piercings," she says.
Saline InjectionsFor some body modifiers - including this Japanese "club kid" found on Bizarre Magazine's website - injecting the face with salt water is a wonderfully weird and edgy way to look cool. "Injecting yourself with saline would have a temporary effect," Dr. Perlman says, adding that the swelling lasts only an hour or so, until the saline is absorbed by the body. But is the practice dangerous? Yes, if the saline is contaminated or if it were accidentally injected into a blood vessel. "You could severely damage skin and tissue," Perlman says.
Stalking CatMeet "Stalking Cat," a man who has done his utmost to resemble a tiger, which he calls his "totem." In addition to extensive tattooing, he has had his nasal septum surgically altered, his lip clefted, his ears given feline-like points, and his teeth taken out and replaced with fangs. He's even had brow implants.
Of all of these procedures, doctors say the implants pose the greatest risk. Anytime a foreign object is placed in the body, infection is a real possibility.
Iguana MikeDoctors are very leery of transdermal implants like the metal spikes on the head of Iguana Mike. These implants feature protrusions that go through the skin - opening the door for infection. They say it would be best for any such implants to be added by a doctor - but question the ethics of any doctor willing to do the procedure.
Skin StretchingRafa Gnomo, 23, used a series of progressively sized spacers to stretch the skin of his lip and nose. Some would say the Brazilian "neo-primitive" has stretched himself too thin - literally. But as odd as it might look to the uninitiated, skin stretching is considered relatively safe. In Gnomo's case, he's stretched his skin so far, it will never return to normal.
An Ancient TraditionThe skin-stretching technique Gnomo used is actually an ancient technique that's been practiced in parts of South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Suspension: Not as Painful as It Looks?Does this image make you feel faint? People who practice body suspension say it looks more painful than it really is. The hooks holding up this man were inserted into healed piercings - not stabbed through his skin. Heron Saline, 52, a San Francisco hypnotherapist, not shown here, says the piercings aren't too painful. "But what you call pain I prefer to call sensation," he tells CBS News. "It's not necessarily negative."
A Sacred Practice?Heron Saline says he has been partially suspended by hooks - though not been lifted from the ground like this photo. He says he and his friends find the practice spiritual. "The pulling is gentle and done with love," he says. "It is a sacred ritual and it's about doing it well - keeping each other emotionally, physically and mentally safe." But it would be hard to find a medical doctor who would approve this activity - infection and skin ripping are serious concerns.
Horns and SpikesDid your mother ever call you a little devil? How would you like to have some metal horns, like Sampa von Cyborg? Surgeons say that there is a high risk of infection associated with such transdermal implants.
Performance Art: Blood, Screws, Needles, and MoreSampa Von Cyborg, who owns a piercing studio in Finland, says he specializes in implants, tongue bifurcation, and scarification (purposeful scarring). On his website, he says he does performances involving "blood, screws, needles, hooks, drills, nails, hammers and guns."
Eye DyeingEye tattooing is the cutting edge. Shannon Larratt, not shown here, is the founder of body modification ezine, and had his eye tattooed blue.
As he wrote on his blog, "Admittedly it just looks like a growth/deformity and some strange spots, but I just love it".
Ophthalmologists don't love it as much. Last year, the State of Oklahoma made it illegal to color the sclera - the whites of the eyes - with strong support from the Oklahoma Academy of Ophthalmology.