Body modification (or body alteration, called body mutilation by detractors) is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or phenotype. It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons. In its most broad definition it includes plastic surgery, socially acceptable decoration (e.g., common ear piercing in many societies), and religious rites of passage (e.g., circumcision in a number of cultures), as well as the modern primitive movement.
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.
Body piercing, a form of body modification, is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewellery may be worn. The word piercing can refer to the act or practice of body piercing, or to an opening in the body created by this act or practice. Although the history of body piercing is obscured by popular misinformation and by a lack of scholarly reference, ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms by both sexes since ancient times throughout the world.
Ear piercing and nose piercing have been particularly widespread and are well represented in historical records and among grave goods. The oldest mummified remains ever discovered were sporting earrings, attesting to the existence of the practice more than 5,000 years ago. Nose piercing is documented as far back as 1500 BC. Piercings of these types have been documented globally, while lip and tongue piercings were historically found in African and American tribal cultures. Nipple and genital piercing have also been practiced by various cultures, with nipple piercing dating back at least to Ancient Rome while genital piercing is described in Ancient India c. 320 to 550 CE. The history of navel piercing is less clear. The practice of body piercing has waxed and waned in Western culture, but it has experienced an increase of popularity since World War II, with sites other than the ears gaining subcultural popularity in the 1970s and spreading to mainstream in the 1990s.
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism and comprises a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs. By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life. These cells are organised biologically to eventually form the whole body.
Surface piercings are any body piercings that take place on the surface sewn into the body through areas which are not particularly concave or convex, where the piercing canal transverses a surface flap of skin, rather than running completely through a piece of body tissue from one side to another. A surface bar follows the plane of skin, while a standard piercing is pierced through the plane.
Sometimes surface piercings are difficult to heal, because, as the body rejects the body jewelry as a foreign object, the jewelry is pushed to the surface, causing the piercing to grow out (also called rejection). Proper placement and jewelry selection by an experienced body piercer can help alleviate this problem. A well done surface can last anywhere between 3 months, several years or indefinitely.
A navel piercing (also referred to as a belly button piercing or an umbilical dip piercing) is a type of piercing located in, or around, the navel. It may heal quickly and with no problems, like an ear piercing, or may heal more like a surface piercing with the associated extended healing time. Healing usually takes less than six months, and as long as it is cleaned, it will heal nicely. Unlike most body piercings, this is one of the few that do not normally reject, although the rejection rate is higher than non-surface piercings, such as ear piercings.
The actual navel is not pierced when a navel piercing is performed. The most common form of navel piercing is through the upper rim of the navel. A true navel piercing requires the person being pierced to have an "outie" navel to some degree, and is getting more popular these days. This kind of piercing is popular with, but not exclusive to females.
A Christina piercing, also known as a Venus piercing, is a female genital piercing. It is located where the outer labia meet, below the pubic mound. Unless the recipient has an extremely sympathetic anatomy, Christinas are usually considered surface piercings and have a high rejection rate. Due to anatomical variation, it is not possible with every woman. The piercing does not facilitate sexual stimulation and can be found uncomfortable when pressure is applied, for example when wearing tight pants.