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.
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.
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.
A tongue piercing is a body piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue, and is the fifth most popular piercing site in the western world after the ear. Standard tongue piercings, or one hole in the center of your tongue, is the most common and safest way to have your tongue pierced.
A lip piercing is a type of body piercing that penetrates the lips or the area surrounding the lips, which can be pierced in a variety of ways.
Approximate healing times for most lip piercings are between 1 to 3 months, however there is a possibility of serious infections developing if the piercing is not taken care of. After healing is complete, other jewelry may be used. After this time, some scar tissue may be present, but the fistula is normally fully developed and mostly healed. Aftercare consists of hot saline soaks two to three times daily. Soaking the wound for three to five minutes with a weak saline solution softens any blood and lymph discharge attached to the jewelry. Afterwards, taking a hot shower and using clean hands and a small amount of a mild soap such as castile soap removes excess matter from the site. Turning or otherwise moving jewelry on a fresh piercing is not advised, as it can irritate and lengthen swelling and healing time. Diluted mouthwash or salt water solution can also be used after meals along with toothbrushing to help remove debris and flush the piercing and is recommended by practitioners.
A pubic piercing is a genital piercing in the pubic area, on the mons pubis in females, or at the base of the penis in males. It is similar to the Christina piercing. Healing times and pain factors are similar to a Christina, at around 3–4 months. The rejection rate is around the same as well - that is, higher than most "conventional" (nose, ear, tongue) piercings, because it is a surface piercing. Some men who have sex with natal women get this piercing because it can offer direct stimulation to the clitoris during intercourse. The placement is at the bottom of the pubic mound just above the penile shaft. Usually, the jewelry inserted is a custom-made surface bar, used to give the best chance of healing.
As with most piercings, the healing time varies depending upon depth of piercing and the level of activity that the piercee maintains. For a subject who has a healthy diet and low activity, a healing time of 10–12 weeks can be expected.