Wafaa Bilal

In body modification, an implant is a device placed under the human skin for decorative purposes. Such implants may be subdermal (beneath the skin) or transdermal (partially below and partially above the skin). In the context of body modification, some may consider injections of silicone and other substances a type of implant as well. Some types of implants may be performed by doctors or other medical professionals, while others are performed by body modification artists.

Examples include collarbone piercing, deep chest piercing, eyeball implants, flesh stapling, genital beading, magnetic implants, and scrotal implants. A clavicle or collarbone piercing is a very deep piercing that passes beneath the collarbone, and therefore enters the body cavity. These are highly prone to rejection as the collarbone placement is a high movement area.

A deep chest piercing is a long piercing that passes under the skin of the chest and may be several inches long. An eyeball implant, or extraocular implant, is a cosmetic implant involving a tiny piece of decorative jewelry which is implanted within the superficial, conjunctiva of the human eye. Such implants are illegal in the United States, and are currently available only in the Netherlands. A flesh staple is a type of piercing jewellery or implant in which the middle, rather than the end of the jewellery is exposed when worn. The jewellery resembles a staple, the ends of which pierce the skin and hold the item in place. A flesh plate works on the same principle, but has a different shape, resembling a flat plate rather than a staple. Flesh pocketing achieves a similar effect to flesh stapling and plating, but with a lower rate of success.

Genital beading (also known as yakuza beads, love beads or pearling) is a process in which beads or other small objects are implanted beneath the shaft skin of the penis, or into the labia. Genital ribs are short, slightly curved rods of various materials such as stainless steel, titanium, teflon, or silicone placed under the shaft skin of the penis. For horn implants, small pieces of Teflon or silicone are inserted beneath the skin of the forehead, giving the appearance of small horns. These can be gradually replaced with larger and larger pieces as the skin stretches, creating larger horns. The first set of horn implants were done by Steve Haworth on The Enigma. Steve Haworth invented this type of modification. He currently uses silicone for his horn implants.

Magnetic implants are an experimental procedure in which small neodymium magnets are placed under the skin (usually the fingertips) mostly for the purpose sensory experimentation, in which the movement of the implant in the presence of magnetic fields can be felt by the individual. Such implants can, in this way, be employed to convert non-human sensory information, such as sonar/distance, into touch. They have been proposed to be used to attach things such as eyeglasses or jewelry to the skin, but in practice this has turned out not to be feasible, as the skin is damaged by being crushed against the magnet. A scrotal implant is an implant placed into the scrotum. The implants may be designed for this purpose (for example, Neuticles), or be of any implant-grade material.

Subdermal implants, objects inserted under the skin, are used in medical applications such as pacemakers and the Norplant contraceptive. There is also historical evidence that some tribal cultures would insert stones or metal underneath the skin for ritualistic purposes. In the early 90’s, body modification artist Steve Haworth conceived of inserting 3D art implants in various shapes under the skin to create a decorative appearance. He started with surgical steel and moved on to teflon and then carved silicone, and now uses injection-molded implant-grade silicone that he produces. Other artists have since manufactured silicone implants using water jet cutting or ‘cookie cutter,’ but these often have undesirably sharp edges which can damage the skin. Subdermal implants are usually installed by creating a hole in the skin which is expanded to allow insertion of the object, and then sutured closed. Magnets and RFID transmitters have also been implanted in humans using this method.

A surface piercing is a piercing that travels beneath the surface of the skin (on the arm, for example) rather than through a protruding portion of the anatomy such as the earlobe. Surface piercings can be placed on nearly any area of the body, provided they are not subject to too much movement or the risk of impact damage or infection from contact with contaminants such as dirt. A surface piercing should be done with high grade titanium in a staple shaped bar. Curved barbells or straight barbells put too much pressure on the entry holes for them to be suitable. Once a surface piercing bar is in it is recommended that you do not attempt to remove or change the staple shaped bar yourself & a highly trained & experienced piercer should do it. Surface piercing is being replaced by microdermals & skin divers, which last a lot longer and are less likely to reject.

A transdermal implant (or percutaneous implant), also known as a microdermal implant or surface anchor, is an implant incorporating a flat plate that sits beneath the skin with an externally visible portion incorporating a bead, spike or other item that appears to float on the surface of the skin. Due to the fact that the skin is held open by the metal and fistula must form around it, similar to a piercing on a larger scale, healing can sometimes be difficult or lengthy. If the practitioner is skilled and the person receiving the modification takes good care of it, it can have a high success rate. The first transdermal implant was a ‘Metal Mohawk’ performed on Joe Aylward by Steve Haworth in 1996.

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