What is Body Mod? History, Types, and Availability

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen


Body mod (or body modification) is a broad term for temporary or permanent physical alterations. Body mod may include minor changes, like ear piercings, or more dramatic changes, like tongue splitting.

Body mod plastic surgery is fascinating. Dr. Katzen offers procedures to patients interested in either temporary or permanent body modifications.

Today, we would like to take a deeper look into body mod to help patients understand its history, popular types of physical alterations, and Dr. Katzen’s services.

Portrait of famous Dennis Lang

Portrait of famous Dennis Lang with his face full of tattoos and piercings.

Body Mod History and Types

Some people consider body mod shocking. However, most people have undergone some form of physical modification. For example, many people have pierced ears and tattoos, and these practices have long histories spanning thousands of years.

Indeed, almost 50% of millennials and 40% of Gen Xers have at least one tattoo. Also, almost 70% of people with tattoos have more than one tattoo. With tattoos becoming more mainstream, more people are moving on to more radical body modification procedures.

Man with piercings on his neck

Man with piercings on his neck.

Other forms of body mod include:

Scarification - Scarification is popular among dark-skinned individuals for whom tattooing is not visually compelling. Scarification is the act of purposefully making a scar. Scars are placed in a pattern, design, or lettering to achieve the desired look. Often, these scars are purposely disturbed to promote localized infections and excessive scarring or keloids. A key example is the Chambri Crocodile Tribe of Papua New Guinea, who purposefully scar their skin to appear like a crocodile. Scarification is common in Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia and is part of many tribes’ traditional rites.





Source: Body modification. (2023, January 18). In Wikipedia.

  • Branding - Similar to scarification, branding is permanent. Historically, branding was once a form of punishment. In the 1500-1800s, many criminals were branded on their faces for certain crimes. However, today branding is practiced in many cultures, including several all-black fraternities in the United States, like the Omega Fraternity.

  • Implanting - Seamen in the South Pacific and the Japanese Yakuza have participated in implanting body modifications for hundreds of years. Implanting is commonly requested in piercing studios today, and many plastic objects in the shape of stars and crosses are inserted under the skin on the face and body. In western society, plastic surgeons regularly perform chin, breast, calf, and other implant procedures. Additionally, patients may request silicone implants to produce a desired outcome, like reptile-appearing skin.

  • Tongue-splitting - Splitting of the tongue has been performed for thousands of years among the people of the South Pacific. During this procedure, the body of the tongue is cut or split. People have their tongues split for many reasons including aesthetics, to be “different,” and able to perform certain oral sex acts. Erik Sprague, the Lizardman, is credited with popularizing tongue splitting.

Tongue Splitting

Tongue Splitting

Source: Tongue splitting. (2022, December 24). In Wikipedia.

  • Smoothies or nullos - This extreme practice of body mod involves the elective removal of the genitals for sexual and/or aesthetic reasons. One of the more famous nullos is Mao Sugiyama. In 2012, he had his genitals and nipples removed to promote asexuality and gender equality. During a public banquet and post-operative ceremony, attendees ate the removed genitalia and nipples with button mushrooms and Italian parsley!

Unusual body mods that were once considered “hardcore” are now becoming more common. Ear pointing and genital modifications are two examples some plastic surgeons offer.

Plastic Surgery Body Mod Procedures

Dr. Katzen offers several body modification procedures. Often, patients do not consider plastic surgery as a form of body mod, but it is by definition.

Nipple and belly button remova

Nipple and belly button removal.

Dr. Katzen’s 31 year old male patient who underwent nipple and belly button removal. The photo on the right is one year after nipple and belly button removal. Before and After Gallery - Dr. Katzen

Nipple Removal

Many men and women desire nipple removal. The desire to remove one or both of your nipples is a personal choice. However, many men have their nipples removed to decrease their nipple sensitivity.

Many men would rather have their nipples removed than tell their partners not to bite or pinch them. Other patients have their nipples removed to have this area completely smooth. They do not want to feel anything when they run their hands across their chest. Other patients desire an androgynous look.

Belly Button Removal

Belly button removal surgery is another popular body mod procedure. Removal is much less common than umbilicoplasty, which changes the appearance of the belly button. However, Dr. Katzen has performed complete belly button removal for some patients.

The naval collects dirt and can breed bacteria if not cleaned regularly. Some body mod proponents advocate for removal to avoid frequent infections. However, others choose belly button removal because they desire modifications and want to look “different.”

If a belly button removal procedure interests you, Dr. Katzen will discuss your wishes.

Buttock Implants

Buttock augmentation, or gluteoplasty, involves enhancing the buttock with silicone implants. Men and women desiring a more pronounced rear end may benefit from butt implants.

Dr. Katzen has performed many butt implant procedures and will discuss your options during your initial consultation. Dr. Katzen will help you choose the best silicone implant shape and size to complement your derriere.

Buttock Implants

Buttock Implants

Before (left) and after (right) pictures of a female patient in her late 20’s. Dr. Katzen performed buttock implants to fix the dents in this patient’s buttocks. Buttock Implants - Dr. Katzen

If you have lost weight and your buttock’s appearance has changed, buttock implants may be a good option.

Calf Augmentation

Patients with thin, shapeless legs or asymmetrical calf muscles may be good candidates for calf augmentation surgery. However, calf augmentation is a unique plastic surgery procedure that many plastic surgeons do not offer.

Dr. Katzen uses silicone implants to create a more dramatic muscle definition in the calves and achieve a more symmetrical, more muscular calf appearance. Calf augmentation can be performed on one or both calves, depending on your preferences.

Dr. Katzen will meet with you to discuss your options and make recommendations if you are interested in calf augmentation.

Cheek Augmentation

As we age, we lose facial fat. Hollow or sunken cheeks contribute to an older appearance. As a result, some patients may look older than they are. Cheek augmentation can help them look younger. This procedure may be done with either silicone cheek implants or injectable fillers.

Dr. Katzen is very sensitive to the individual needs of his patients. Schedule a consultation if you believe that cheek augmentation may be right for you. Dr. Katzen will discuss your options and recommend the treatment he feels is best to meet your expectations.

Chin Augmentation

Chin augmentation is another body mod procedure for men and women with recessed lower jaws. Chin augmentation is a plastic surgery procedure that helps create a more defined profile by accentuating your jawline and profile.

Dr. Katzen offers both surgical and nonsurgical chin augmentation procedure options. He may recommend injectable fillers or silicone implants based on your goals for your facial/chin profile.

Dr. Katzen may recommend a genioplasty if your jaw is small and you want it to be larger. This plastic surgery involves cutting the bone from the jaw and advancing the chin to achieve your desired look.

Contact Dr. Katzen for a Body Mod Appointment

As body modification has increased in popularity, Dr. Katzen has added many standard procedures to his services. In addition, Dr. Katzen is very interested in listening to patients’ concerns about their bodies and the alterations they are considering.

Many people want their bodies changed. When considering body mod, please seek an experienced, plastic surgeon. Although these procedures may look easy to perform, you should never attempt to perform these procedures by yourself. Serious complications like bleeding, infection, and even death can occur.

As a top plastic surgeon, Dr. Katzen is among the best in his field. He strives to surpass every patient’s expectations and has a proven track record of success.

Dr. Katzen offers in-person and virtual consultations. He can meet virtually via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp. Dr. Katzen has offices in Beverly Hills, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and Dubai UAE.

Please call (310) 859-7770 to schedule your consultation.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.