What is your opinion on self-done extreme mods & online sources like BME supplying information & supplies for carrying out such procedures?  
  Voice your opinion: the Reader's Response section. Return to Round Table index  

mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: CT

There's really two questions to address. The first is my opinion of self-done extreme mods. The second question is whether or not sources for information for these procedures are good or bad for giving this information to the public. Having performed my own meatotomy, I'm definitely in favor of self-done extreme mods. Putting my natural bias aside, there's more to the subject than simply "is it a good idea or bad idea".

The first thing to remember before addressing these issues is that there are very few "extreme" mods being offered by "experts" in very few parts of the world. And of the mods that one would categorize as "extreme" there's still a large percentage that aren't offered by any professionals anywhere. This draws the most important point of the entire discussion - "The majority of the people that desire these extreme mods usually have nobody to turn to that has any bona fide experience".

An argument that I've heard to this a few times is "Why not talk to your doctor first?" While on the surface this seems like a fair idea, there's also been quite a few cases of doctors questioning the mental stability of a patient that wishes to have his testicles removed "for no reason" or a digit or two. There has been more than enough people institutionalized for performing mods on themselves to make anyone fear this approach with good reason - leading them again to the conclusion that if they truly desire this mod, it's going to have to be done by them or a close, trusted friend.

Another very important point that you have to consider is that a large percentage of people that perform their own extreme mods have incorporated the process of modifying them into their spiritual practices. There are certain things in a person's life that they simply have to do for and by themselves to achieve the maximum emotional and spiritual gain from the experience.

From those points alone, you can obviously tell that I feel very strongly for allowing people to perform extreme mods on themselves if they so desire. While I feel that there is a definite need for more experienced practitioners (both in the body mod and medical industries) to begin offering a number of these procedures to the public on a limited and controlled basis, a major obstacle is the general legislature of the area that one lives in.

One thing that I need to stress is that while people should be allowed to modify themselves in the manner in which they desire, not everyone is remotely close to being qualified to perform these procedures on themselves! That, in and of itself, opens a can of worms of "who will determine if a person is capable of performing these mods" and "should someone not be allowed to perform an extreme mod on themselves if they're found not to be qualified". It's a discussion of personal rights and freedom that is probably best addressed as it's own Round-Table Question.

When all is said and done, when you're in your own home, you can (and many people do) modify yourself in any way that you desire - no matter if you're "qualified" or not based on someone's arbitrary rules. Since many people will choose to do their own mods considering they have very few other avenues to pursue such procedures, it makes perfect sense that these people will need reference materials to educate themselves as much as possible before performing potentially life-threatening procedures!

An online tutorial that not only lists the "how to" of a procedure but also many risks and dangers will never make someone remove any of their toes if they don't want to! But what it can do is make sure that someone that does desire to remove a few toes does it in the safest, most educated way possible. A government-sponsored "drug awareness" website doesn't come under fire for "encouraging kids to do drugs" but in fact is praised for trying to educate children about the potential harm that drugs can do to them. While some children might become intrigued by the effects that a drug might have on them and choose to do it despite the risks, one doesn't point out that fact because that's simply not the focus of the website -- it's to educate!

If a website such as BME publishes the "how to" of a particular extreme mod for reference and education, how can it be perceived in any different light than the government drug awareness website? I have yet to encounter a website that is trying to pressure people of any age into getting permanent, extreme body mods for any reason! If anything, virtually all of the websites that contain content on these practices first warn about the dangers in doing so and discourage people from doing them on their own in a clearly defined disclaimer before any of the procedural information is given.

If it wasn't for sites like BME providing these services, I'm certain that a lot more people would be damaging themselves a lot more frequently than they are now while simply trying to express themselves in the manner that feels right to them. It's NOBODY'S place to tell a person what they should or should not look like and likewise nobody's place to impose their opinions of what mods should be "allowed" on another person. Until the medical industries drop the social stigma that these mods are "bad", those that desire them will literally be forced to seek out underground practitioners or perform these mods themselves. It simply can't be argued that being more informed about potentially dangerous procedures is always a good thing for everyone involved!

former staff member of BME's QOD, moderator of the BME mailing list, apprentice at Stainless Studios in Toronto. Interviewed on Modified Mind.

IAM Page: aesthete

This seems to be an issue that won't go away, though more often than not it is people piercing themselves rather than surgically modifying themselves.

I think it takes a lot of learning to get to know your own body. I've only pierced myself once, but I'm lucky in that as a body artist, I have access to everything I need to do the job safely, as well as people around me who are trained professionals and can deal with anything that goes wrong. This is my biggest fear for those who modify themselves - what if something goes terribly wrong? Is the person going to be able to deal with any adverse situations? It's one thing to see somebody else bleed, and quite another to see yourself bleed in this context, especially if you are not trained to deal with such incidences.

Beside that point, I'm fairly happy to let people do whatever they want to themselves. Sure, somebody else may make the procedure run more smoothly or give better results, but I believe the motivations for doing some of these activities is to get to know oneself. If you can't articulate to somebody else what you want (perhaps because you've never seen it before), maybe the next best thing is to undertake the procedure yourself.

I'm sure some people will bring up the 'cleanliness' issue with this topic. And while it certainly is a valid worry in this day and age of seemingly endless disease, we might all benefit from taking a step back and assessing the situation in context. By and large, the majority of self-done procedures, even performed without gloves, give acceptable results. That may be the chance you have to take, but it is still a choice. If the person doing the work is hygienic in day-to-day life, chances are the procedure will not carry out a major risk of infection.

While I would like anybody considering a heavy modification to first seek out a professional, this is not realistic. We all have different motivations and desires, and sometimes the best person to carry these out is ourself.

former staff member of BME's QOD.

IAM Page: saram

I don't consider "home surgery" to be the right path for everyone, but it could be a reasonable option for an informed modifier. I think that there are a lot of valid and important pros and cons to be considered about self-done extreme modifications.

There aren't a lot of options available to people who want extreme mods. There are many areas that don't have qualified practitioners offering the procedures. It's hard to determine which mod practitioners are truly capable of safely performing extreme procedures. And cost is also an issue -- while there are good reasons to believe the phrase "you get what you pay for," there are many procedures with hefty price tags and potentially cheaper alternatives with equally good results. Extreme mods can be very dangerous, during and after the procedures. With a practitioner's help or a do-it-yourself job, you have to accept the risks and consequences of the procedure. There's no guarantee that a "professional" will be any better or safer than your own hand. It's just about who you trust to get the job done right.

I have encountered a lot of individuals who have considered their options and risks, done their homework, and performed their own extreme mod procedures. With the right knowledge and support, it's possible for people to do their own procedures successfully. Sites like BME have helped countless people learn important information before they considered or attempted home procedures. Just because the sites have the information does not necessarily mean that they encourage such actions, but it could save someone from disaster. And removing the information could be just as disastrous, because even though the information is gone it doesn't mean that people still won't be interested in doing the procedures. They just won't have all of the help they could have had. I applaud sites like BME for gathering and sharing numerous experiences and FAQs on extreme modification. The information is very important to the decision-making process for someone interested in extreme mods, done by a practitioner or at home.

Similarly, I am glad that diverse medical supplies are available through BMEshop and other sites. It is very important that people doing their own procedures have the right tools at their disposal. Unless the items are exceptionally dangerous (and things like injectables can carry very large risks) and require a significant medical background, I think it's better for people to be able to use them on themselves rather than take the risk of using improper equipment. A scalpel is better than an Xacto for making an incision; a piercing needle is better than a sewing needle for piercing the skin. Sterile, proper implements are essential to self-done extreme mods.

I'm glad that people like you and me can buy them from BMEshop and other suppliers.

I've dabbled in self-modification, but never anything that would be considered an "extreme" mod. Any heavier modifications that I have considered would probably not be done by me. I don't feel confident performing an extensive or dangerous procedure on myself. However, I believe that many other people are more comfortable doing their own extreme mods. It's not the job of a site like BME to tell people what they should and should not do, but rather to help them gather all of the information available and make the best decision possible about their bodies and their lives.

former leader and webmaster of the Young Modders Alliance.

IAM Page: freakshow54

While I do believe in self-piercing, I think, almost inherently, your extreme mods should not be performed by yourself. There are too many risks involved for almost anyone to do this safely. The people who are capable of doing this safely will be able to provide all the precautions they need to (they will also be able to make the call as to whether they can do it safely or not), however people who aren't experienced enough won't know to take these precautions, and may put themselves at very high risk (read: in the hospital, or dead).

However, I wouldn't say that companies such as BMEshop are exactly "in the wrong" for carrying supplies to perform these mods. We are mainly talking about scalpels here. There are many mods that are done with scalpels, and some of them are not particularly advanced (cutting off keloids, minor scarification, etc.), and while I think that the average person shouldn't do these, I don't think that they are (in most cases) putting themselves at severe risk by doing so. Although, I think that selling supplies such as scalpels, sutures, surgical scissors, surgical staplers, etc. to the average person should be done with caution. If at all, I think there should be a quantity limit, in order to prevent people from setting up "home studios" and butchering their friends.

I, in no way, think there is anything wrong with extreme mods. They are just that, extreme. The word extreme in itself suggests there is risk involved. Very often with extreme mods, you risk permanantly damaging your body, or even death. I don't think the average person can accurately assess, let alone handle any possible complications associated with the extreme mod they are getting. Personally, I don't think uneducated guesswork should EVER be used with an instrument such as a scalpel is in your hand.

mod enthusiast.

IAM Page: Dragon Slave

Everyone at one time or another in their youth, tried the old safety-pin through _____ technique. However, as extreme body modification becomes a tad bit more mainstream (at least to its Internet audiences,) the 'I wanna try that' syndrome has been increasing.

I won't claim I know everything about everyone who has tried extreme mods/ear piercing in their home, but I do know how a few bad and good 'experiments' turned out. I've seen my share of keloids, blow-outs, minor infections, and rejections, and I know how extremely bad they can get if not cared for properly.

I guess the question that comes next is does the person want to just get it done or done correctly? That's just how it is in the modified community-- some people can take on even standard mods better than others. I strongly suggest not doing it yourself-- but again, I've even been guilty of things I should not have done.

People with stronger modifications such as full body concepts, tongue splits, etcetera I find to be treasured people in our community-- not to mention the professionals accomplishing such beautiful works of body art! Some people are even nice enough to post exactly what they've had done, and share their experiences with any and all who are willing. Do the research, talk to people that are willing to help you out, I'm always up for talking with people. In the end, hopefully, Fate will take its course as to who does what with your body-- remember in the end it IS your choice.

As for online sources supplying and instructing on such procedures, it's good to know others are providing such a gold mine of information. Not everyone knows how a tattoo is suppose to go, or the healing time on a navel piercing, and it's always nice to have another person's personal view of things. I do feel there is an experimental couple out there waiting to try new things, or even take their relationship to an even stronger level of trust. If they are too embarrassed to go to their adult fetish store, and find their first sounding tools online, so be it. As long as there are people out there comfortable to buy such supplies, I won't complain. Besides, I'm too chicken to buy most of that stuff myself.