Radical Body Modification: Cat Man

Now that tattoos are no longer shocking and seem to be on track to be commonplace in mainstream pop culture, some people are upping the ante.  I was recently interviewed on KARE-11 TV about the trend of Ear Gaging. The latest trends in radical body modification probably appeal to people wanting to push the limits.  Dennis Avner, typifies this extreme and is the Nevada man who spent years trying to look like a cat (pictured here). Avner underwent a series of radical body modification procedures to  transform his body into  a female cat.

Avner’s operations have included bifurcation (splitting) of his upper lip, surgically pointing his ears, silicone cheek and forehead implants, tooth filing, tattoos, multiple facial piercings, getting whiskers implanted and making a mechanical tail.   It is unclear whether Avner was ever evaluated for any mental disorders, but the extreme nature of his transformation may have suggested problems.  He died at the age of 54 by an apparent suicide.

His surgeries were done by Steve Haworth from Phoenix, Arizona,  an artist and pioneer of body modification techniques. Steve Haworth is responsible for the invention and popularization of subdermal and transdermal implants. Haworth is the subject of the 2007 documentary Flesh & Blood by director Larry Silverman. The industry is largely unregulated and although surgical techniques are often used to accomplish this fringe body modification, people seeking procedures are deemed clients, rather than patients.

In spite of hazards due to these procedures being done outside the medical community, the trend remains a popular sub-culture. Body modifications are often difficult to reverse and sometimes require several expensive plastic reconstructive surgeries to accomplish returning to a former appearance. While I admit that cosmetic surgery does fall into the category of body modification, I would recommend caution when proceeding with any radical forms body modification.

Photo: Courtesy Belle News






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