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Look at Me

November 11th, 2013

Extreme tattoos and distortion of the body by means of one or more surgical procedures is generally referred to as body modification. An entire website is devoted to the practice is here.

Individuals turn to extreme measures to alter their appearance through multiple procedures such as tattoos, piercings, skin stretching, facial clefting and subcutaneous implants trying to achieve a unique facade or persona.   Erick Sprague, or the Lizardman represents the full expression body modification, including full-body tattoos of green scales and a bifurcated or split tongue.  All of these procedures are done in specialized salons or studios, outside the regulation of medical practice. Most often, these modifications consist of actual surgical procedures and seem to go unnoticed by the officials. This type of body modification might be viewed as practicing medicine without a license. By and large, most physicians have chosen not to be involved in the realm of body modification. These extreme changes in physical  appearance are beyond the norm for our culture in America.

Although these cases may represent a variant of body dysmorphic disorder,  I believe many individuals enjoy the attention, even seek it out.   They do the outlandish procedures to get attention, pure and simple.  They like being looked at.  In fact, Lizardman has used his manufactured appearance and the attention it garners, to make money from personal appearances as a performer.

I am trying not being judgmental. Many well-adjusted patients choose cosmetic surgery for many of the same reasons. Pop media culture has cultivated the Look at Me mentality. In fact, most people do care what they look like and strive to look their best. In my opinion, it is the extreme end of the body modification spectrum that might suggest unconventional reasons to seek out an appearance outside the accepted norm.

Read more: Dr. Bashioum’s interview in Star Tribune article, and Dr. Bashioum on KARE 11 TV  about ear gage repair.


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