Body Art or Self Mutilation?

Cutting Done on Chest
Cutting Done on Chest
Stretched Ear Piercing
Stretched Ear Piercing

Web Producer: Jason Beisel

Tattoos and piercings are becoming more and more popular these days.

Chris Jennings does body piercings at Earthborn Studios and has some studs and rings of his own. He's also had his earlobes stretched and something more rare, cutting done on his chest. "It's aesthetically pleasing to me. It does hold some value for me, some meaning for me inside myself. That's for me," Jennings says.

It was done with a surgical scalpel by someone he says he trusts. That same person who lives in New Albany also does tongue splitting.

Studies show this is a sign of much more, according to one Evansville doctor. "Are there drugs? Is there substance abuse? What other things are you doing that's risky like these behaviors," Dr. John Honnigford says.

He says you're just asking for trouble if you pierce or cut your tongue because of all the bacteria inside your mouth. He also says it's teenagers who are the most likely group to have it done and the least likely to find a reputable place to do it.

"Do they wear gloves? Do they wash their hands? Do they use disposable goods? Disposable goods are the safest. Disposable everything, disposable needles, disposable inks are much safer. And do they have a working functional autoclave?," Dr. Honnigford says.

They do at Earthborn Studios. Chris Jennings says he takes the same precautions with his clients that he would if it were him in the chair. "We are professionals. Contrary to popular belief, we're not just sitting in our basements sticking holes in people. We really care about what we do," Jennings says.

He also knows there are less qualified and less careful body piercers out there. His advice; if you want a body modification, research the procedure for at least six months. Talk to other clients about the studio and the artist's reputation. And he says, save the heavy body art for people in the business who know the risks.

An Evansville city ordinance requires body piercers and tattoo artists to have CPR, first aid and blood born pathogen training. The studios are inspected before they open and then once a year. Otherwise, there are no other credentials or licensing required.

For more information about the safety of tatoos click here.

For more information about the safety of body piercings click here.