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 Art or mutilation?

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trevvy99

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Number of posts : 82
Registration date : 2008-01-31

PostSubject: Art or mutilation?   Thu Mar 27, 2008 8:52 pm

Art or mutilation?

BEAUTY isn't just skin deep anymore. For a small community in Singapore, it's under-the-skin deep.

Tattoos and piercings aren't enough for them. This is definitely not for the squeamish: What they do is customise their flesh with 'body jewellery'.

Implants of silicone or Teflon beads are inserted under their skin, forming raised designs and patterns.


Yes, it is very painful, and also potentially hazardous to their health as infections can easily set in. Yet that has not deterred 28-year-old Alexx Ng, whose 10 or so friends all have such implants.
He has three rows of Teflon beads and a star-shaped silicone implant under the skin of his right arm.

The 18 beads, each the size of a 50-cent coin, were inserted one by one after an incision was made and a metal rod pushed through to separate the layers of skin. The procedure was not done by a medical practitioner, but by someone he calls a 'travelling body artiste' in Thailand.

It's not quite what you would expect a self-employed investment agent to sport.
Yet strangers who scold him for disfiguring his body get a bigger shock when he opens his mouth: He has two titanium tooth implants in the shape of fangs (see top pic).

Ng, who comes across as a shy, mild-mannered guy, says the fangs were done by a dental surgeon in Singapore.
As for the implants, he got them done three years ago after stumbling on a 'body modification' community website that sparked his interest.

Spending over $1,000 on all the implants, he says it was a 'friendship price' that the artiste charged him. Normally he would have expected to pay over $2,000.

'I don't really know why I did it. I'm not an attention-seeker. I just started talking to people on the site and got into it,' he adds.
He says that when the 'body artiste' did his implants, anaesthetic was administered, but it didn't help. He says: 'There was a lot of blood. On a scale of one to 10, I'd rate the pain as 11.'

Indeed, this procedure - the medical term is subdermal implanting - is supposed to be a surgical one. However, a check with the Ministry of Health, National Skin Centre and Health Sciences Authority showed that there are no regulations on the procedure.
But dermatologists LifeStyle spoke to strongly discourage it.
Dr Derrick Aw, a consultant from the National University Hospital's Division of Dermatology, says while subdermal implants are used for medical reasons, such as pacemakers, only trained health professionals should perform these operations.

'Risks of anaesthesia complications, wound infection and the body's immune reaction to the implant may occur,' he says.
Similarly, Dr Chua Sze Hon, senior consultant dermatologist from the National Skin Centre, says there are multiple health risks involved, including the damage of blood vessels, adverse reaction to the implants and scarring.

But some tattoo artistes tell LifeStyle that they are considering offering the service. None offer it at the moment.

Nor Aidil, 31, a body artist from Primitive Art Piercing & Tattoo at Far East Plaza, is thinking of going to Australia and the United States to learn the technique.

He says: 'It's not like piercings or tattoos where you can just do it every day and learn from it. I won't practise something I'm not sure of on my customers. If it's not done properly, it (the implant) will start to protrude more and more.'

Another tattoo artist, who asked not to be named, says he is in the midst of learning the procedure and makes frequent trips to Australia to learn from body-modification experts. He plans to offer this service in the next few months.

One of those who believes the procedure should be done by a trained surgeon is renowned plastic surgeon Woffles Wu. However, he does not discourage it.

'If a patient is mature about it and understands the risks, then I have no objection to performing it on someone.'
Dr Wu has removed a few of these implants - ball bearings from the penis and the eyebrow - saying that the wounds were inflamed and infected.

He says that he has been approached to perform the implant procedure but declines to say whether he has done it.

As for Ng, though he covers up with a long-sleeve shirt when he works, 'sometimes when I go to the coffee shop to get food, the aunties scream at me in Hokkien, saying I'm crazy. When I take the MRT, I get people pointing and staring'.

When he goes out with his friends who also have the implants, they often get stopped by the police. He says: 'They check our bags and test us for drugs, but we're not hooligans. We're not doing anything illegal.'

In fact, he is planning to amputate the tip of his pinky next. He explains: 'I don't see a need for it, I don't use it.'
He adds: 'People see me as a freak but I'm just a normal guy with a normal job.'
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