16 Unbelievable Examples Of Extreme Body Modification

Body Art, Lists, Shocking, Weird

With large tattoos being so popular these days, and standard piercings not as shocking as they once were, it takes a lot of body modification to really stand out from the crowd. No longer will a fully inked sleeve and a pierced nose/lip/eyebrow make people stare in amazement at you in the street; if you want that effect now, you have to start considering some extreme mods: Transdermal and microdermal implants, forked tongues, saline injections, scarification… the human body can now be customized to an incredible extent.

But who are the people that have taken the art of body modification to its limits? And what are the most extreme procedures ever seen in this field? Whether done for artistic or self-expression, shock value, aesthetic reasons, or religious beliefs, here are 16 of the most unbelievable examples of extreme body modification.

Lucky Diamond Rich – World’s Most Tattooed Man

Lucky Diamond Rich (born Gregory Paul Mclaren) currently holds the Guiness Book of records title as being ‘The world’s most tattooed person’, with an incredible 100% of his body covered with ink. That includes the inside of his eyelids, mouth, and intimate areas. Rich is a performance artist, whose talents include sword swallowing and a mastery of the unicycle.

Lucky admits to being a obsessive-compulsive, who, in 2003, decided he wanted to become the world’s most tattooed man; a feat which he achieved in a mere two years. Now that his entire body is covered with ink, Rich is having a white design tattooed over the top of all that black, and is subsequently adding coloured tattoos on top of the white!

Cathie Jung – World’s Smallest Waist

Not all body modifications involve piercing the skin in one way or another. Here is Cathie Jung, holder of the Guinness Book of Record’s title for having the world’s smallest waist, measuring an unbelievable 15 inches in diameter while wearing her corset (which is apparently 24 hours a day!) Even on the rare occasions when Cathie isn’t in her tightly laced up clothing, her waist is still an amazing 21 inches in diameter.

This feat of waist shrinkage was achieved by gradually decreasing the size of the corsets Cathie has worn over the years. As she’s been doing this for over 50 years now, it’s understandable how she’s managed to achieve such an eye-popping figure. Although the practice isn’t without it risks: the continual shrinking of the waist causes the internal organs to move around in order to find more space. It can also result in the lungs being squashed to a smaller than normal size, making breathing difficult. The things people endure in the name of fashion.

Rick Genest – Zombie Boy

You probably have a feeling that you’ve seen Rick Genest, a.k.a. The Zombie Boy, somewhere before – and you probably have. As well as his numerous TV appearances and interviews, he’s best known for appearing in the Lady Gaga music video for Born This Way, as well as the Keanu Reeves movie 47 Ronin.

He may not be the most inked person in the world, but it’s his iconic corpse tattoos which cover most of his body that have helped launch his media and fashion career. Before his body art helped him achieve worldwide fame, Rick worked in various sideshows and freakshows across Canada as an illustrated man, fakir, geek, and also as a self-declared clown.

As if being an actor, performer, and male model isn’t enough for one person, Rick is now working on a music career with former Rob Zombie guitarist Riggs.

Maria Jose Cristerna – Vampire Woman

35-year-old former lawyer Maria Jose Cristerna claims it was a history of domestic violence – which she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband – which caused her to re-invent herself as the vampire woman.

The Catholic-raised mother-of-four had her titanium horns implanted into her head, stating they are a representation of strength. She also had her fangs added and eyes altered to make her resemble the vampires which so loved so much as a child.

So what’s next for Maria? Even more implants on and around her head and face, more tattoos, and more piercings.

The Women Of The Kayan Lahwi Tribe

For the female members of the Kayan Lahwi tribe in northern Thailand, the brass rings they are famed for wearing in order to give the impression of having an elongated neck has led to the nickname of the giraffe women.

It is a fact that although the women do seem to possess unnaturally long necks, they are actually not lengthened at all. This giraffe-like appearance is caused by the heavy, brass hoops pushing down on the collar bone and compressing the rib cage. It is this deformation of the clavicle that gives the illusion of having a stretched-out neck.

There are several theories as to why this practice takes place; these range from making the women seem more attractive to men, to alternatively making them appear less attractive, and even that the hoops give them a resemblance to a dragon – an important figure in the tribes folklore. When asked, they women simply claim it is part of their cultural identity.

Synthol Injections

If you would like to have comically huge, pillow-like bulges in your arms, then you need a dose of synthol injections. This oil, which is a mix of fatty acids (mostly coconut oil), lidocaine, and benzoyl alcohol, is injected directly into the muscle tissue and stays there for years, slowly being broken down by the body. As well as making you look like Popeye, this process can have terrible side-effects, including destruction of the muscle tissue which the synthol is injected into.

Unlike steroids, synthol will not increase strength, endurance or muscle mass. It is merely cosmetic. Although quite why a person would want to look this way is a mystery. It’s certainly not going to make people admire their bizarre physique, rather it will make them question if the swollen body parts are a result of an allergic reaction to something.

Eyeball Jewellery Implant

As terrifying as it may sound, this is in fact a real thing. The quite recent – and still fairly rare – process of implanting jewellery into the eyeball is one that will have many people squirming. The operation involves making a small incision and dividing a pocket in between the sclera – the white part of your eye – and conjunctiva clear part of your eye. Then, using forceps, the jewellery is placed into the pocket and the eye is left to heal.

This kind of body modification is still highly controversial. It has not been approved by the FDA, while the American Academy of Ophthalmology is advising against the procedure; they fear the implant could allow bacteria to get beneath the conjunctiva causing a serious vision-threatening infection or possibly erode the sclera.

Kala Kaiwi – Largest Non-Surgically Made Stretch Earlobes

Kala Kaiwa, also known as the Hawaiian Mutant or The Horned Man, currently holds the world record for having the largest non-surgically made stretch earlobes, which measure 109mm in diameter. The owner of a tattoo/piercing salon in his native Hawaii, Kala has 75% of his body covered in ink. He also has various subdermal and transdermal implants, a tattooed eyeball, numerous piercings, and a split tongue – a procedure he did himself using dental floss!

As well as his split tongue, Kala did the majority of his other body modifications himself. Although having his own salon has obviously helped him achieve this impressive – if scary sounding – feat.


The slightly terrifying process of scarification involves some form of scratching, etching, burning, branding, or superficially cutting designs into the skin. An even more extreme practice that sometimes comes with scarification is the method of aggravating the wound after the initial scarification has taken place, this is done to create a thicker, deeper and more pronounced scar.

Scarification naturally carries many risks. Whoever is creating the scar needs to have a good understanding of what they are doing. As well as the high risk of a life-threatening infection, it’s also important not to cut too deep, burn the skin too long, or have a brand heated to a temperature that is too high.

Scarification has its roots in tribal markings. It is often used as a rite of passage for the tribe members, or even to mark milestones in their lives – reaching puberty or entering into marriage for example.

Ear Pointing

If you ever had the urge to look like Galadriel the elf from Lord Of The Rings, then ear pointing could be the body modification for you. Otoplasty – the surgical and non-surgical procedures for correcting ear deformities and defects – is a common practice, but this recent type of body modification – which involves altering a non-defective ear into a pointed shape – is still quite rare to see, but it is starting to gain popularity.

The most common way the ear pointing surgery is performed is to remove a small wedge-shaped portion at the top of the ear, and then suture the two edges.

The woman in the picture above, Melinda Moon, is one of the most famous possessors of elven ears. The Canadian model claims she wanted the ears due her love of the Lord Of The Rings, and her closeness to nature.

Dennis Avner – Stalking Cat

Stalking car (real name Dennis Avner) was famed for altering his appearance in order to resemble a female tiger. He at one time held the record for ‘most permanent transformations to look like an animal’.

The list of body modifications he underwent in order to achieve his feline appearance include extensive tattooing, facial subdermal implants to alter the shape of his brow, alterations to his forehead and the bridge of his nose, septum relocation, silicone injections, bifurcating (splitting the upper lip), filing and capping his teeth, ear shaping and hairline modification. While the non-surgical modifications he used to complete his transformation included wearing green contact lenses with split irises, and even going so far as to have a robotic tail.

Dennis was of Native American heritage, and puts his reasoning for altering his appearance down to the connection he felt to his totem, the tiger.

Lip Plates

Lip plates, also known as lip plugs or lip discs, have been used as far back as 8700 BC in Sudan and Ethiopia. Today the custom is still maintained by a few groups in Africa and Amazonia. The procedure is similar to the way ear lobes are stretched to accommodate increasingly larger jewellery. With lip plates, increasingly large discs (usually circular, and made from clay or wood) are inserted into a pierced hole either in the upper or lower lip, or both, thereby stretching it. Some African tribes even remove some teeth from lower jaw in order to get a better fit for the plate.

The reasons for wearing the lip plate vary from group to group. For some it is an indication of an individual’s social or economic standing within a tribe, for others it is a rite of passage, symbolising a person’s entry into adulthood.

Stelarc – The Man With The Ear On His Arm

Cyprus-born Australian performance artist Stelarc, who was Stelious Arcadiou Limassol before legally changing his name, is known for his performances that focus on the human body and his theory that it is, in fact, becoming obsolete.

Having previously used flesh-hooks in some of his acts, Stelarc decided to take his art to extreme levels. He spent 10 years trying to find a surgeon who would perform an operation to have a cell-cultivated ear surgically attached to his forearm. In 2006 he got his wish after working as a research fellow at Nottingham Trent University’s Digital Research Unit.

Stelarc’s next plan for his forearm ear is to have a tiny microphone implanted which will be connected to a bluetooth transmitter; this is so that Stelarc’s audience will be able ‘hear’ whatever his third ear can.

Foot Binding

The arcane practice of foot binding, also known as ‘Lotus Feet’, has now thankfully almost completely disappeared from its native China; there are new very few living women who still bare the deformities that the practice causes.

The process is thought to of originated in the 10th or 11th century imperial China, and involves binding the feet of young girls (between the ages of 4 and 9) to prevent further growth. This is done to such a barbaric extent that the girls’ toes break as they are curled under and forced into the soles of their feet.

The practice naturally caused many problems for those who underwent it. As well as being disabled for life, the risk of infection was extremely high – many girls even lost toes because of it. Unfortunately, it was found that if the bindings did cause a girl to lose her toes, it meant the bandages could subsequently be applied even tighter. This meant some girls who had fleshy feet would have glass or other sharp objects inserted into their wraps in order to encourage an infection, thus causing the loss of the toes, and therefore smaller and more desirable feet.

Cheek Stretching

Also known as cheek flesh tunnels, this graphic and extreme body modification is beginning to grow in popularity. The process is done in a similar way to many stretched out piercings, such as extended earlobes or lip plates. After the cheeks are initially pierced with small holes, they are slowly stretched out over time by inserting increasingly larger plugs. Occasionally the holes are incised slightly in order to make a larger increase in the diameter so as to fit the new plug.

It’s claimed having cheek flesh tunnels doesn’t affect eating and drinking as the jewellery doesn’t touch the wearers teeth. However, when it comes to liquids or soups, it’s advised to wear ‘filled in’ plugs in order to stop leaking. There are risks with this procedure. Stretching holes out in the cheeks to such an extent can pose a risk to the salivary glands. Although some may find that a small price to pay for being able to clean their teeth with their mouth closed.

Henry Damon – The Red Skull

Most kids dream of growing up to be superheroes, but instead of imagining he was Captain America, a young Henry Damon wished to become the Marvel hero’s nemesis: The Red Skull.

Now at 37, Henry has almost totally completed this transformation. His forehead and eyebrow implants may seem extreme, as does his tattooed face and eyeballs, but the most incredible procedure Henry went through to look like the comic book supervillain? Having the tip of his nose cut off!

The artist who performed this body modification is a former medical student, and assured everyone it was this training which allowed him to complete the procedure with safety. He also added that Henry wasn’t quite done with his metamorphosis yet, there was still the matter of silicone implants on the cheekbones, chin and cheeks, then getting the remainder of his face tattooed red!