Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 6, pp 379–385 | Cite as

Body piercing

Medical concerns with cutting-edge fashion
  • Laura M. Koenig
  • Molly Carnes
Clinical Review


OBJECTIVE: To review the current information on medical complications, psychological implications, and legislative issues related to body piercing, a largely unregulated industry in the United States.

METHODS: We conducted a MEDLINE search of English language articles from 1966 until May 1998 using the search terms “body piercing” and “ear piercing.” Bibliographies of these references were reviewed for additional citations. We also conducted an Internet search for “body piercing” on the World Wide Web.

MAIN RESULTS: In this manuscript, we review the available body piercing literature. We conclude that body piercing is an increasingly common practice in the United States, that this practice carries substantial risk of morbidity, and that most body piercing in the United States is being performed by unlicensed, unregulated individuals. Primary care physicians are seeing growing numbers of patients with body pierces. Practitioners must be able to recognize, treat, and counsel patients on body piercing complications and be alert to associated psychological conditions in patients who undergo body piercing.

Key words

body piercing ear piercing complications of body piercing 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura M. Koenig
    • 1
  • Molly Carnes
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of Wisconsin Hospital and ClinicsMadison

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