Body piercing: medical consequences and psychological motivations

Lancet. 2003 Apr 5;361(9364):1205-15. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12955-8.


Body piercing is increasing in popularity around the world. In this review, I describe the history, origins, and peculiarities of various forms of body piercing, and procedures involved, variations in healing time, legal aspects and regulations, and complications and side-effects. I have also included a discussion of the motivation for and psychological background behind body piercing. In presenting research results, I aim to raise awareness of the many risks associated with body piercing. In presenting psychological data, I intend to create an understanding of the multifaceted and often intense motivations associated with body piercing, and, thus, to diminish any prejudices held by health professionals against people with piercings.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / adverse effects
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / history
  • Cosmetic Techniques* / statistics & numerical data
  • Ear
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies* / complications
  • Foreign Bodies* / epidemiology
  • Foreign Bodies* / psychology
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nose
  • Punctures* / adverse effects
  • Punctures* / history
  • Punctures* / psychology
  • Wound Infection / etiology*