In one of the most comprehensive health examinations of body piercing, researchers have found that the wildly popular fashion statement is relatively safe although about 20% of piercings become infected.
Northwestern University dermatologists analyzed the overall safety, complications and medical consequences of piercings, focusing on the ear, nose, mouth, nipple, navel and male and female genitalia. They found infections, although treatable, were the most common complication, followed by allergies, loss of blood, scarring and interference of medical procedures, such as X-ray or ultrasound.
The study was undertaken because of a project at the Rehabilitation Institute in Chicago that's exploring the use of magnetic tongue studs to assist people with quadriplegia in using computers and operating wheelchairs. But the safety of a tongue stud is an important question.
"Who knows what other anatomic sites for piercings could be used in the future?" Dr. Julia Minocha, a co-author of the paper, said in a news release. "If a sensor in the tongue can be used to drive a wheelchair, other devices that we haven't even thought of yet might also work."