Ear pointing FAIL trainwreck

My friend Arseniy from Total Ink in Saint Petersburg is doing a presentation about ear pointing so we were talking about the history of it and he asked me if I knew of any “fails”. I told him that I’d seen some points that had opened up, but I couldn’t think of anything too terrible. He was like, “you need to go look at my ‘home bod mod’ gallery.” He told me that this had been featured on ModBlog about a year ago, but I couldn’t find it in my searches, so I’ve decided to write about it again even though I’m sure many of you will have seen it before — this kind of warning can never be posted too often.


Yikes. Yikes. Yikes.

What you’re seeing in these photos is the ear of a person who decided to have their, friend an amateur body modifier, do their ear pointing because they didn’t want to spend the money to have it done by someone qualified in a studio — after all, getting an ear pointing done by someone experienced not only involves their fee but sometimes travel as well, to say nothing of patience. However, ten days later, this corner-cutter managed to get parts of their now necrotic ear amputated.

In the first photos (1A and 1B), you can see the ear being cut and folded over at an extreme angle. I should add that these photos were taken not at a clean and contamination-controlled studio, but at someone’s house, without even a proper light. They just leaned their head on the window frame for illumination, with plenty of dirt and dust visible in the haphazard workspace that didn’t appear to even have been cleaned — the space is so contaminated as to make gloves almost pointless, to say nothing of the hilariously inappropriate paper towels being used as a DIY surgical drape.

In photo 2, taken on day one, it should already be obvious that the odds of success are very low. The ear has been folded at such a comically extreme angle that the pressure on the healing tissue and cartilage would have been enormous, to say nothing of the extremely unpleasant aesthetics of the new ear shape and how difficult it would be to keep clean if it actually did heal. By day five, photo 3, the ear is starting to tear open and is quite swollen — infection has set in, made worse by insufficient care on the part of the client. By the end of the first week, photo 4, the sutures have completely torn out and the ear is back to its original shape, minus the part that was cut out of course. However, at this point the infection is well established in the majority of the cartilage. Cartilage infections spread quickly and are difficult to treat. Two days later, her ear was cleaned up at the hospital. Some cartilage was lost, but a remarkable job was done in saving the majority of the ear. Click here to see the other side two years afterwards (sorry, the angle doesn’t really show it but it’s the best I could get, and I couldn’t get a photo of the other side that matches the more damaged ear). Lest you say “well that doesn’t look that bad”, I want to mention two things — (1) this photo shows the ear in the best possible light, and (2) I’ve seen ears collapse completely from infected industrial piercings — see the BME wiki entry for “ear collapse” for more information on how easy it is to damage cartilage.

There is no excuse for this happening. Yes, mistakes happen to the best of us at times. Yes, sometimes even the most qualified among us push things too far or in the wrong direction, and a procedure fails. But there is no excuse for behaving in an irresponsible and unprofessional manner. There is no excuse for working in an unsafe and unclean environment with inappropriate tools and supplies. There is no excuse for going to an unqualified practitioner. There is no excuse for not caring for your body and not listening to your body. There is just no excuse for any of this. The body modification community has spent almost twenty years obsessively sharing knowledge online and making it easily accessible to anyone who is interested. There are many channels for education both for practitioners and enthusiasts. No matter what corner of the world a person is in, there is no reason to be making such basic errors in judgement, and behaving with such irresponsibility and abject disrespect for the artform and for the body of the client.

[EDIT/UPDATE: This entry has been edited because in its initial form it overstated the amount of damage to the ear. I've updated the entry with more accurate information, although the warnings remain valid.]

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

9 thoughts on “Ear pointing FAIL trainwreck

  1. Look at the ear jewelry the “client” is wearing. Polymer clay. Just on that fact alone, I’m not surprised this person got their ear so fucked up. Bad judgement on the “client’s” part on more than one occasion. The person who did this should be ashamed of themselves. Completely fucked up someone’s ear.

  2. Is there a link to the original posting that provides the full story? which I assume must exist based on the fact that we know the ear was removed at the hospital. While I would like to say I can’t believe someone would do this (both parties involved) I can’t honestly say that. Granted it is not exactly akin to teenagers who used to try and pierce their own noses with safety pins back in the day before quality piercing shops were so prevalent (myself included.. totally did it when I was about 13), but I think there are a lot of people that think “well that looks simple…

  3. Dear fellows!
    If anyone have some issues or pictures of fails in earpointing, please send it to me onto painm@yandex.ru !
    i’m now collecting material for ear pointing class.
    Thank you.

  4. A. Danger — It seems that aspect of the story, which was the only part I couldn’t confirm from the photos I’d seen, had been overstated. I’ve updated the entry, and you can see the result — things turned out much better than it had been suggested to me. That said, it doesn’t change the fundamental issues or warnings — do visit the ear collapse entry if you haven’t seen it before for example.

  5. I like to try out quite some things with my body at home. And quite some of that works. But this is a fairly intense and complex kind of surgery. MD’s or reputated professional body-mod artists can do that. But “a friend trying out some tools”, is a terrible idea. And then the lack of care… I cant understand. If I try out something were most of the people say it might not work, I try to take well care of it, and try to avoid neglecting it…

  6. “their, friend an amateur body modifier”

    WARN other people if they are a bad worker, getting sick of people saying “oh wow this person is doing some bad work”

    oh really who

    “oh i cant say”

    balls, grow some, before someone dies.

  7. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » Second Generation Ear Pointing

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