Dealing with Aging

One of the problems with scars is the way they change over age. Scars in general begin as red or pink wounds, staying quite dark for the first period of their existence, sometimes raising up as well (often unevenly) depending on the part of the body and the individual’s genetic. Over time, the scars lighten and fade, sometimes back to a natural color, or sometimes to a very pale color. This can happen inconsistently across the design, the result being that viewers who once saw the scar as beautiful and impressive are no longer so admiring, to put it gently.

I’d suggest that in general there are three ways to deal with this reality — first of all, to ignore it. After all, body art, especially scars, is most of an individualistic experience and what matters most is how the individual feels about the scar and that doesn’t have to change as the piece ages any more than people have to fall out of love as their spouse ages. The second way to deal with it is to use tattooing to scaffold the piece, to give it new definition as the original linework and design loses its power. I’ve posted scar/tattoo combos many times, but here’s one that was just done, the tattoo addition by Maartje Verstegen at Turnhout, Belgium’s Pirate Piercing (


The third way approach is to design a piece that looks good at all stages. You could argue that this imposes significant limitations on the artform, but on the other hand, you could say that to ignore those limitations and to treat scarification as something it isn’t (ie. scars aren’t tattoos) is the real problem. In general, this means simple geometric or repeating designs that are highly resilient to changes in the scar. A good example of this is the work of Iestyn Flye (search for him on ModBlog), normally based out of London’s Divine Canvas ( although this piece I believe was done while touring. You can also find Iestyn at the 2013 London ScarCon in May (fresh back from Kathmandu, the Nepal Tattoo Convention, right after his London scarification seminar with Ron Garza).


Healed Shoulder Scars by John Joyce

Scarab Body Arts‘s John Joyce ( has oft been featured on ModBlog (including a long interview back in 2008), but given that I’m posting scar follow-ups today, it’s a good time to feature more of his top-of-the-line work, fresh and healed. The first piece shows the scar at four months (the wearer has been previously featured here and here), and the second at seven months.



PS. Do take the time to browse his earlier ModBlog mentions for mountains of similarly brilliant work. You won’t regret it!

The Un-Friday Followup?

I know Rob made a tradition of posting scar follow-ups on Fridays, but I’ve never been good at planning things, and better at doing things when inspiration strikes, so I’m going to post a couple more followups today instead of waiting until week’s end.

This first one is “selective ink rubbing” that Brandon Pearce of Foolish Pride Tattoo Company ( in St. Petersburg, Florida did eight months ago. In these pictures you can see it fresh, then at three months, and finally as it is now, at eight months into the healing. As you can see, it’s a normal cutting, but he’s rubbed ink into parts of it (the glasses, eyelashes, and barrette/bow) to accentuate the design, a technique that he’s used in a number of scars he’s done. Click to take a closer look at any of the stages.

brandon-pearce-ink-rubbing-1t brandon-pearce-ink-rubbing-2t brandon-pearce-ink-rubbing-3t

I also wanted to show a blackwork-vs-scar sleeve that he’s been slowly building up with linework scars of vegetation like leaves and flowers. You really can’t go wrong with scars over blackwork!

brandon-pearce-blackwork-cutting-1t brandon-pearce-blackwork-cutting-2t

When life gives you keloids, make eyeballs

I think that’s how the old expression goes, right?

Ighlif Rendina, owner and piercer at H.F. Body Art in Turin, Italy, had a customer who’d previously gotten a transdermal implant. The transdermal itself did alright, but in time, a large unsightly scar built up over the insertion incision. The microdermal was removed, and the scar reworked using a combination of cutting and cautery branding. The insertion scar became the pupil of the eye, and the scar that formed in the transdermal scar was covered up by the bottom line of the eye. In the picture where you can see the entire eye, it’s quite fresh, about two months after being done, and the picture where it’s partially covered by clothing is current, showing the piece at almost two years old.

Humpback Whale White Ink Cutting

I have been watching this humpback whale scar by Brenno Alberti of BodyFactory in Trieste, Italy with great pleasure. First of all, because he’s pumped up the normal cutting over blackwork effect by a level by rubbing the cutting with white ink — I suspect this will be differentiated from normal cutting by the detail in the finer parts of the linework — but more importantly because I just love the design and it’s pristinely cut. By the way, sometimes it just amazes me how quickly scars heal — it looks so great on day three — but I suspect that with this piece the white ink is creating a bit of an illusion.

By the way, I don’t have an ink rubbing of a humpback whale, but believe-it-or-not, but I have rubbed a humpback whale. Click the pic for a closer look.

Self-Harm as Performance Boosting Aid?

There’s a fascinating article up right now by Matt McGrath, a science reporter for the BBC — Paralympic athletes who harm themselves to perform better — which discusses the effects of injury and pain on sports performance. Apparently this is especially relevant to paralympic athletes because some of the normal feedback systems that their body would have to increase blood pressure and heart rate while competing could be damaged. The practice of self-harm in sports even has a name, “boosting”, and it’s actually banned by by the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) — and has been since 1994, the year BME was founded. It is believed that perhaps a third of all para-athletes have self-harmed to boost performance.

“There have been times where I would specifically give my leg or my toe a couple of really good electric shocks” says Brad Zdanivsky, a 36-year-old Canadian quadriplegic climber who has experimented with boosting in the gym.

“That would make my blood pressure jump up and I could do more weights and cycle harder — it is effective.”

Other athletes overfill their bladder, sometimes by will, or by clamping off their catheter if they wear one. Others sit on a tack, or tightly strap their legs, or twist their scrotum or otherwise do the sort of things that would get you a free membership and jerk-off-fans in BME/HARD. Still others go as far as taking out a hammer and shattering their toe. This interesting because even though they may not be able to feel the broken toe consciously due to being paraplegic, their body still responds to the injury in ways that cause a performance increase — they are inducing what’s medically called “autonomic dysreflexia and can be quite dangerous.

“I took it a notch further by using an electrical stimulus on my leg, my toe and even my testicles.”

But boosting comes at a price.

“You are getting a blood pressure spike that could quite easily blow a vessel behind your eye or cause a stroke in your brain,” says Zdanivsky.

“It can actually stop your heart. It’s very unpleasant, but the results are hard to deny. The saying is that winners always want the ball, so it doesn’t matter if it’s unpleasant, it gets results.”

In addition to causing an increase in athletic performance, according to spinal injury researcher Dr. Andrei Krassioukov at UBC, the increase in blood pressure can also have a mood effect. He puts it simply, pointing out that people “feel better with their blood pressure higher”. I’m sure that this — in addition to the endorphin high — relates to the people who cut themselves ritually or therapeutically as featured in BME’s self-harm galleries and stories (whether you think this is illness or valid is a secondary issue — right now I’m only talking about the underlying medical mechanics). Unlike blood doping or steroids, it is virtually impossible to test for “boosting”, and just because it’s banned doesn’t mean it can be stopped.

Well, I know this was a little removed from body modification proper, but I hope that it still gives some interesting insights into overlapping issues.


By the way, the background photo above that I’ve used to illustrate this entry is from an earlier ModBlog entry by Rob that’s a very fascinating story — apparently this client came in wanting to get a voluntary scarification that had the appearance of self-harm to avoid military service! Here’s the entry: Self Preservation or Self Harm? Another very interesting tale.

The Friday Follow-up

Last week in the Follow-up I asked you to send in pictures of scars that are several years old, and boy did you deliver.  While seeing a scar after 6 months or a year can give a good indication as to what the scar will look like, a photo of a scar that is 3-4 years old can give you a definitive look at how a scar can heal up over time.  This week’s scar comes from IAM member EvanxBurkeWay back in 2007 Evan’s scar made it to ModBlog when it was still fresh from the 5 hour cutting by Wes from Electric Chair in Riverside, CA.

So, here it is, 4 years ago shortly after it was cut.

Keep reading to see how it looks today.

Four long years later, the scar is still very visible and slightly raised.

Now Evan’s scar wasn’t the only older scar sent in over the past week.  Be sure to head over to the scarification galleries to see what else has been submitted.

Unknown Pleasures

Now before you check out this scar, you have to keep in mind that although the scar is similar to the cover art for Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” album, the owner of the scar is not a Joy Division fan, but does like the image of the pulsar graph.

This cutting was done by Fousage from in Prague.  You can find more photos of the cutting, including some procedural shots in the cutting gallery.