Anti-Tragus Removal

In the vast majority of cultures that stretch ears, the procedure is the same as the one that’s common in modern body modification — a simple hole in the soft tissue of the lobule (earlobe) that is increased in size over time. A small percentage however — the Maasai of Kenya and northern Tanzania for example (click here to see a typical Maasai-style ear) — also remove the anti-tragus. I don’t know why they choose to do this more invasive version of the procedure for sure, although my theory is that because it makes hearing slightly more multidirectional (that is, makes it easier to hear sounds behind you, but more difficult to understand sound in a closed environment — for example, to isolate the conversation you’re having in a packed room), making it a specific body modification adaptation to improve hunting on the savannah. Of course it is possible they just “like the way it looks”, but I don’t think it’s that simple.

In any case, this procedure is quite rare in our body modification culture, but it does happen. For example, Jacob Lawson recently had Brian Decker ( remove his anti-tragus. He tells me that the journey started with his inner conch removal, inspired by saivite yogis cutting their inner conches “to open up spiritual channels”. He found that having weight on my his inner conches influenced his mindset during meditation, grounding him. Not really liking the look of jewelry “unnaturally bulging out of the [inside of the] ear”, he wondered whether there was a way to get this same grounding, but from jewelry in his lobes instead — which he did like the look of. This lead to the anti-tragus removal procedure that Brian Decker did for him. He feels that this modification also makes the stretched ear look more natural — as if it was “meant to be that way”, rather than modified.

In these three pictures you can see it fresh and sutured, and then healed three weeks later. Jacob is planning on stretching larger as well, to increase the modification’s influence and to increase the weight, probably using primarily stone jewelry. Click to enlarge any of the pictures in this post.

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Another person who has had this procedure done is Matthew Blake of Superfly in San Diego, his being done by Howie ( The procedure was nearly identical (they even both had an inner conch as well, which in each case was left separate and intact), although Matthew’s lobes are of course stretched longer — here you can see the healed result with the jewelry removed (and check out the oblong cartilage removal in the upper ear).

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And here’s his ears wearing a beautiful set of 2.5″ orange adventurine plugs — Matthew says, “I personally love the aesthetics of how high my plugs sit without the antitragus,” and I agree completely. They look great. Similarly, I’ll also mention one more person by the way that’s had this done is Mateo, a ModBlog regular — you can also see the way his plugs sit in this post from three years ago.

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Encounters in Africa

This photo is from two years ago when Florian and his girlfriend were in Kenya. On their way back from a safari they passed a Maasai village, where they decided to stop. This was their first reaction when they saw him and his stretched ears — perhaps the first time they’d seen a white guy with stretched ears, a practise that is all but dying out in their own culture. A very fun, friendly encounter that saw them dancing together not long after.


His picture reminded me — when Rachel and I were in Africa (an amazing experience) in 2004, in Durban we bumped into an older Zulu that made his living taking photos with tourists. As you can imagine he was a bit beat down by life, unsurprising given that he’d been essentially reduced to a zoo exhibit, turned into a curiosity for visitors due to his cultural background. So there wasn’t any dancing. He did however appear happy, or at least bemused, to meet a white guy with stretched ears as well.

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Wednesday’s BME boy

Here’s some BME boy appreciation for you.  I love when people submit portraits of themselves to BME.  TheTrueStasis sent us the following portrait.  I’m not sure, but I think this might be “Blue Steel”.

I like the choices and placement of his piercings, they have a certain flow about them.


Send in portrait shots of you and your body modification!  Remember, there are two ways to submit, either by uploading photos to BME directly through your BME account or via email.

0ga Tragus Piercings

Tobias, who you may know not just from here on BME, but also if you take part in the tattoo and modification forums on Reddit, said that ever since he saw the 0ga tragus I posted back in 2008 he worked toward it. At that point he was wearing itsy-bitsy 16ga jewelry in each ear, and over time he’s stretched them to that 0ga that first inspired him. Success! He currently wears skin-color Kaos Softwear silicone jewelry in it, which I think is perfect because it makes it look even bigger. He adds, “to this day, it still amazes and wows people, and they’ve become my absolute favorite piercings.”

My old friend David also wears BME a 0ga tragus — two of them as well, one of them in each ear, although he wears matching 0ga Anatometal steel tunnels. That’s David’s “Dumbo ear” (his words, not mine) there on the right, and Tobias is on the left. By the way, if you like this, check out the 1/2″ tragus I posted just a little while later.



The result of getting your buddy who learned to pierce by “watching videos” to work on you in his kitchen… is that you’ll eventually end up getting yourself repaired by someone who is actually based out of a reputable studio. The famous and notorious “Autoclave Cookbook” (this really does exist) aside, you should not be able to cook a proper supper in a body modification studio. This ear repair was done by Papacho Body Art and Christian Moron of 316 Tattoo Studio in Caracas, Venezuela. I will never get used to looking at necrotized ears. That is only permissable if you are a zombie or otherwise a member of the undead — and even then it’s completely undesirable.


It’s not the body mods that make the bad guy, it’s the overalls.

A while back my old friend Josh (yes, “That Guy” from the 9:30 club in DC) has been featured on modblog a few times previously for pictures similar to these. It seems he has a thing for playing the villain, when truth be told he is a gentle giant of a man.


For another shot and a little backstory on this project from Josh, keep on keeping on.

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I don’t think that’s where that goes!

Enemy sent in this photo of himself.  From what I gather, the piercings were all completely self done.  His lobes are at 7/8 and his septum is at 7/16.  I wanted to post the photo because high nostrils don’t come in very often.  I want to say this is still a fairly uncommon piercing but given where I live, I’m not sure if that’s accurate or simply my perception.   What about you, ModBloggers?  Would you say this is uncommon or do you see high nostrils with some frequency where you live?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that he doesn’t normally wear what appears to be a piece of pipe a sharpie in his septum and that this was just for the photo.