Article Text

Download PDFPDF
All hail the new flesh: some thoughts on scarification, children and adults
  1. S Oultram
  1. Correspondence to Dr S Oultram, Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele, Staffs ST5 5BG, UK; stuart_oultram{at}


Body art as expressed through non-therapeutic bodily modification is extremely popular, with techniques ranging from the commonplace such as ear piercing to the more esoteric forms such as tongue splitting. Scarification is one such body art practice that is becoming popular as an alternative to tattooing and ear piercing. This paper begins by outlining the regulatory problems that scarification poses. It then goes on to argue that although there is a reasonable case for permitting competent adults to make use of scarification, the practice should not be made available to minors.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

  • The concise argument
    Sarah Chan