Modifying / changing the body's appearance, such as piercings, branding, tattooing.
Altering or changing a person's body for non medical reasons, using permanent or semi-permanent procedures for other reasons, such as spiritual, rebellion, or sexual.
Basically any type of alteration to one's physical appearance or body is classified as "body modification" whether internally or externally.
Body alteration has been found in all forms of culture, from all periods of time. Whether as mild as small tattoos, to the more macabre, body modifications have occurred throughout time.
In some cultures, the piercing or scarring of a body was for religious purposes, to ward off evil spirits, or to remove them as well. Some were to show one's endurance, or prove their manhood. (adulthood)
In some religious culture, the modification of the body , such as suspension, is to show a person's true believe, that they are on a higher spiritual plane, unaffected by pain being inflicted on their bodies.
Other forms of body manipulation was done as punishment, or as torture tactics to either punish or elicit information. The tactics have not altered over the centuries, merely how the feats are performed has changed.
The use of 'pain' for sexual pleasure has also been well documented in history, and body modification plays a role in that. Whether from the painful insertion of items under the skin, to adorning the skin with ornaments, alterations of the body are well recorded.
Some practices are caused to a mental disorder, while others are a desire to seek a higher level of sexual gratification. Specially this is noted in the BDSM culture.
[Basic] Through various methods, a person alters their appearance. Unlike using disguises, these changes are generally permanent, or require extensive procedures to revert back to one's previous appearance, though not 100%.
Various body parts are subject to these procedures, ranging from simple practices like having your ear's pierced, to having complex artwork imprinted on your body. However, just as in piercing, these alterations can be applied to various body parts.
Many of the modifications are for 'vanity' reasons. The desire to have the perfect look, the most beautiful set of, is what drives many to have some of these alterations done.
Many of the more 'extensive' body alterations, or modifications, require surgical procedures or at least some surgical knowledge.
[Sexual] Many of the practices are due to one's desire for heighten sexual arousal. For some this involves a higher degree of pain, as well as in showing trust. There are some who believe that the inflicting of pain, is about trust, as well as about endurances.
The controversy is that some claim the desire for inflicting pain, or of receiving pain is a form of mental disorder. Others claim it is a natural need for increased stimulation of various drugs within the body, such as endorphins.
The memory of the pain associated with such alterations, supposedly increases a person's arousal, and subsequent orgasm.
[Risks] While many 'get off' on the pain aspect, or the 'trust' factor, there is a great deal of risk involved when these various 'modifications' are not performed by a qualified person. Tattoos and Piercing require proper hygiene during the procedures, as well as in after care.
Other procedures shouldn't be performed by non medical personnel.
Some Modification/Alteration Practices include: Anal stretching (the stretching of the sphincter muscle, generally from prolonged use of devises such as a butt plug), Body piercing, Branding (scarring the body), Genital beading (inserting beads under the skin of the genitals, such as the penis head, or around the vagina) (mainly cosmetic, for heighten stimulation during sexual intercourse.), Scarification (cutting of skin in deliberate attempt to make scars or visible marks