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Are 'bagel foreheads' the hot new 'beauty' trend of the future?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In trendy parts of Asia, the hot new beauty trend appears to be "bagel foreheads." Users inject saline solution into their foreheads causing their flesh to swell. Trendsetters put their fingers in the middle, and the indentation in the mass resembles a bagel - giving them the distinct resemblance to the villainous alien Klingons as seen on the "Star Trek" TV series!   

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The "National Geographic Taboo" chronicles the bizarre beauty treatment in an episode set in Tokyo. The show will follow three people who opt into the temporary forehead injections. It's all part of the worldwide "body modification" subculture, which has seen teenagers at the mall opting for outrageous full body tattoos and multiple piercings all over the body.  

For forehead bagels, technicians insert a needle into the forehead and inject about 400 cc of saline to create a forehead-sized blob. One devotee describes the procedure as feeling like "something's dripping down [his] head" and a "slight stinging sensation." The practitioner then places his or her thumb into the blob to create the indentation.

Why would anybody in the world want a bagel in their forehead? Japanese artist Keroppy, who pioneered the "modcon" body art explained to Vice magazine back in 2009 that it's about innovation: "People who like extreme body modification want to find their own way of doing things, and they're always looking for new ways to do that. The more progressive the scene gets, the more these people have to experiment and go their own way."

Unlike piercings and tattoos, the bagel-shaped injections aren't permanent; the round protrusion fades after about sixteen hours as your body absorbs the saline.

The process does carry health risks. Omar Ibrahimi, a dermatologist at the Connecticut Skin Institute and visiting assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, says that the risks of bagel-heading are threefold.

First, while the body can safely absorb normal saline solution injected under the skin, "saline solution that is too concentrated can overload the body's capacity to process salt," Ibrahimi says. If a naive bagel head were to accidentally use highly-concentrated hypertonic saline solution instead of the normal kind, for example, he or she could experience extreme dehydration of the kind that happens when you drink salt water.

Secondly, if the saline solution isn't sterile, there's "a lot of risk of bacterial or fungal infection," Ibrahimi said.

Water contamination is also one of the lesser-known risks of getting a tattoo. Just last month, the use of unsterile water as a diluting agent in tattoo ink resulted in a spate of bacterial infections across four U.S. states. Such infections cause painful rashes that can last months, requiring strong antibiotic regimens and sometimes surgery to eradicate.

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