When you hear the words “tongue splitting,” chances are you don’t think whatever-it-means sounds very comfortable. Unfortunately, that’s because it’s not. Tongue splitting is the act of surgically splitting the tongue up the middle to make a human tongue look more like lizard’s forked tongue.
But while it can be argued that most surgical procedures come with at least some level of pain, tongue splitting poses its own unique dangers.
“Tongue splitting carries a lot of risks. Patients have reported everything from excess blood loss, permanent nerve damage, infection, and trouble breathing and swallowing,” says Dr. Bruce Chau of Berkeley, Michigan.
In fact, the procedure is being compared to a similar trend – tongue piercing – which carries many of the same risks.
“Tongue piercing can cause a lot of the same risks as tongue splitting, but unlike tongue splitting, tongue rings are very simple to remove and very easy to heal,” Chau says. “There is always a risk of permanent damage with tongue piercing, but when you remove the piercing itself, the hole will close on its own. This isn’t true of tongue splitting.”
So, can tongue splitting be reversed if you decide you don’t want to look like a reptile after all?
“Absolutely,” says Chau. “But the reversal procedure is supposedly way more painful than the initial tongue splitting procedure, and there are no guarantees that you’ll ever fully regain feeling in your tongue – or your sense of taste.”