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Front Physiol. 2011 Sep 21;2:64. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2011.00064. eCollection 2011.

Face Piercing (Body Art): Choosing Pleasure vs. Possible Pain and Posture Instability.

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  • 1IRIS Group, UMR 8194, CNRS, Service d'Ophtalmologie-ORL-Stomatologie, Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou Paris, France.


Piercings (body art, i.e., with jewelry) are more and more widespread. They can induce various complications such as infections, allergies, headaches, and various skin, cartilage, or dental problems, and represent a public health problem. We draw attention to possible side effects resulting from face piercing complications observed on four young adults such as eye misalignment, decreased postural control efficiency, and non-specific chronic back pain with associated comorbidity. We found that the origin was pierced jewelry on the face. Removing the jewelry restored eye alignment, improved postural control, and alleviated back pain in a lasting way. We suggest that pierced facial jewelry can disturb somaesthetic signals driven by the trigeminal nerve, and thus interfere with central integration processes, notably in the cerebellum and the vestibular nucleus involved in postural control and eye alignment. Facial piercings could induce sensory-motor conflict, exacerbate, or precipitate a pre-existing undetermined conflict, which leads pain and complaints. These findings are significant for health; further investigations would be of interest.


back pain; piercing; postural instability; trigeminal path; vertical heterophoria

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