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o you've got a tattoo. And a cute little piercing or two. You probably think you're a real trendsetter, huh? Well, think again. You haven't seen the latest in body decoration chic - 3-D body art.

3-D modification can include everything from tongue-splitting to scalp spikes to metal beads imbedded beneath the skin. Phoenix-based body artist Steve Haworth knows how to get under your skin - he's helped more than 450 people realize their dream of becoming human canvasses, nearly 300 of them college students.

"I work on college students from all over the United States," he says. "Several students have asked me if they can have it removed once they graduate and start looking for a job. Everything I do is reversible."

Let's hope so, considering one of Haworth's latest clients - an Arizona State U. elementary education grad - had him insert a horseshoe-shaped chunk of metal under the skin on her forehead. "She can't have it there for the school kids to gawk at," he says. "Live for the day and next week you can always change."

Making that change is a pretty painful process, and only a few places in the country will even consider doing it. Here's how the 3-D body art insertion process works: First, a cut is made in the skin. An artist will then separate the tissue and insert an FDA-approved stainless steel or Teflon object (balls, barbells and horseshoes are the most popular), leaving a bulging, raised design. Stitches come next.

Painful as it sounds, U. of Albany grad student Erik Sprague is up for it. He's already had his tongue split with a laser, and now he plans to have three rows of 3-D implants inserted in his forehead. "Eventually, I would like to replace the initial teflon implants with coral implants," Sprague says. "Coral implanted in this manner will be gradually calcified by the body and become part of [my] skull." Ouch.

Haworth, who has several piercings in his left ear, septum, tongue and penis, also boasts some self-inserted 3-D modification art.

"I don't think I've been grossed out yet," he says. "Nothing grosses me out. But it's definitely not for everybody." No kidding.

By Jim Good, Bowling Green State U.

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