Illegal tongue splitting procedures exposed

Body modification artists have been exposed carrying out illegal and potentially dangerous tongue splitting procedures.

Patients undergo the cosmetic surgery to chieve a lizard-like forked tongue - writes

Two backstreet practitioners were filmed by BBC London preparing to illegally inject anaesthetic into undercover reporters.

The exposé also highlighted a grey area over the procedure's legality, with calls for the government to legislate.

BBC London was tipped off that numerous body modification artists were unlawfully injecting anaesthetics as part of tongue splitting operations.

Roni X, from Poland, who operated out of Divine Canvas in Islington, told an undercover researcher she would use the drug Articaine to control the pain.

Only a registered medical professional such as a doctor or dentist can supply this drug and authorise the dose.

'Shaky and wired'

Roni X explained: "You might feel a pinch, but it's nothing crazy and the stitches will take 15, 20 minutes to do all around.

"The entire procedure lasts up to half an hour."

Samppa von Cyborg, from Finland, also offered his services for £500. He is one of the world's best known body modification artists and claims to have carried out 1,000 tongue splits.

He admitted: "Cutting the tongue in half and putting stitches, there definitely will be some nerve damage."

Of the Articaine he intended to administer, he said: "You just feel really shaky and really wired, that's the only side effect you have."

Neither of the surgeons are medical professionals.

Mr von Cyborg's wife Aneta, who is his assistant, said: "We don't allow videos. Definitely no needle or syringe [in a photograph] because that's the illegal part.

"The needle is so small that you don't feel when it goes in."

The undercover reporters waited until the injections were actually being prepared before pulling out of the operation.

Stephan van Vuuren, principal dentist at Islington Green Dental Practice, said: "The effects of a local anaesthetic could be quite hazardous to a patient.

"If you haven't taken a proper medical history and the patient has a heart condition, the anaesthetic... could actually affect their heart rhythm."

The BBC spoke to two dental patients who suffered severe side effects from local anaesthetics, including panic attack symptoms and passing out.

It can also cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.

'Unknown quantities'

Dr Anna-Maria Rollin MBE, who sits on the council of the The Royal College of Anaesthetists, said: "Frankly I was horrified at the thought that in this unregulated environment people are doing this without training and in circumstances which don't look either clinical or sterile."

She was also worried about "injecting unknown quantities of unknown drugs into people, without any evidence of having the equipment available to deal with complications might they arise".

Meanwhile, the BBC's investigation highlighted a grey area in the regulation of body modification, which may mean the procedure itself is unlawful.

Roni X appeared to be acting under licensing laws for tattoo and piercing shops, with the tongue splitting licensed as a special treatment, namely piercing.

Dr Samantha Pegg, a lecturer in criminology at Nottingham Trent University and expert on the legality of body modification procedures, said the government urgently needed to legislate such procedures.

She explained: "Extreme body modification is not covered by existing law; we don't know whether an individual's consent is enough to make it legal. The practitioner could be committing a criminal offence.

"If it was properly regulated it would help in terms of health and safety.

"Piercing and tattooing are both heavily regulated in terms of hygiene, disposal of needles and so on, but there is nothing in place for these much more extreme procedures."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We are committed to supporting people to make informed and safe choices about any procedure they are considering and make sure that the person they choose is appropriately qualified, registered and insured."

The government is not planning any changes to legislation.

Contacted by the BBC, Samppa Von Cyborg denied injecting anyone, claiming he merely used an anaesthetic gel and used a doctor friend to inject customers.

Roni X did not respond to the BBC's letters, while Divine Canvas said Roni X did not work for them and never has.

Read more news of London on our site.
cosmeticsurgery Patients London
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in september
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Comments are designed to communicate and discuss the features of an enterprise or event, as well as to find out the interesting questions on it.

Council sidestepped a loaded decision about ending city hall regulation of the number of taxi licences in London, punting the controversial proposal back to staff on Tuesday night. The direction to city staff? Talk to the taxi industry. Again. It’s the latest chapter in the never-ending saga over London’s bylaw governing taxis, limousines and private ride-hailing companies like Uber. VEHICLE FOR HIRE BYLAW Staff will bring a bylaw back to the community and...
A dog owner claims her pet was kicked to death by a teenager in a “disgusting” attack at an east London park. Pomeranian puppy Scout was set upon by thugs while being walked in Raphael Park in Romford , owner Samantha Winfield said - writes She has launched a Facebook campaign to track down the culprit and police are investigating the incident, which happened at about 3pm on Sunday. “My partner walked my two Pomeranian puppies in Raphael Par...
A teenage girl was raped in broad daylight in an east London park, police have said. The Met's child abuse and sexual offences command is investigating the attack, which happened in West Ham Park on Tuesday. The female victim was attacked by a man close to the entrance opposite FairlandRoad, Scotland Yard said. It happened at about 4pm. No arrests have yet been made. West Ham Park, which dates back to the 16th century,is run by the City of London Corporati...
Armed police would have needed “luck” to be in the right place to tackle an intruder at Parliament, the Westminster terror attack inquest heard today. Khalid Masood, 52, rushed into the Parliamentary grounds and stabbed Pc Keith Palmer to death having mown down and killed four pedestrians with his car on Westminster Bridge. The inquest has heard armed police patrolling Parliament had been in-structed to prioritise the safety of ministers and MPs over polic...
A car thief who was filmed deliberately driving at a group of cyclists has admitted a string of offences. Shane Seymour, 25, of Southwark, south London, drove at the cyclists on Clapham Road, Clapham, during the morning rush hour of 1 August. Footage on social media showed a black Audi with fake number plates repeatedly accelerating towards the cyclists. Seymour pleaded guilty to the theft of a car, driving while disqualified and dangerous driving. He appe...
A female pedestrian is fighting for life after being hit by a lorry in east London , police said. Officers raced to the scene, on Stamford Hill, in Hackney , at about 4.25am on Thursday morning. The woman has been rushed to hospital, officers said, and remains in a critical condition. Police said the driver of the lorrystopped at the scene. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed there have been no arrests. Following the crash, Stamford Hill was...
London saw a massive spike in drug overdoses this summer, with its overdose-prevention site saving the lives of three times as many people last month as in the six months previous, says the executive director of the organization that hosts the site. With only two of the four front-running London mayoral candidates supporting a permanent downtown supervised drug consumption site, the need for intervention was driven home when 23 users were “reversed” from d...
The PM will announce £2bn to build new homes in England, in a attempt to remove the "stigma" of social housing. Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for the money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022. Labour said the announcement fell "far short" of what was needed for the social housing sector. BBC home editor Mark Easton said the government hopes the money will allow local authorities and hous...
Tackling serious violence in London is to be treated as a public health issue, the city's mayor has said. Sadiq Khan has set up a Violence Reduction Unit to include public health staff, police and local government, with £500,000 in initial funding. He said it "will not deliver results overnight", but focus on diverting young people away from crime. There have been 100 homicides in the city this year, with another man stabbed to death on Tuesday night . A t...