Clinical Review

Complications of Body Piercings: A Systematic Review

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Other proliferations reported in the literature include benign pyogenic granulomas22 and much less commonly malignant neoplasms such as basal cell carcinoma23 and squamous cell carcinoma.24 Although rare, treatment of piercing-associated malignancies include surgical removal, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy (Supplemental Information).


There are several limitations to our systematic review. First, heterogeneity in study designs, patient populations, treatment interventions, and outcome measures of included studies may have affected the quality and generalizability of our results. Moreover, because the studies included in this systematic review focused on specific complications, we could not compare our results to the literature that analyzes incidence rates of piercing complications. Furthermore, not all studies included the data that we hoped to extract, and thus only available data were reported in these instances. Finally, the articles we reviewed may have included publication bias, with positive findings being more frequently published, potentially inflating certain types and sites of complications and treatment choices. Despite these limitations, our review provides essential information that must be interpreted in a clinical context.


Given that cutaneous and mucosal piercing has become more prevalent in recent years, along with an increase in the variety of piercing-induced complications, it is of utmost importance that piercing salons have proper hygiene practices in place and that patients are aware of the multitude of potential complications that can arise—whether common and benign or rare but life-threatening.


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