What is Tongue Splitting & What are its Associated Health Risks?|How is Tongue Splitting Done?

What is Tongue Splitting?

Tongue splitting is a cosmetic procedure which is most popular amongst the body modification enthusiast (people who want to make changes to their appearance), which involves getting the tongue sliced into two halves to create a snake-like or fork-like effect.

It is usually done in the tip or the center of the tongue.

Everyone has a different reason to get a split on their tongue. Some want it for purely aesthetic reason, some to perform oral sex acts, some to have a peculiar self-identity, and more.

This body modification is very delicate and extremely dangerous.1

The Tongue splitting procedure should not be performed at home and if you really want to get it done, go for a reputable and experienced professional.

What is Tongue Splitting & What are its Associated Health Risks?

How is Tongue Splitting Done?

Tongue splitting is performed by a cosmetic surgeon or a body modification practitioner.

There are various methods of doing it, with the most common procedure involving a scalpel to cut down the middle of the tongue and then stitching the wound. Some prefer to cauterize the tongue using a laser.


In this procedure, the surgeon heats the scalpel to help seal the wound more quickly and prevent blood loss. A cut is made starting from the tip of the tongue backward. The sides cut are then stitched.


In this type, a split is made with cauterization, using either a cautery tool or an argon laser.

The heated beam of the laser is directed to the area where the split is required. The tongue tissues are burnt and sealed to prevent blood loss.

Finally, any part left unsealed is stitched.

Tie-off or Fishing Line

It is a DIY tongue splitting method but should be performed under the supervision of a professional.

It is started by piercing the place till where they want the back end of the split to be. A twine or a fishing line is threaded through the pierced hole and tied tightly at the tip of the tongue.

  • The pressure is put on by tighter and tighter knots.
  • Tongue splitting is an extremely painful procedure. On the scale of 1-10, the pain experienced is rated 7-9.
  • The pain is felt most while eating, talking, or whenever the tongue is used.

The tongue takes about two weeks to heal and the pain gradually gets easier to tolerate. Once the surgical site seals the stitches fall out and the pain also eases up.

The Risk Involved With Tongue Splitting Procedure

There are many risks associated with tongue splitting. Some occur immediately after the procedure while some until long after it has been done.

  • Risks of the procedure
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Infection from the surgical tools
  • Damage to the tooth surface form the surgical tools
  • Endocarditis or heart infection

Certain risks occur after the procedure, if not performed by a professional or if it doesn’t heal.

  • Swelling
  • Continuous bleeding
  • Tongue infection
  • Gum recession
  • Discharge from the split area
  • Permanent scarring
  • Gum infection
  • Permanent scarring of the tongue
  • Death of the tongue tissue
  • Long-term irreversible side effects are,
  • Risk of mouth infection
  • Airway blockage
  • Changes in breathing
  • Increase in production of saliva
  • Lesion on the roof of the mouth
  • Loss of sensation of the taste of certain flavors
  • Loss of control of tongue movement

See your doctor right away if the following symptoms are noticed,

  • Heavy continuous bleeding
  • Discharge of pus
  • Tongue healing slowly
  • Fever
  • Surgical site getting worse
  • Infection of tongue
  • Unusual pain and tenderness in the gums or teeth

Tongue splitting is a type of body modification which can prove to be dangerous even if done by a professional. Do not ever try it yourself. Seek medical help if any sign or symptoms of complications are noticed.