There’s a new trend in extreme body modification, and we’re glad the result is not permanent! They call themselves Bagel Heads: people who have saline solution injected into their foreheads, which is then sculpted to create the shape of a bagel. The process is not surgical and it’s actually quite simple.

A certified piercer injects 300 to 400 ccs of medical-grade saline, inserting a needle under the mid-forehead skin, with a slow drip. A round swelling forms in about an hour. The clinician then presses his or her thumb in the middle of the saline blob that has formed, simultaneously rounding out the edges and forming the “hole” in the bagel.

This swelling distortion of the forehead is temporary, with the effect lasting anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. The bagel-shaped impression fades from the forehead as the body absorbs the saline or it is urinated out of the system, and the skin returns to normal.

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The only repercussions may be a slight stinging sensation or a headache during the process. Health risks are minimized by using hospital-grade saline and sterile equipment, as well as by having a certified piercer checking in every few minutes to make sure the drip is working properly. Practitioners claim that there is no damage or permanent stretching as a result of becoming a Bagel Head for a day, no matter how many injections they receive. But some dermatologists note that saline injections during cosmetic surgery procedures can lead to extreme dehydration if the saline solution is too concentrated. Dermatologists also note the potential for bacterial or fungal infection if a non-sterile saline solution is used.

The bizarre practice of forehead saline inflations was pioneered in Canada, but soon caught the attention of members of Japan’s underground body modification scene. Japanese artist Keroppy Maeda first saw the procedure performed in Canada, and he liked it so much that he brought the technique back to Japan, where it’s become all the rage. The artist says he performs the procedure about once a month for members of Tokyo’s “body mod” community and for attendees of Japan’s underground fetish parties.

Bagel Heads have been featured on National Geographic’s Taboo television series, on Anderson Cooper’s “Ridiculist” on CNN, as well as at Huffington Post.

These temporary forehead injections have become part of Tokyo’s center of subculture and a novel form of personal expression for the Japanese body modification art scene. Keroppy Maeda, who also pioneered ModCon, a popular body modification convention, shares his thoughts on the bagel head look: “People who like extreme body modification want to find their own way of doing things, and they’re always looking for new ways to do that. The more progressive the scene gets, the more these people have to experiment and go their own way.”

Check out the procedure


  1. A new fashion trend in Japan: inject saline solution into your forehead and shape it like a bagel! OMG Facts Web site.
  2. La Carmina. Japanese bagel heads: Dangerous? Trendy? Not. Huffington Post. November 6, 2012.
  3. Misener J. ‘Bagel head’ saline forehead injections: Japan’s hot new beauty trend? Huffington Post. Updated October 3, 2012.