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How Tongue Splitting Works

        Culture | Body Art

Tongue Splitting Healing and Care
A 25-year-old tattoo artist shows how his split tongue has healed after he had the procedure done.
A 25-year-old tattoo artist shows how his split tongue has healed after he had the procedure done.
© Reuters/Corbis

Now we start the road to recovery. You're going to be a little uncomfortable for a while, but don't expect anyone to feel sorry for you because, you know, you kinda did it to yourself. Luckily, the tongue heals pretty fast, and as long as the procedure was done correctly and you're committed to taking care of yourself, you'll be back to your usual charming self in no time.

Everyone's pain threshold is going to be a little different, but the consensus is that you'll be in moderate pain for the first few days, which some people manage with prescription pain meds. Things will improve rapidly: You'll be feeling pretty good after a week and more or less normal after about two -- give or take a few days [source: Loftus].

When caring for your freshly bifurcated tongue, you'll be looking to (1) make sure the wounds don't reopen, (2) keep your tongue from getting infected and (3) relearn basic movements with your new dual appendage. This means that for the first few days, you'll basically be basically passing through a second infant phase -- eating mush, living in a sterile environment and speaking gibberish. Our advice? Live it up while you can. If you're gonna be out of commission a few days, treat yourself with a couple of your favorite movies.

The first two or three days you're going to want to stick to only soft foods -- and maybe even a liquid diet. Think soups, milkshakes and the like. To keep things good and sanitary, consider a nice saltwater rinse. It's a natural disinfectant, and it can even help reduce swelling [source: Kerr]. And speaking of speaking, it's probably a good idea to carry a pad and pen around at first. Your split tongue eventually will be surprisingly maneuverable, but only after you've learned how to use it. Allow for about two or three weeks to be fully comfortable speaking again, but be warned that you could develop a (usually slight) lisp. Also, if anything seems off -- numbness, swelling, discoloration -- consult your doctor immediately [sources: Bonner; Loftus].

But otherwise, that's about all you need to worry about as far as healing and care. So while the social considerations of splitting your tongue are many and nuanced, the actual procedure and recovery are fairly simple -- provided they're undertaken responsibly, of course. Just remember to consider all your options, be honest with your desires and consult the opinions of others for a better perspective. And above everything else, be safe.


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