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What is a Subdermal Implant?

Kelly Ferguson
Kelly Ferguson

The term subdermal implant most commonly refers to a form of body art, similar to but more extreme than body piercings and tattoos. It is essentially a three-dimensional object placed under the skin, intended to raise the skin and form a protruding shape. Subdermal implants, while well known by those experienced with body modifications, remain less mainstream than other forms of body art.

A subdermal implant may come in many shapes and sizes. In its simplest form, a subdermal implant may look like a raised bump or ridge underneath the skin. Others may form a star or any other geometric shape. These are usually but not always limited to fairly simple shapes, because it is sometimes difficult to see a great amount of detail with the skin stretched over the implant.

A scalpel may be used to perform a subdermal implant.
A scalpel may be used to perform a subdermal implant.

Occasionally, several implants are used in a region of the body to create a pattern. For instance, several ridges may be placed next to each other to cause an almost scaly appearance. Some people choose to place implants under the scalp in an effort to create the effect of horns. Often, this requires the skin to be stretched, a procedure which involves implanting steadily larger and larger sets of implants until the skin has been stretched enough to heal properly over the final size of the implants.

A subdermal implant is implanted under the skin through a relatively simple procedure. The skin is cut with a scalpel, a pouch is opened up to allow the implant room to be inserted, and then the implant is guided into place. Afterward, the scalpel incision is closed up, usually with sutures, but there are other methods that may be used.

Due to the fact that most of these subdermal implant procedures take place in body modification settings rather than in a medical facility, an anesthetic is unlikely to be used. If the procedure is done correctly, sterile equipment and surgical grade materials keep the risks reasonable for many people interested in undergoing this procedure. One must take care to avoid any trauma to the area of the body that has recently received an implant, as it can cause complications such as rejection or migration of the implant. Rejection may cause the implant to work its way out of the body, which has the potential for leaving scars. Migration refers to what happens when the implant moves around under the skin, away from its original position.

Discussion Comments


@seag47 – My cousin had to have her subdermal star-shaped implant removed. After that, it was not pretty.

She had daisies under the skin of her calves, and it would have looked awesome if her body had tolerated it. Instead, she had to have them surgically removed.

This left horrible scars, and I'm unsure if they will ever entirely fade away. She even has scarring underneath her skin, so this reduces the chances that her legs will ever look normal again.

It's something to think about. Are you willing to take the chance that this could happen to your arms, and is it worth the risk?


I have been considering getting subdermal butterfly implants on my upper arm. I think it would be much cooler than a tattoo, because it would look like a part of my body.

I have never liked the look of ink, anyway, and I think a flesh-toned image would be much more attractive. The only way to make it show up is to get a raised object implanted into my skin, though.

I am a little concerned about infection and rejection. If this occurs, do I have to have it removed?


I've seen people use 3D art implants in conjunction with tattoos for a more dramatic effect. To show his love for his girlfriend, one guy I know had a subdermal heart-shaped implant inserted into his chest. He then had her name tattooed on his skin in the middle of the heart.

It actually looked pretty cool. The heart itself raised his skin up, and it gave the illusion that it was actually beating out of his chest. I just hope that they never decide to end their relationship, because he would feel pretty silly with that obvious declaration of his love stuck there.


Just reading about this nauseates me. I have nightmares about things crawling under my skin, so I can't imagine anyone intentionally putting something there!

What is really creepy is thinking about it migrating. I really believe I would vomit if I had something moving around in there. It must take a person with a strong stomach to tolerate or desire a subdermal implant.

I saw a documentary once about people who try to look more like their favorite animal by getting implants under their skin. One guy loved reptiles, so he wanted to have ridges under his skin to give the appearance of scales. He succeeded in his quest to look less human and more reptilian, but it was hard for me to look at him!

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    • A scalpel may be used to perform a subdermal implant.
      By: Marina Lohrbach
      A scalpel may be used to perform a subdermal implant.