Tongue Splitting


I had first heard of tongue splitting in a magazine. The procedure was performed by a girl who did it using the fishing line method. Then at a much later date, when I talked with Shannon Larratt (then of BME) over the phone, who explained how a Doctor Busino, an oral surgeon, performed the surgery using an argon laser. Dr. Busino is located in Albany, New York. I came very close to visiting the doctor myself to get it done, but decided against it. First of all, from the pictures I had seen, and the stories I had heard, it seemed that the laser method allowed the tongue to heal back together quite a bit. My life also became incredibly busy at the time, and I found myself constantly postponing the procedure. Eventually, I completely forgot. The next time I had the opportunity to visit Steve Haworth in Phoenix, Arizona, I met 2 people that had their tongues split by Steve also using the fishing line method. The opportunity to view, firsthand, the end result, and being able to witness no speech distortion, I decided that one day soon, I too would have two tongues.

The fishing line Method

First, your tongue must be pierced, and completely healed from the piercing. Then, using thin monofilament fishing line, thread the line through the same hole that the bar goes through. Then you line it up with the tip of your tongue. The line is knotted and then pulled as tight as its possible to bear the pain. Another knot is put on to make it even tighter that you can bear. After its knotted a few times, you cut off excess line, and close your mouth. You leave the line in for a few days, and then you do this procedure again. The first line should be loose after you repeat this procedure with a second piece of fishing line -- you should be able to cut the first line free. After doing this for 4-8 weeks, the tongue is supposed to be almost completely split, and the rest can be split by taking a scalpel or razor and just cutting the last bit to finish it off. This method heals up quickly, since the cuts are slow and small, and the tongue doesnt reattach itself together since not much is ever unhealed at any one time.

Binding 1 - October 8, 1998

I had wanted to do this for almost a year, but I had to find a period where I could speak strangely for about a month or two since my tongue was going to be tied up. I waited and waited, and no time seemed right. Eventually, one random day, I decided that the "right time" didn't matter, I just needed to do it.

I finally built the courage to go through with splitting my tongue. I got the fishing line and did it exactly as described above. It was all over in a matter of minutes. At first, it hurt a lot less than I thought it would, but when I started to pull harder and harder, and it became quite painful. I was disappointed with how little it actually seemed to be squeezing and cutting, but it was really tight, so I left it. After I was all done, moving my tongue caused some pain and eating caused my tongue to stretch out which made the binding hurt a lot. I was talking a bit funny since my tongue was all bound up. It wasn't really due to the fact that that I was having my tongue cut, but more because it was being squeezed and I couldn't extend my tongue to touch the top of my mouth correctly.

Binding 2 - October 12, 1998

The line felt loose, but when I tried to cut it out, I failed hopelessly. The line was loose enough that I could talk fine, but too tight for me to even see it. Getting something under the line to snip it away was something I just wasn't able to do. I decided to leave the old line in there, and just add another line. This binding was much more painful than the first, and my tongue squished a lot. I was pleased with the progress. The tongue was cut about 1-2mm in the front, and a groove was forming on top. Usually, when I pull my 4ga bar out, the tongue squishes together so that I can't see the hole through my tongue. This time, the hole was perfectly visible and I didnt even need to guide the line through with the bar, I just popped out the bar, and the hole stayed open, probably because the old line was still pulling tongue back.

Binding 3 - October 14, 1998

This time, I was able to cut free the original bindings line using a very small and sharp pair of scissors. I was getting pretty good at binding myself quickly, so I planned on doing this more often that I had been.

I noticed something interesting almost a week after my first binding. The first binding hardly cut anything. The second binding was tighter, but still didn't appear to cut much. 2 days later, I was surprised to see that the second binding had actually cut about 5mm in the front, and maybe 3-4mm on top! It seems that after you get past the initial cut, the splitting goes a lot faster. The outside of the tongue must be more tough than the inside, because it takes longer. I always thought the tongue was a big muscle with same density all the way through, but obviously I was wrong.

Other bindings - October 15, 1998 to November 14, 1998

I was re-binding myself at least every 3-4 days. Sometimes I really wanted it to hurry up the splitting, so I was binding every day, or every other day. Sometimes I went a little overboard and bound myself multiple times a day! Removing old bindings was not easy when I bound myself often. I was re-binding to make it tighter and tighter, but the old lines were already so tight that they were impossible to get out. There was one day that I spent quite some time working on getting the lines out, and I cut out 6 old bindings.

I bound myself always in the morning, before work, or right before bed. If my tongue was sore, I wouldn't bind it as tight, and if it wasn't hurting at all, I'd make sure it was much tighter. I spoke poorly when I was tightly bound, but when the binding was loose, I spoke with no problems. I figured, if I could talk properly, it was too loose. There was a constant feeling of slight pain and irritation, but similar to the sutures, it was something I began to enjoy.

The Last Day - November 15 1998

My tongue was about 60% split by this time, and I was quite bored with how fast things were progressing. The next week, I was going to Amsterdam for 10 days, and I didn't want to be fiddling with fishing line while I was on vacation. So I decided to get this all over with.

tearing done I dried my tongue so I could get a good hold of it (it's normally very slippery when wet). I then grabbed the halves with my fingers and pulled, hard. I saw it rip a bit, and then more and more, right down the center. I salivate a lot with my mouth open and my tongue being messed with, so I had to dry myself a lot while pulling since I kept slipping as soon as my fingers got wet. I also got an opportunity to wipe some blood away, and I could see the tongue actually being torn. After a bit, my tongue started to get quite a bit sore, and I got tired of pulling on it. I was successful, though -- almost 90% of my tongue had been split, and there was very little (probably 2mm of tissue) keeping my bar in. I decided to just take a razor and cut through that. I'm really bad about cutting or piercing myself, so instead of cutting it in one quick slice, I just pecked at the tongue with the razor for 20 minutes. Doing it with one big quick slice would have probably hurt a lot less, but its just something I couldn't do. When there was just a little bit left, I held on tight and gave it one final cut. The bar fell out instantly, and I felt incredible. All the pressure from the bar, the line and me messing with it for 1.5 months was suddenly gone.

. cutting tongue

The split also grew by over 1/4 of a inch after the last bit was cut because of the size of the 4ga hole where the bar was. This surprised me, as I didn't expect the bar hole to make such a big difference in the length of the halves. Once I was finished cutting, I felt soooooo good. I can not explain the thrill of being able to move my two tongues in ways that I could never have done before. I was able to speak really well too. In fact, better than I was able to for years before. Before this, I had that large bar stuck in my tongue, and it weighed down my tongue a lot causing me to have a slight slur. Over the years however, I had learned to over-annunciate words when speaking to compensate for my weighed down tongue. Since I was used to speaking like that, I kept doing it even after the bar was gone, so my speech was actually pretty clear. I noticed that I couldn't say D and T the same as I could before, but it was nothing that even my girlfriend could notice, and she hears me talk every day. It was something I quickly outgrew and I talk perfectly now. This did not affect my speech at all.

tongue completely split

Long after healing - December 1 1998

The split healed in about 4 or 5 days, and the halves actually started to join back together. I spoke to another person who had split his tongue, and he experienced the exact same joining that I was going through. He said that his tongue grew back together where the bar used to be, and the remainder of his tongue (the part that had been either cut or severed with fishing line) remained split. After 2 weeks or so after the final cut, the place where my bar used to be was almost completely healed, so I had a slightly shorter split than I had right when I did the last cut. Besides this, nothing else happened. I am so very happy with this modification. I normally don't recommend mods to others because I want them to discover their joy themselves, but this is something I highly recommend to everyone. I can't imagine not having two tongues, and I wish I had done this much sooner!

Second piercing - December 11, 1998

I got my tongue pierced again, at 12ga, just like the first time I got it done. This time, it was done really far back. About as far back as we could make it go. I'm going to try to start splitting again from this point as soon as it heals.

Since then... - December 18, 2005

I'm updating this about 7 years later.. I've split it 4 times now, and it is pretty far back, but keeps growing back to just a bit longer than you see in the images above. I have had no long term issues or complications, and I couldn't be any happier with 2 tongues. I feel sorry for all the one-tongued freaks out there. A big blobby tongue in the mouth seems so annoying once you have had 2 fully dexterous tongues instead!

Some questions...

Over the last many years, a few people have contacted me about splitting their tongues. Depending on how busy I am at the time, I've been able to give personal advice. I get a few questions over and over, so I figured I'd note them here with answers. Note that I'm answering these questions 11+ years later, so my memory for details may be a bit off.
What is the swelling like? (May 2009)
Well, note that the beauty of this method is that you are never actively cutting the tongue. You are coercing the tongue's tissue to separate. Now, because you never cut the tongue, there is never an open bleeding wound. If you pull the line too tight, then it may bleed a little, and that trauma may cause quite a bit of swelling. I noticed some amount of swelling. Enough to cause the line to 'disappear' in the swelling of the tongue. This made it a pain in the ass to cut the line out, and sometimes I tied the second line without cutting out the first at all. Then the next time, I cut both of the old ones out. After a while, this gets really easy. It's quite annoying at the first few days.

Note that if you aren't in pain with the ties, it isn't tight enough. You are just wasting your time if you aren't hurting. Hurting means the tissue is being squeezed and being coerced to seperate. If your tongue swells, the line will get tighter. That's a good thing! If you Listerine and/or salt water rinse, your chances of infection are very low. Keep your mouth clean clean clean. I cannot stress this enough. You must keep your mouth clean!

Is the large tongue piercing needed? (May 2009)
It is not. In fact, my later splits were done with only 12ga piercing, all those grew back much more though. There are 2 reasons for the large piercing:
  1. It's much easier to get the line through the larger hole.
  2. With a big piercing, you've been pierced for a while, and the wound has had a good amount of time being healed around the bar. It's a very different type of 'healing' on a large diameter hole than a smaller one. If you look at the last split photo above, you will see that the end of the split is round. That "hole" closed up, but nothing else did. I'm not sure what would happen with a smaller or less healed hole. Note also there is a huge different between a piercing that is healed for a month and one that is healed for a year or more. Maybe the tongue really wouldn't distinguish between hole and split and just keep closing up. I've heard a few stories of tongues closing up 50% or more. Most of these were done with no hole at all though (just a scalpel). Also, when I resplit at 12ga, the new split grew almost completely back, but stopped at the point of the original split. My next two splits I started at 6ga. They did better.
Must you use monofilament fishing line or can you use something else? (May 2009)
Monofilament just means 1 line. It's like a little thin wire, but with only 1 core. Not like a piece of string which is made up of many tiny strings wrapped around each other. You wouldn't really want wire like that as bacteria and stuff can get caught in the grooves of the wire. I also used a plastic single core fishing wire, since i didn't want a non-clean metal in my mouth all day.
Whats it like brushing your teeth or eating? (May 2009)
Just like I stated above, if you cause your tongue to move in a manner that causes it to stretch against the binding, it's going to hurt. It's not pleasant to eat or brush when you are in pain. Also, you must keep your tongue clean so you have to listerine or salt water rinse after eating. I reccomend the same after brushing so you don't have toothpaste residue in your binding. I tended to brush my teeth every monring and bind directly after. I did the same at night.


All images and pages copyright © 2005 Danny Dulai unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Copyright violations will be prosecuted and damages sought under USC Title 17.