As with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. Tongue splitting is no different. In the case of tongue splitting, “cost” does not only pertain to the financial cost, but there are health costs and quality of life costs which are also important and which determine the overall “cost” of this procedure. Below, we will approach cost by considering each of these factors. This page will start with the lowest cost financially, but which is also the highest cost regarding safety, health, and quality of result.
It is unusual to attempt to self-split, but it does happen. It takes a somewhat pathological amount of courage mixed with a certain amount of ignorance (presumption that the person can competently treat his/her own bleeding in the face of pain) and an extreme self confidence in tolerance of self-inflicted pain. This combination is rare, and that is probably a good thing. This is no doubt the cheapest (free), but has the very highest cost on other fronts. Even the sharpest knives are nowhere near as sharp as the scalpels used by a surgeon. So the self-splitter is forced to saw through the tissues rather than making a clean cut. This sawing motion is inordinately painful and tends to result in a partial spitting, significant regrowth, significant blood loss, and a poor cosmetic result. And anyone who self-splits is at significant risk of passing out during the procedure, either due to pain, blood loss, or anxiety. This results in incomplete splitting and greater risk of blood loss after passing out because there is no one to hold pressure on the bleeding tongue or to call for help. And it is worth noting that if you do go to an emergency room for control of your bleeding, they will most likely control the bleeding by closing the tongue back to itself. And you are then back to square one. Make no mistake: self-splitting is extremely dangerous and should not be considered under any circumstances.
Having a friend split your tongue is only slightly better than self-splitting. Again, it is probably free, but the same risks as self-splitting apply, even the possibility of passing out. The bottom line here is to beware the well-meaning friend who offers to help you with this procedure. As with self-splitting, friend-splitting carries significant risk and should not be considered under any circumstances.
In most states, the act of making an incision with a knife (scalpel) is defined as surgery and is therefore governed by the medical board. Because most states have dealt with one or more untoward outcomes (bleeding, airway obstruction, death) from a non-medical person performing a tongue splitting, and because this is considered as practicing medicine without a license, many states have taken the extra step to specifically outlaw the practice of tongue splitting by non-medical professionals. Whereas there have been tattoo artists who have successfully performed this procedure without complications, most states have precluded tattoo artists from performing this procedure because of the lack of oversight and regulation. In the remaining states where tattoo artists are not prohibited from performing this procedure, the cost ranges greatly, from a few hundred to several hundred dollars.
An experienced surgeon can accomplish tongue splitting in a safe and controlled environment, but you must be aware that not all surgeons who offer this procedure have experience with it, and this is discussed below. But, assuming that you have found an experienced surgeon with a history of good results, you should anticipate a generally uneventful procedure and recovery with no discomfort during the actual procedure, nominal bleeding during and after the procedure, and a low risk of complications. Of course, this will all come at a higher financial cost than you would pay your tattoo artist, as the surgeon’s training and experience as well as compliance with the standards required in a medical setting will be expected to impose a higher cost. Total cost of tongue splitting will vary greatly and ranges from $1500-$3000 for the procedure.
Warning: As with other elective cosmetic procedures, some surgeons will jump on the “me too” band wagon when they see that they can make money from a new procedure, even though they may not have performed it before. So, how can you tell the difference between those who are experienced and those who merely claim to be? The short answer is that it is not always easy. One thing to look for is board certification in a field which would logically provide experience related to tongue spitting, such as ENT. ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) surgeons are certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology (ABO) and are trained in surgery of the oral cavity and tongue. They have extensive experience in operating on the tongue and oral cavity, and so tongue splitting would be a reasonably simple operation for most surgeons who are certified by the ABO. Doctors who are certified in other specialties such as general surgery or oral surgery may have a more mixed experience, so if you see one of these specialists, you may want to find some evidence of proper training and experience. Such evidence may be found through speaking with the surgeon’s previous tongue splitting patients. If the doctor claims to have performed this procedure but cannot provide the contact to a single previous patient, you should take this as a warning that there may be no previous patients. If the doctor claims that he cannot share other patients’ contact information because of HIPPA, you should not believe it. Tongue splitting patients are typically very open about their procedures and eager to share their experiences with others. So, whereas it is true that the doctor cannot provide the contact information of any patient without the patient’s consent, tongue splitting patients are typically more than willing to provide such consent, and so HIPPA is not a problem. When you do speak with previous patients, be sure to ask about their satisfaction with the results and their care.