The display or placement of piercings have been restricted by schools, employers and religious groups.
In spite of the controversy, some people have practiced extreme forms of body piercing, with Guinness bestowing World Records on individuals with hundreds and even thousands of permanent and temporary piercings.
Some people pierce for religious or spiritual reasons, while others pierce for self-expression, for aesthetic value, for sexual pleasure, to conform to their culture or to rebel against it.
Some forms of piercing remain controversial, particularly when applied to youth.
Contemporary body piercing practices emphasize the use of safe body piercing materials, frequently utilizing specialized tools developed for the purpose.
Body piercing is an invasive procedure with some risks, including allergic reaction, infection, excessive scarring and unanticipated physical injuries, but such precautions as sanitary piercing procedures and careful aftercare are emphasized to minimize the likelihood of encountering serious problems.
In Exodus 32, Aaron makes the golden calf from melted earrings.
Deuteronomy –17 dictates ear piercing for a slave who chooses not to be freed.
The practice of stretching the lips by piercing them and inserting plates or plugs was found throughout Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and South America as well as among some of the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and Africa.
The oldest mummified remains ever discovered were sporting earrings, attesting to the existence of the practice more than 5,000 years ago.
Nose piercing is documented as far back as 1500 BC.
It was popular among the Aztecs, the Mayans and the tribes of New Guinea, who adorned their pierced noses with bones and feathers to symbolize wealth and (among men) virility.
Lip piercing and lip stretching were historically found in certain tribal cultures in Africa and the Americas.