DIY surgery: For the hardcore, desperate, or just plain mentally ill

The closest I've come to performing surgery on my self was the time I popped a really big zit behind my ear. Heck, that sucker might have even been a cyst or something. The cases I've managed to dig out and list below are, shall we say, way more friggin' impressive. Oh, and Wikipedia has a neat little entry on self-surgery that is worth a quick read. Personal self-surgery experiences, as always, are welcome in the comments section!

Harper KA. Double fracture and wedging of a sewing needle interdentally in an attempt at self-treatment: a case report. Dent Update. 2002 Mar;29(2):78-9.

How in the nine circles of hell do you manage to break off two sewing needles while trying to perform dental surgery on yourself? We're talking high carbon steel here!


Moholkar K, Krishnan J, Sampson B. Self-surgery: removal of ankle surgical implants--A case report. MedGenMed. 2000 Sep 1;2(3):E41.

Do those things itch or something? Perhaps somebody set off one too many airport metal detectors?


Bordier P, Robert F. Suicide by self-removal of a pacemaker. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2004 Mar;25(1):78-9.

And we have yet another nominee for world's saddest medical case report! Have a nice day!


Radhi JM. Lipoma of the colon: self amputation. Am J Gastroenterol. 1993 Nov;88(11):1981-2. No abstract available.

Sadly, I have been unable to access anything more than the title of the article. Thankfully, the title seems to be fairly self-explanatory.


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One time I dislocated my shoulder during a wrestling match for my high school. So years went by and I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to fit my body through a tennis racket, because I saw some guy do it on the television. Then I realized to do the stunt I had to dislocate my shoulder, so I did again. The second time was much easier, but a lot more painful. But I like pain so it didn't really matter. As I started putting my body through the tennis racket I called my mother to come record the stunt because I thought maybe I could show my friends after. Anyways I been stuck with the tennis racket since then, Im now 45 and live alone with no wife or kids because no one wants to hang out with the guy with the tennis racket. So about performing surgery ah... yeah I didnt really do it. I just put my body through a tennis racket.

By Tre P. Douglas (not verified) on 26 Dec 2010 #permalink

I had a small bump in my left armpit that I tried to make produce a whitehead by heat compress and such, 3 days later it was nickel-quarter size, and I had to get it cut out, this was about 2 years ago. Yesterday I woke up to find a small bump, just like I found before, in my right armpit. I don't have insurance, and am thinking about buying a surgery kit, and doing it myself, fuck!!!

And thusly I testify:

1) Punctured own eardrum with a needle after having had connected it to an air pump. I had started with the observation that I could breathe out of my mouth and nose, but not my ears, so was testing the feasibility of doing so empirically. I was 6 (an early attempt at science). The absence of sound in that ear drum was very very very loud and very high-pitched and to this day I still sometimes get tinnitus in the ear. Not sure if this counts as self-surgery or empirical stupidity.

2) Regarding the self-removal of ankle implants: I had a screw through my ankle once for several months, holding it in place. Didn't itch much, just felt weird. Although that could have also been the morphine...

AWESOME! I think I need to use one of these for a Weird Science Friday. I got the suicide by pacemaker removal one, want a copy?

The high-carbon steel is its own answer. It's very brittle, and easy to break. Lower carbon content means it's softer and more malleable, thus it bends instead of breaking. Good sewing needles are rather hard, and there is a fine line between too hard and too soft. It's the same for knives and other metal tools.

As a adult teen, I had a large wart on my foot (nickel to quarter sized) that I cut off with some toenail scissors while watching some judge shows.

When I first began wearing contacts in my freshman year of High School my eye doctor warned me that, "wearing my contacts to bed would scratch my corneas". I have an astigmatism and she told me toric lenses have been known to do this. Being the forgetful young teenager I was, I wore them to bed one night and waking up the next morning I was scared to death I might have scratched my cornea. I took out my left contact but my right one would not come out. I tried and tried but the more I tried to pull out my contact the more it hurt. As it turns out I was actually pulling on the conjunctiva of my eyeball (the clear outer most layer) and I believe it was my aunt, who is a nurse, was present at the time and stopped me from further injuring my eye. No permanent damage, but my eye was red for at least a week and I stopped wearing contacts until my junior year of High School. Pretty unintelligent if I say so myself.

A few years ago I fell off my bike, and I got road rash on the palm of my hand, along with other parts of my body. Everything healed up fine, but I had some odd pain in my hand. It felt like there was a splinter or something underneath the skin.

I used rubbing alcohol to sanitize a table, and a scalpel from a dissection kit, and I washed my hands very thoroughly. I then made a small incision, maybe 2 cm long, where my hand hurt, in the middle of my palm. This was quite difficult; the pain makes it hard to cut yourself intentionally. I don't know how people who cut themselves for attention or whatever do it. I couldn't find any splinter or broken glass or anything like that. Thinking I might have cut in the wrong place, I made another small incision a couple millimeters away, and again, I couldn't find anything.

I bandaged up the two wounds, and they healed perfectly. Surprisingly, there isn't even a scar, and I don't remember which hand it was. The pain in my hand stopped. I wonder if rooting around in my skin could have stimulated the nerves responsible for pain and somehow caused them to stop sending a pain signal. Things worked out, whatever the cause.

Opportunity for people who perform their own surgeries! Everyone's favorite cable network: TLC just completed two awesome seasons of Extreme Couponing. Now we're looking to cast a new type of thrifty genius. Are you proud of your ability to save money? Are you (or is someone you know) the thriftiest person in America? If so, we want to hear from you!

Here's what I'll need to submit you for the show:

-Current Location
-Current Phone Number
-Skype Name (If you have one)
-Any close friends or family members who have opinions on your money-saving methods
-An explanation of all the EXTREME things you do to save money.

We are specifically looking to cast people who perform their own surgery.

Send all submissions to