'Bagel head' fad carries risks, teens warned

The new Japanese youth fashion fad, "bagel head", induced with saline injections to the forehead carries inherent risks of infection and even meningitis, a respected skin specialist has warned.

The body modification fashion craze came to light in an episode of the Taboo cable TV programme, produced by National Geographic.

It showed three Japanese teenagers receiving a saline injection of around 400ml in the forehead, which then swelled up. A thumb is then pressed into the centre, creating  the "bagel", or doughnut, shape. The process takes around two hours.

Dr Jirot Sindhvananda of the Institute of Dermatology, said the degree of risk depends on the amount and concentration of the injected saline solution. The muscle on the forehead is a sponge-like tissue which is quite thin and attached to the skull, he added. This area swells easily and these injections may be harmful, with increased risk of infection or even of contracting meningitis.

Though the effect is temporary and wears off in 16-24 hours, Dr Jirot warned Thai teenagers not to imitate the Japanese fad.

The extreme body modification was introduced to Japan by Ryoichi “Keroppy” Maeda, a photographer and journalist. It has been popular since 2007, with parties for people with bubbly foreheads about twice a year in Japan.

The show generated huge interest on Thai web boards, with posters on the Pantip forum questioning the beauty of it, and many saying it is downright scary.