BODY modification enthusiasts who split their tongues as part of a growing trend have been warned they risk "horrific consequences" to their health.
The procedure - which involves cutting a person's tongue in half to create a reptile-like 'forked' effect - has become a global phenomenon in recent years.
But despite its popularity, experts believe few of those participating in the craze are aware of its potential impact on their long-term wellbeing.
"The tongue is the site of several major veins and arteries," said the Royal College of Surgeons of England and British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) and the Faculty of Dental Surgery (FDS) in a joint statement.
"Splitting the tongue can therefore cause considerable bleeding and carries a risk of significant blood loss.
"In addition, nerve damage can result in pain, altered sensation or numbness, which in some cases can be permanent."
Tongue-splitting also can also pose a threat to a person's ability to breathe, swallow and speak, the statement added.
Oral piercings - especially to the tongue and lips - risk similar long-term health issues despite being much less extreme in nature.
In March, the Court of Appeal found tongue-splitting to be illegal when performed by a body modification practitioner for cosmetic purposes, even in instances where consent has been obtained.
The ruling applies to England and Wales, but experts say the procedure's legal status across the rest of the UK is less clear.
"There is an urgent need for the law in other parts of the UK to be clarified," said Selina Master at the FDS.
"We are also concerned that despite the legal debate, the demand for tongue-splitting procedures may continue but simply be driven underground".
Ms Master added: "As dental surgeons, we've seen some of the horrific consequences of these procedures.
"It’s so important that people realise they are putting themselves at serious risk of significant blood loss, infection, nerve damage and problems being able to breath or swallow.
"We would strongly advise people not to have oral piercings or tongue splits, however if they do, it is crucial they see their dentist on a regular basis so that the impact on their oral health can be closely monitored.
"Never try to carry out one of these procedures on yourself, or others."