A History of Magnet Implantation

Table of Contents


Implantation

  1. Magnet Placement
  2. Coating Developments

After Care

  1. Magnetic Suspension

Hazards

  1. Electromagnets
  2. Full Body Scanners
  3. Metal Detectors
  4. MRIs

Portions of this article are paraphrased from an interview with Steve Haworth.

Magnetic implanting was initially theorized in the mid to late 90s by Steve Haworth, a medical device manufacturer, and Jesse Jarrell, a professional body modification expert. Initially, the implants were intended to connect to exterior attachments such as rings or horns, with the intent being purely cosmetic. But after talking to a friend who had a piece of steel lodged in his pinky finger, Haworth discovered that this friend could acknowledge electromagnetic fields by feeling the pull they had on the metal. This led to the idea to encapsulate tiny magnets in the skin with the intent of feeling these same fields more efficiently.

Implantation


The concept is simple. A small magnet is coated in a bio-inert material that protects it from interacting with the biochemistry of the body. The patient's finger or hand is numbed by the use of local or general anesthetics. It is then implanted under the skin just below the epidermis where the nerve endings are located. The implant works by stimulating these nerves with tiny vibrations caused by the interaction between this magnet and the exterior magnetic fields. This allows for sensation of magnetic fields in normal magnets electronic devices of all kinds, especially those with transformers or wire coils such as power converters, microwaves and electric motors.

Magnet Placement

Initially, the placement of these magnets was disregarded. They were put into fingers or on the back of the hand due to the plethora of nerves inside the human hand. However, various rules in the placement of the magnets have been established since then to ensure the implant is safe and will not reject.

  1. Firstly, implants should never be placed between bones and fingertips. Placing the implant in this orientation can crush the implant, either damaging the tissue around it or piercing the bio-protective seal around the magnet. This can cause rejection, necrosis, or poisoning from the substances within the implant.
  1. Implants should also be limited in size. When an implant is too large, the blood vessels on either side of the implant have trouble pumping blood to the skin directly above the implant, meaning the skin can turn necrotic and the implant can reject.

Coating Developments

When Haworth first implanted magnets, he used a bio-inert dip coating. This coating made a sort of bubble shape that was far more likely to fail than today's coatings. Newer magnets are coated through injection molding and are not subject to the same failures.

After Care


Like any implant, a magnet needs to be left alone for a while after implantation to maintain safety. The more it gets moved, has pressure applied to it, and damages the cut while it's trying to heal, the more likely it can get infected or simply reject.

Magnetic Suspension

Another rule to follow when dealing with magnets is to not leave anything hanging from or attached to the implant for more than 20 minutes. Between the magnet and the object it's attracted to is a layer of skin which, when pressure is applied from these two objects, loses blood flow and can become necrotic. This is the reason Haworth and Jarrell's initial idea to attach implements to the magnet implants cosmetically is not viable.

Hazards


When digital magnet implants were first theorized, there were many fears involving their reaction to certain things in the world. This section is for analyzing the potential risk of those occurrences.

Electromagnets

Electromagnets are powerful magnets powered by an outside power source. They are very dangerous to be around with any sort of implant or jewelry because they can rip them out of you. Avoid like the plague.

Full Body Scanners

Full body scanners have largely replaced metal detectors in airports around the globe. There is no available evidence to say whether or not magnetic implants will show up on the images or whether or not the TSA will allow them through after finding them.

Metal Detectors

Some airports in the United States and other countries still rely on metal detectors as security measures or simply keep them as a plan B when full body scanners are not available. Metal detectors are not thought to be issues with magnetic implants thanks to the plethora of other medical implants. The staff of the airport are trained to make accommodations for metal hip replacements, stints, and implants, so as long as you are open about having an implant, they should be able to let you through without much trouble. If you receive any trouble while trying to get through airport security, you can request a pat down or a hand metal detector scan. The hand detector will pick up your magnet, but it will usually be dismissed as long as you explain to the staff what it is. The larger detector should not pick up the implant as it has been calibrated to ignore minor metal pieces like coins, zippers, and buttons, but if it does, request a pat down.

MRIs

MRI machines are medical devices used to scan the human body through magnetic resonance imaging. Obviously, with the word magnetic in the name, they can have reactions with other magnets, including implanted ones. Originally it was thought they would rip the implant straight out of the body like any other piece of metal, but certain people who have magnets implanted have reported only a powerful vibration to slight pain.

Magnet in MRI MachineCassox tests the sensitivity of magnets in MRI machines.