They are often a way for teens to rebel. Others just think they're cool.
Either way, the effects of extreme piercings and tattoos are long lasting. Sometimes, the decisions you make while you're young can hold you back as an adult, leaving many people looking for ways to erase their past.
Louie Loniewski pierced his ears just after his 18th birthday. It didn't take long for the tiny holes in his ears to stretch out big enough to fit a 3-quarter-inch steel plug.
Louie said his friends all had them, and they were just "part of the scene" he was in.
At the time, Louie admits he wasn't thinking about what kind of consequences he might face later in life by altering his appearance.
"When you're younger you're not thinking about those things, you're only thinking a couple months ahead at the most," he said.
A few months ago, when he went to follow his dreams of joining the Navy, the 22-year old was told that the gages in his ears would likely keep him from getting in.
"The Navy, you know, they want everyone to look professional."
That's when he turned to plastic surgeon Dr. David Magilke with the Portland Laser and Surgery Center.
Magilke has some in his office at least once a month looking to erase their past.
"Clothing and hairstyle and dying your hair … those are not permanent, but when you start to do things that really alter your body, cosmetic surgery or piercings, they can be permanent or difficult to repair," said Magilke.
Even in a city like Portland, where eccentric body piercings and tattoos are more common, many young adults are forced to change their appearance through surgery in order to start their careers.
A change like that comes at a price. Sewing your ears back up can cost a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
Loniewski said it's money well-spent.
"Now that I have this done, I can talk to my recruiter and I'm sure he'll take me a little bit more seriously."