They say beauty is only skin deep – but fans of an unusual new craze known as ‘corset piercing’ believe it goes further than that.

‘Body modification’ fans across the country are trying the unique piercing, which involves sticking hoops into the skin by hand and then threading them with ribbon.

But a cosmetic surgeon has warned it is ‘extremely painful’ and could cause horrendous permanent scars and infections.

Corset piercing, which can cost up to £300, can be applied to any part of the body where the skin is loose.

Popular areas include the back, ribs and throat. Some fans endure an hour of pain to achieve the effect – but it is only temporary and grows out after a few weeks, leaving scars.

Kevin Hancock, of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: ‘It seems absolutely barking to me.

‘It would be extremely painful and it’s only temporary. I can’t believe people are going out with these things on display.

‘They’re open to any sort of infection. It’s verging on masochistic.’

But Laura Hunt, who carries out the procedure at her Dragstrip studio in Southampton and has tried it herself, said: ‘It’s not dangerous because it’s a surface piercing and doesn’t go deep enough.

‘It’s an open wound so it has to be cleaned to prevent infection – it’s just like any other piercing.’