Next time you look in the mirror, examine your ears. Would you want them to look like pointy elf ears? A skyrocketing number of people do, and they’re spending hundreds of dollars on a new surgical procedure to re-shape the top of their ear cartilage into a point. Experts say that elf ears first became popular with Star Trek_’s pointy-eared character, Mr. Spock. Recently, pointy-eared characters have been featured in everything from the blockbuster movie _The Lord of the Rings, to the HBO TV show Bored to Death. People used to get their fix by wearing fake elf ears, but now, they want the real thing.

Why? Experts say it’s because pointy ears are the latest way for people to express their individuality. They’re like modern-day tattoos or blue hair. Experts warn that most young adults don’t realize how risky the surgery is. In fact, it isn’t approved by the medical board. So doctors can’t perform the surgery - only tattoo artists. Since they’re not licensed to prescribe painkillers or anesthesia, you’re wide awake while your ear cartilage is painfully cut and reshaped. Steve Haworth is one body modification artist who performs the procedure. He slices the top of the cartilage and then sews it back together in a point.

The biggest drawback? Ear surgery is irreversible. Dr. Arthur Perry is the author of “Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery.” He says that once your ear is re-shaped, it can’t be operated on again. Otherwise, you run the risk of major infection, which could deform your ears for life. So, even if you’re confident that elf ears would look great on you, before you get surgery, buy a fake pair of ears and wear them 24-7 for a few months. You may just realize that your ears look, and feel best, au natural.