It most definitely is an actual professional thing. There is no reason to link professionally done scarification pieces to self-harm. The motives behind a form of body modification that happens to involve cutting or burning skin are different from self harm.
As far as the risk level involved, I’d personally rate it higher than tattoos, but still safe as long as you go to a professional. Don’t let Bob from the next block over do it in his garage, just like any modification. The reason I would rate it higher risk than a tattoo is that instead of essentially abrading the skin (equivalent of like…rug burn or scraping your knee on the pavement maybe), you’re cutting into or removing skin, leaving the area more open than a tattoo would. And if you’re not with an experienced artist or someone working under an experienced artist, they could do something like cut too deep or removing too much skin, making more scar tissue than intended and healing longer than necessary.
If any professionals see this, go ahead and comment. I’d love to hear your response to how ‘dangerous’ scarification is.