Wednesday, August 29, 2007

To tattoo or not to tattoo…

Tattooing is hot now. With television shows like TLC’s Miami Ink and the new LA Ink, and A&E’s Inked, more people know more about tattooing than ever before. I know I do. I didn’t really have preconceived notions – I just didn’t have any in particular. One thing I have learned though, by watching Miami Ink is – WOW – are some of those tattoo artists incredible. I can’t get over the beauty of some of those tattoos. Mind you, some of them are totally not my taste, but I can appreciate the artwork – the detail, the shading, the colours. Wow.

Getting a tattoo should involve some research. While the decision to get one can be spontaneous, choosing the artist and location shouldn’t be. Health issues and prevention of infection should be the most important issues, regardless of how good a particular artist may be. What good is the most beautiful tattoo if you get infected with a fatal infection in the process?

Of course, many things we do in life carry risk; we just need to be as careful as possible, that’s all. So, what are the health risks of body art?

Infections from contaminated equipment are limited now that reputable shops and artists use single-use needles. However, it is important to verify that this is really happening in the shop you choose. Allergic reactions are always possible when you introduce something new to your body. In this case, there could be an allergic reaction to the dye. It’s not common, but a possibility. The has a section on tattoos, the risks and the care after receiving one.

Now, what about those people who got their tattoo on a whim and now don’t want them any more? Has there been anything new in tattoo removal? Unfortunately not. The methods for removing tattoos can be time consuming and expensive. Right now, the options are laser treatment, surgery, or chemical removal.

Lasers are used in plastic surgery to remove spots on the skin, from freckles to tattoos. The light from the laser is absorbed by the tattoo ink and this causes the pigment to break up, and hopefully disappear. The number of laser sessions can depend on the amount of colour in the tattoo, the size, and the complexity. Having the tattoo removed by surgery is considered pretty radical. To do this, the surgeon literally removes the skin with the tattoo pigment, but this can lead to scarring as well, so this option is really one that needs to be weighed properly before a decision is made. Finally, chemical removal, like dermabrasion, is another way to remove tattoos. This involves sanding down or scraping the skin to remove the tattoo gradually (after the area has been frozen). This can cause scarring and can take multiple sessions before the treatment is complete.

Will I ever get a tattoo? I’ve learned never to say never. If my kids do, I’d encourage them to really think about it first, consider the long-term ramifications of how the tattoo they want in the space they want may look in years to come. Two of the three are legal adults, so it’s not as if I really have any say in it anyway. But, if it’s something they really want, it’s for them to decide. I just want them to be safe.

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1 comment:

Nan Higginson said...


I'd never get a tattoo, but do agree that they can become impressive samples of body art.

Today I was at Lowe's searching for sinks when a young mom came by, bare armed covered with elaborate tattoos. I definitely prefer them over pierced tongues and pierced private places, but the mom was such a mass of tattoos that she clashed with her own clothing. Her arms looked like her muscles were writhing beneath her skin.

Her two kids looked very plain by comparison. I wondered if the mom ever got flack from her kids, or if she was merely banned from future PTA meetings!

Write On!