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When Tattoos Are No Longer Fun

Aug 29, 2008
We received an email last week that we'd like to share from "Sherri" (Not her real name):
"I'm worried that my younger brother has become a tattoo addict. It started off innocently enough. I even helped him to get his first tattoo when he was visiting me in Berkeley. He thought it was a very California souvenir, and he was eighteen, so I thought if I couldn't stop him, I might as well help him, and besides, what's the harm?

Even then, though, I inspected the tattoo parlor with an eagle eye; making sure that it was clean, that the needles were new, and that they used autoclave sterilization. Having grown up in the eighties, I was bombarded with AIDS fears, and I wanted to make sure that little brother didn't catch something because of a dirty tattoo needle. The parlor passed inspection, the tattoo, was applied, and he left California proudly sporting a snake tattoo on his shoulder, and I thought nothing more of it.

Now it's almost ten years, and five tattoos, later. I wince whenever he shows me a new addition to his body art gallery, and I hope that he's as careful with his choice of tattoo artists as I was for him. These days there's the risk of getting Hepatitis A or B, and AIDS still lurks about in the background like an old movie monster; almost comfortingly familiar, yet still scary as hell. Yes, reputable tattoo artists can make sure that they use the latest sterilization techniques, and I have met some who are almost religious in their cleanliness. Yet still, there's that nagging thought in the back of my mind; that blood-borne pathogens can find an opening through the smallest of cuts, and from the times that I've seen tattoos being applied, I can tell you that blood is definitely a component of this art.

With the advent of reality shows in tattoo parlors like "Miami Ink" and actors making body art trendy, tattoos are more popular than ever, and I wonder how many people have gotten a nasty disease in the process of getting a tattoo. I do think that tattoos are safe, if they're done correctly and sanitarily. Yet I wonder about tattoos done by amateurs, or as a favor to a friend, or even of a drop of blood falling where it shouldn't in a carefully run parlor. I've thought of getting a tattoo myself many times, but every time I've chickened out when I think of the risk involved. The next time my brother shows me another tattoo he's acquired, I'll do what I always do: tell him it looks great, and hope for the best. "

One thing Sherri should remember: Sometimes even the most rebellious young person thinks better of a particular tattoo he got when he was more impulsive. If her brother ever decides he regrets his latest tattoo, removal options are available.
About the Author
Jonathan Scott has been in the tattoo industry for over 20 years. He is an expert on the application of tattoos and serves as the in house expert on tattoo removal for
Nuviderm Tattoo Fade and Removal.
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