Are Tattoos Going To Be The Death Of Us?

I love tattoos, Literally, Darling loves tattoos, and employers are becoming more accepting of tattoos—all good things, right? Tattoos are used around the world to decorate one’s body, as a method of self-expression, and to even show brand loyalty. It is estimated that one in four young adults now has a tattoo, and I’m betting that statistic is rapidly increasing. But, our parents and grandparents were right about one thing—getting a tattoo can be risky business if you don’t take some safety precautions.

Basic Tips

Of course there are the standard worries that needles won’t be clean, you’ll get HIV or hepatitis, and meet an untimely death. Here are several ways to avoid some gnarly consequences:

  • Scope out the tattoo parlor that you’re considering becoming a patron of. I don’t know why, but I’ve yet to see a tattoo and piercing establishment that is not in a sketchy part of town, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t taking the proper precautions.
  • Ask to see health and safety certificates, the artist’s training credentials, and even the cleanliness of their tools.
  • Excellent places will utilize single-use equipment that come sealed in sterile packaging.
  • The tattoo artist will wash their hands and wear non-latex gloves during the process.
  • The tattoo artist will be friendly and work with you to create the product that you desire.
  • Also, don’t decide to get a tattoo on a whim. Often tattoo artists will inquire what sparked your interest in getting inked to make sure you aren’t under the influence, and that you aren’t making a rash decision.
  • Usually, prior to getting inked, you will have to sign an agreement that you’re of a certain age, you won’t hold the parlor liable for any unforeseen consequences, etc. That being said, READ that paper before you sign it and make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time. After you’ve signed that paper, it’s going to be a lot harder to press charges if something nasty happens after you’re tattooed.

Gnarly Toxic Bits

Lately, there are some additional concerns that the inks used in tattoos are toxic and going to cause cancer for consumers further down the road. The primary concern is that when the inks are injected below the skin, carcinogenic bits will break off and spread to other parts of the body to wreak havoc. Often, those sneaky bits will end up in the body’s lymph nodes (your body’s filtering system), but some tiny particles can still make it through, and might go on to negatively impact the body’s bone marrow and immune system. But, on the other hand, tattoo inks are usually stable, which is what makes them permanent. Sunlight can sometimes cause ink compounds to break down, but that’s why artists will tell you to cover up fresh tattoos if you’re going to be out in the sun. There is no significant evidence that getting a tattoo causes increases in cancers, such as liver and skin, but it’s worth keeping tabs on any recent research, and being aware of the risks.

Some additional risks include: allergic reactions to some of the ink colors; scarring; knots around the tattoo because the body perceives it as foreign; and some MRI complications. Most countries regulate tattoo inks through a government agency (such as the U.S. FDA) because they are considered cosmetic products. But, often the government agency doesn’t know something is wrong with a product until a consumer is adversely affected, and thus there are definitely risks associated with getting a tattoo. Research is ongoing, and if you take the proper precautions, I don’t think there’s any sizeable health risk to getting a tattoo—obviously, I would hope not, because I have three…

Regret Is A Dangerous Thing

Laser removal of unwanted tattoos might actually cause more damage than the original tattoo. As I said before, tattoo inks are largely stable which allows them to be permanent. BUT, laser removal acts by shattering the pigments, which renders them unstable, and increases the likelihood that they’ll float around in your body. Apparently, laser removal almost stopped in Germany because of these risks. So please PLEASE make sure you’re committed to your tattoo because relying on laser removal as an “out” might not be the wisest move.

Bring Your Grammar Books

Finally, make sure your tattoo artist can spell and has decent grammar. While you might have “no regrets” stamped on your wrist, you will most certainly have regrets if it’s misspelled.

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Do you have any gnarly tattoo stories? Do you have any tattoos? Tweet us your pictures and stories @litdarling or comment below!

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