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WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF TATTOOS?

Tattoos have been around forever with the earliest evidence of tattooing dating back to 3000 BC! This is fascinating when you think about it – because a tattoo is basically a deposition of pigment or colored ink under the skin using needles. The tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine (almost like a sewing machine) and each puncture of the skin inserts pigment under the skin.

HOW DID TATTOOS BECOME SUCH A SIGNIFICANT PART OF OUR CULTURE?

We’ve definitely seen an increase in the popularity of tattoos because of dramatic shift from a show of social defiance to an acceptable display of self-expression and an art form. Tattooing has become mainstream. 24% of Americans from the ages of 18-60 have at least one tattoo. That’s a long way from the late 50’s when tattoos really started to appear in Western culture. Clearly, tattoos aren’t just for bikers and sailors any longer! Just watch an NBA or NFL game!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISKS AND SIDE AFFECTS OF TATTOOS?

All of the risks and side effects associated with tattoos are related to the introduction of the pigment (ink) under the skin. Adverse reactions can stem from the simple process of puncturing the skin and introducing the pigment with a needle.

This disrupts the integrity of the skin and can give a portal of entry to bacteria; resulting in allergic reactions; skin infections, the transmission of infectious diseases, along with immunological reactions and hepatitis. The most common complications are pain and itching.

The risk has been significantly reduced because of better health standards that mandate disposable needles and using fresh ink for each tattoo. State authorities oversee tattoo practices and vary locally – so check your state’s guidelines.

CAN TATTOOS CAUSE CANCER?

Recently, research has begun on the long-term effects of tattoos for a number of reasons: Inks can contain harmful ingredients because they are not regulated by the FDA (They considers inks to be cosmetic), therefore, there is no oversight.

Some tattoo inks are made from heavy metals. For example, reds can be made from mercury; yellows and greens from lead; whites from titanium dioxide. These metals have been linked to health issues including cancer. Other inks are made with the same ingredients found in printer ink and car paint!

Recent studies have discovered that ink injected by tattoo needles containing hazardous substances does not stay localized but travels to other parts of the body.

Tattoo ink has been found in the other parts of the skin, around blood vessels and in lymph nodes. We don’t know what that means long-term.  So as far as tattoos causing cancer, the jury is still out about the long-term effects – but you should be aware of this when you decide to get a tattoo.

THERE WAS A STORY IN THE NEWS RECENTLY ABOUT A MAN DYING AFTER SWIMMING WITH A NEW TATTOO. WHAT ARE SOME RULES TO FOLLOW AFTER GETTING TATTED?

Yes, and this was an avoidable tragedy. What seems to have occurred was the young man went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico 5 days after getting a tattoo. Remember, the insertion of the needle disrupts the integrity of the skin and can give a way of entry of bacteria.

In an open body of water, this young man was infected with a vibrio vulnificus which is a bacterium that lives in warm brackish seawater. It’s normally harmless because unbroken skin protects us – but with a new tattoo, bacteria can enter the body and cause a local infection. In this case, the infection became overwhelming  causing sepsis and death. That’s why is it very important to follow instructions carefully after the procedure to avoid complications.

IS IT TRUE THAT IF YOU HAVE A TATTOO, YOU CANNOT DONATE OR TRANSFER BLOOD?

Great question. You must wait 12 months after getting a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis. A tattoo is acceptable if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity following state guidelines. For blood transfusions, check with your local hospital and when donating blood, discuss your tattoo history with the health historian at the time of donation.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RISKS OF GETTING A TATTOO REMOVED?

One of the most common tattoo complications is REGRET! So, make sure you want a tattoo, choose it carefully, have no regrets and hopefully don’t get to this point. But if you do – the good news is, tattoos can be removed by a laser treatment. It usually takes multiple treatments and sometimes can result in scarring.

Covering a tattoo with another bad version is no longer necessary! Tattoo-removal technology has greatly improved, but it can be painful and sometimes takes multiple treatments. But as always, find a reputable dermatologist in your area to do the procedure.

Tattoos can be an awesome way for a person to express themselves, however precautions should be taken.

TEXT YOUR QUESTIONS TO 646464 AND THE DOCTOR WILL ANSWER ON BLACK AMERICAWEB.COM 

Q. Dr. does tattoos effect psychological effects?

A. One of the biggest complications of getting a tattoo is regret.  That feeling can affect you psychologically.  Make sure you are absolutely sure you want to get the tattoo and realize that it will be a permanent part of you.

Q. What about branding?

A. Branding is a process of burning the skin to cause a scar.  The risks include infection if not properly cared for and keloid formation.

Q. Can you keloid from tattoos?

A. Yes, you can keloid from tattoos.  Any trauma to the skin can cause a keloid.

Q. Dr. Karen. What is the risk of getting a tattoo on your face?

A. The same risks apply for tattoos on any part of the body which includes allergic reactions, infections, scars and immune reactions.

Q. Do tattoos affect the brain cells?

A. It has been reported that some nanoparticles may cause toxic effects in the brain and nerve damage. Nanoparticles have been found in tattoo ink. Further research is needed.

Q. Does the amount of tattoos play a role in the infections or interference with the MRI so if you only have 1 how likely is your risk versus 8 tattoos?

A. It’s the content in the ink not the number of tattoos.  Check with your tattoo artist on the exact ingredients of the ink used in all of your tattoos.  The heavy metals in the tattoo ink cause the problems with the MRI.

Q. Does laser removal leave a permanent scar?

A. The risks associated with laser removal of a tattoo are rare but include infection, lack of complete pigment removal and permanent scarring and skin discoloration.

Q. Do body piercings, such as daith piercings have the same level of risks as tattoos?

A. The main risks of piercing the cartilage are infections and possible contact allergy to the metal.

Q.Are Hanna tattoos more harmful than real ones?

A.Temporary tattoos are not risk-free. There is a risk of allergic reactions that may be severe and long outlast the temporary tattoos themselves.

Q. If tattooing involves ink, what does lasering off a tattoo involve? Is there more ink involved and what are the risks of the laser?

A. Tattoo removal is done with a laser which releases a pulse of energy to the tattoo to heat and shatter the ink. The risks associated with laser removal of a tattoo include infection, lack of complete removal, permanent scarring and skin discoloration.

Q. I’m a dark skin brother and I’m considering getting a tattoo however color is an issue for me are there shades of the color that can be used for darker skin?

A. Of course, there are colors for you!  Find a tattoo artist who has experience tattooing people with your skin tone.  They will be able to show you examples of their work and help you achieve the tattoo you desire.

Q. I have a tattoo on my back, that just itches so bad that I literally have to scratch so much/hard tip it leaves little scabbing on the back…what is up with that?

A. One of the risks of getting a tattoo is having an allergic reaction to the ink.  That may be what you are experiencing. I suggest you see a dermatologist, they will be able to help you.

Q.What are the effects of a tattoo and lupus

A. There is no specific problem that has been associated with tattoos in people with lupus.  It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before having the procedure

Q. About blood transfusion, Can you give blood when you have tattoos?

A. You must wait 12 months after getting a tattoo if the tattoo was applied in a state that does not regulate tattoo facilities. This requirement is related to concerns about hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases.  A tattoo is acceptable if the tattoo was applied by a state-regulated entity following state guidelines. You can check with your local government to review the state tattoo guidelines.

Q. What if you get a tattoo to cover a burn scar will that how will that affect your body?

A. If you get a tattoo to cover a burn scar your risks are the same which include, allergic reactions, scars, blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis, skin infection, and MRI complications.

Q. Do you recommend getting a tattoo if one has an autoimmune disease?

A. There is no specific problem that has been associated with tattoos in people with lupus. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor before having the procedure.

Q. Is there more risk depending on what area of the body you get the tattoo?

A.The risks are same for skin tattoos.

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