Narrator: The truth is tattoos are more popular than ever…
Johnny Hollywood: You may be sitting across from someone at a business meeting and little do you know they have an entire backpiece of a tattoo.
Narrator: Many getting tattooed for the first time are in their 20's.
Hayley Gaberlavage: It hurt. I mean I had to take a few deep breaths, but…
Narrator: …but, is there cause for concern?
Johnny Hollywood: They should be concerned. When they go into a shop they should first of all look around and see if it's clean.I think whether or not a shop is clean, how people are paying attention to just the environment is going to be your first clue as to whether or not thatshop pays attention to the health risks involved.What are the health risks?
Brunilda Nazario: Certainly anytime that you break the skin, or you abrade the skin, there's the risk of transmitting blood born illnesses like hepatitis.
Narrator: Or, like staff infections. A reputable tattoo studio will thoroughly sterilize all instruments after each session and use disposable needles and single-use inks.But the responsibility of keeping clean should also be imprinted on the person getting the tattoo:
Johnny Hollywood: It's amazing what people will let happen to their tattoo once they walk out the door.
Narrator: You should treat a fresh tattoo like an opened wound until it's had a chance to heal. And if you're planning on donating blood, you may have to wait for up to a year after being tattooed.Tattoos are sometimes used in certain clinical treatments: to pinpoint a target area for radiation therapy, or to augment certain types of reconstructive surgery for instance.In rare cases, some tattoos can actually interfere with certain medical procedures like M-R-Is:
Narrator (cont.): Having a tattoo applied can take several visits and cost several hundred dollars, depending on the complexity of the artwork. Having it removed can be even more involved:The removal method of choice these days is laser surgery. It's rare for insurance plans to cover the expense, which can run several hundred dollars per session
Scott Karempelis, MD: It's a lot more expensive to have it removed than have it put on and it's a lot more painful to have it removed than to have it put on.
Narrator: Intense pulses of various wavelengths of light actually breaks apart the pigment so that the body's own lymphatic system can absorb it away. Most tattoos can be removed without major scarring.Different light wavelengths are used for different colors, but some colors are more troublesome than others…And the closer the skin tone is to the color of the ink, the more tricky the procedure—a dark skinned person who has a tattoo made with dark ink, for example:
Scott Karempelis, MD: You do not want to put red or green ink in, because we may hit some of your pigment on the way in trying to remove it and you may end up with some lighter areas.
Narrator: In spite of cosmetic advances, tattoos are meant to be permanent. You can save yourself a lot of grief by doing a little research:
Johnny Hollywood: Too many people are willing to walk into a shop and either on impulse or they haven't thought about it, that haven't really researched who is a good artist;allow someone to put something on their body that's going to stay there for the rest of their lives.
Narrator: And that's the truth…For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.