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Think Before You Ink

Choosing a tattoo artist

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Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. But how do you find the right tattoo artist, and if you end up regretting it, tattoo removal options?

Tattoos have been around for thousands of years. Over that time they have taken on a variety of meanings and uses, including ornamentation, healing, or punishment.

In recent years, people in all walks of life have been getting tattoos as an expression of individuality, as a fashion statement, or as a way to memorialize a loved one.

Tattooing practices have come a long way since Neolithic times. Luckily–because the risk of infections is reduced. But if the procedure is not done using the strictest hygienic practices, there is still a risk of getting blood-borne diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis B and C, as well as streptococcal and staphylococcal skin infections.

Choose a Good Tattoo Studio

Shop around. Before you book your tattoo appointment, know what design you want, and make sure you’ve thoroughly checked out the artist and the studio. Visit several studios and meet several artists.

Go by word of mouth. Talk to people you know about their experiences. Would they recommend the studio? Do they have any concerns?

Ask to see the tattoo artist’s portfolio. How long has he or she been a tattoo artist? Does he or she take time to answer your questions? Are the inks that will be used plant-based and
free of heavy metals?

Check that the studio is immaculately clean. All surfaces should be spotless, including the floor.

Ensure the artist uses sterile techniques. All the needles and tubes to be used are in sealed, sterile, single-use packages, and the tattoo ink is poured into disposable containers to be used only for you. The artist uses new sterile gloves. Ask to see the autoclave, the machine used to sterilize nondisposable equipment. Has it been recently tested?

Tattoo artist Sandra Coles says that quality tattoo studios are regularly inspected and follow guidelines developed by government health agencies. “But,” says Coles, “it’s still a case of buyer beware.”

When the Thrill is Gone

Getting rid of a tattoo is much like ending a long-term relationship; it can be painful and expensive.

The most common method of parting ways with a tattoo is laser removal. Lasers, which are high-intensity light beams, are aimed at the tattoo, causing the pigments to break down so they can be swept away by the immune system.

Depending on the size and depth of the tattoo, removal can take anywhere from two to 10 sessions, usually lasting 15 to 30 minutes each. Some report that the procedure is more painful than getting the tattoo in the first place, and it can cost can anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on how many sessions are needed.

The risks of tattoo removal include infection, scarring, and permanent skin-pigment changes.

Just as it’s important to check the qualifications of a tattoo artist, it is also important to check up on the person who is removing it.

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