What Is A Tattoo?

What is a tattoo? There are health risks to permanent tattoos. Getting one done by a professional tattooist can minimise the risks.

What is a tattoo?

A tattoo is a design on the skin that can be either permanent or non-permanent. Non-permanents are called temporary tattoos. The tattoo piece is pressed on dry skin while a piece of wet cloth is applied to the paper backing to remove it and later, the tattoo can be washed off.

Permanent tattoos on the other hand are made with tattoo needles. These needles are attached to needle bars that can punctures the skin at 50 to 3,000 times a minute. Professionals know how deep to pierce the skin to create a permanent line. Going too deep will cause pain to the person getting the tattoo, and not going deep enough will result in scratchy lines. The length of time it takes for the tattoo to be finished depends on the intricacy and size of the design.

Where did tattoos originate?

Nobody knows for sure where it originated from. There is evidence that it may be an ancient craft going all the way back to the ice age. There are mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with tattoos.

The word tattoo is believed to originate from the Tahitian word tattau. An entry in Captain James Cook's journal in the year 1768 mentions the word tattau in his encounter with Polynesians. The Tahitians taught the sailors the craft who in turn taught it to other sailors, and that is why tattoo is often associated with sailors.

What are the health risks?

There are health risks that are attached to getting a tattoo. They are tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B and C. The tattoo needles need to be sterilized after each use by using proper sterilizing equipment.

There are standards set out by The Alliance of Professional Tattooists which the professional tattooist should follow. Getting tattoos done by professionals who adhere to these rules will minimize the health risks.

Can a tattoo be removed?

There are several factors that must be considered for the successful removal of a tattoo:

1. Ink injected evenly on the same level of skin or many levels of skin? Chances are better if the ink was injected on the same level.

2. Size and location of the tattoo.

3. The age of the tattoo (how long ago was it done?) Newer ones are harder to take off.

4. How well the person will heal from the removal procedure.

Total and complete removal is never guaranteed. The pain from getting a tattoo is far less than the pain of getting it removed. The standard today for tattoo removal is with laser surgery. It is easier to remove certain colors than others, for example yellow and blue are the hardest to remove.

The technique used with this laser technology is called Q switching. There are three lasers that use this technique; the Q-switched Ruby, the Q-switched Alexandrite, the Q-switched Nd (YAG).

It usually takes more than one session to remove the tattoo. A side effect of this procedure is hyper- pigmentation and hypo-pigmentation. Hyper-pigmentation is where the skin color is darker than normal and hypo-pigmentation is where the skin color is lighter than normal.

Cost of tattoo removal

The cost is certainly high and would depend on several factors like how many sessions it would take to removal the tattoo. Health insurance will not cover this procedure so this would be a big out of pocket expenditure. So do think carefully before getting a tattoo and if you decide to get one, get it done by a professional.

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