Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tattoos & Healthy

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Getting a Tattoo should be carefully considered, not something to be rushed into or done when you have had one to many drinks. Remember, a tattoo is a permanent mark or design made on the body that cannot be removed unless you pay for expensive tattoo removal - which is not always 100% guaranteed to work!

Tattoos: Permanent body art
A tattoo is a permanent mark or design made on your skin with pigments inserted through pricks into the skin's top layer.

How is it done?
During the procedure, a needle that's connected to a small machine with tubes containing dye pierces the skin repeatedly an action that resembles that of a sewing machine. With every puncture, the needle inserts tiny ink droplets. The process, which may last up to several hours for a large tattoo, causes a small amount of bleeding and minor to potentially significant pain.

What are the risks?
Tattooed artwork involves breaching one of your body's main protective barriers the skin. This means you can be more susceptible to skin infections and other skin reactions. Specific risks include:
  • Blood-borne diseases. If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with the blood of an infected person, you can contract a number of serious blood-borne diseases. These include hepatitis C, hepatitis B, tetanus, tuberculosis and HIV the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Skin disorders. Your body may form bumps called granulomas around tattoo ink, especially if your tattoo includes red ink. Tattooing can also cause areas of raised, excessive scarring (keloids), if you're prone to them.
  • Skin infections. Tattoos can lead to local bacterial infections. Typical signs and symptoms of an infection include redness, warmth, swelling and a pus-like drainage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked clusters of potentially serious antibiotic-resistant skin infections to unlicensed tattoo artists who don't follow proper infection-control procedures. Some antibiotic-resistant skin infections can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and a painful, flesh-destroying condition called necrotizing fasciitis.
  • Allergic reactions. Tattoo dyes, particularly red dye, can cause allergic skin reactions, resulting in an itchy rash at the tattoo site. This may occur even years after you get the tattoo.
  • MRI complications. Rarely, tattoos or permanent makeup may cause swelling or burning in the affected areas during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. In some cases, such as when a person with permanent eyeliner has an MRI of the eye, tattoo pigments may interfere with the quality of the image.
Tattoo care
How you care for your new artwork depends on the type and extent of work done. Your tattoo artist should provide you with detailed instructions about how to care for the tattoo, such as cleaning the tattoo with soap and water, applying moisturizer regularly and avoiding sun exposure for at least the first few weeks.
Tattoos may take up to several days to heal. Don't pick at scabs, which increases the risk of infection and can damage the design and cause scarring.

Tattoo removal
A common problem with tattoos is dissatisfaction. Some tattoos fade. If the tattoo artist injects the color too deeply into your skin, the dye can drift causing a blurred design. You may also decide that the tattoo no longer fits your current image or that the once stylish design has become dated.
Tattoos are meant to be permanent, so their complete removal is difficult. Several removal techniques exist, but regardless of the method used, scarring and skin color variations are likely to remain. Methods include:
  • Laser surgery. This is the most effective way to reduce the appearance of a tattoo. Pulses of laser light pass through the top layer of skin and the energy of the light is absorbed by the pigment in the tattoo. This process creates a very low grade of inflammation and allows your body to process the small areas of altered pigment. You may require as many as 12 treatments over a year to lighten the tattoo, and the treatment might not completely erase it.
  • Dermabrasion. The tattoo area is chilled until numb, and the skin that contains the tattoo is sanded down to deeper levels. This generally isn't painful, but it may leave a scar.
  • Surgical removal. A doctor can surgically cut out the tattoo and stitch the edges back together, but this can leave a scar.
Tattoo Tips:
  • Go to a licensed tattoo artist
  • Think carefully about the design and remember the tattoo stays with you; something that is fashionable now may not be in the future.
  • A new tattoo is an open wound so listen to the advice of the tattoo artist to stop it getting infected.
  • Temporary or henna tattoos can be a good alternative to the real thing.