Tattoos and piercings
It can transform your body into a work of art, but rush in without thinking and you may regret it. TheSite looks at tattoos and piercings.
- A tattoo is a permanent design using coloured ink pigment punctured deep into the skin.
- Some find the pain hard to handle. Others believe it's an important part of the process, and go with it.
- If you're under 18 it's illegal to get a tattoo.
- Tattoos must be performed by professional tattooists under totally hygienic conditions.
- To avoid the risk of infections like tetanus or even HIV, be sure the tattooist uses a new needle and tube from a sealed packet, and that the ink is in disposable pots.
- Know exactly what design you want and where.
- Talk to the tattooist, then go away and think about it.
- Before you get tattooed, be aware that removal nowadays involves ultrasound treatment, which can be expensive.
- Always follow the tattooist's advice about after care.
- Before committing yourself, talk to the piercer about their techniques.
- Although there is no legislation controlling body piercing, some piercers are regulated by their local authority. This means they must adhere to certain standards in order to receive an official certificate. If in doubt, ask!
- The use of injectable anaesthetics in the practice of body piercing is also currently illegal. Sprays and gels are often used, but an element of pain is inevitable.
- Always follow the piercer's advice about after care.
Temporary tattoos (either henna or transfers) and body jewellery are difficult to miss on the high street. If you're up for turning your body into a canvas, why not give it a trial run first. That way, you can walk away intact if you feel it's not for you. Even if you're totally sold on the idea, it's a good idea to wait another month or so before committing yourself. Just to be 100% sure you're making the right move.
Gary Hudson, 25, explains why he had his tattoos removed:
I've got three tattoos, all done when I was under 18: a frog on my forearm; a bird on my shoulder; and a snake somewhere the sun doesn't shine. At the time it was a buzz, as it helped me stand out from the crowd. But after I left college my attitude changed. I didn't want to stand out. I wanted a job!
The more I saw other blokes with tattoos the more I'd think how sad it made them look. Then it dawned on me that people might be drawing the same conclusions about me! So when I heard that it was possible to remove tattoos without leaving ugly great scars it didn't take me long to make an appointment.
Going to see the doctor was a bit like going to see the tattooist, just more expensive. He looked at the work I wanted doing, talked me through the process, then gave me a price. Just over £1000 for six sessions. I'd already been told it would be costly, so I was prepared for the shock and happy for him to start straight away.
First off, we both donned our protective glasses, then the doctor started tracing a laser gun over each design. Basically, the intense light it shoots out heats up the tattoo ink and breaks it down so it can be absorbed into the skin.
It is painful, but no more so than having the tattoo done in the first place. It's a different kind of pain, however. Getting tattooed is all about a needle whizzing in and out of the surface of your skin, while this was more like being hit by a very fine blow torch. It's noisy too, and leaves you smelling like pork chops.
You don't see instant results, but in the few weeks between each session I could see the tattoos were fading. About a fortnight after my last session, they'd vanished completely. There's a very slight difference in skin tone now, as if I've been on holiday and worn two types of sunscreen, but I can live with that. It may not have helped me get the job I'd been after, but it certainly gave me the confidence not to sit there pulling my shirt cuffs down at the interview.
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