50% of the people between 18 and 35 have tattoos on their bodies, but 1 in every 4 people regrets getting it. Many young patients instantly regret their decision to get a tattoo, and have confirmed to their doctors that they did it without previously researching more on the matter. They may look great, but tattoos have a wide range of social and health issues, some of them pretty shocking.
The ink goes deeper than just a few layers of skin
One of the main tattoo concerns is the ink’s effect on our immune system. Some inks can be toxic and contain carcinogenic compounds that don’t comply with international health safety regulations. According to one study, 83% of black inks have carcinogens in them and shouldn’t be considered safe.
In 2013, the European Society of Tattoo and Pigment Research was established with the goal of educating people about the fundamental facts of tattooing. The group identified copper, barium, mercury and other dangerous chemicals in tattoo inks, which were most often not listed on the container.
Even the FDA has been invested in tattoo inks recently. They admit that most of the inks are actually industrial-grade colors suitable for automobile paint and printers ink, with the agency now examining how these chemicals break down in the body.
Tattoos can lead to errors in medical testing and treatment
The metal-based inks can interfere with magnetic resonance imaging, which are luckily rare. However, radiologists have seen them occur, and are not recommending iron-based inks. On the other hand, pathologists report finding tattoo ink in surgical biopsy specimens of lymph nodes.
In 2015, a woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer which spread to her lymph nodes. During the surgical procedure that was supposed to remove the nodes, the doctors discovered that the cancerous cells are actually tattoo ink. This is one of the many cases of misdiagnosis because of a tattoo.
They may cause infections
The risk of bacterial infections also goes up when you get a tattoo. People have been reporting staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas infections due to poor sterilization of the instruments or poor skin preparation. The staph infections are pretty serious, and may not even be resolved with antibiotics. 3% of all tattoos get infected, and more than 4% of tattooed people experience pain which lasts longer than a month.
A few years ago, an epidemic of mycobacterial skin infections in 22 states across the USA was attributed to a few tattoo ink brands. The CDC stopped the infection from spreading by doing intense research. At the moment, many experts link lupus-like symptoms, lichen planis and sarcoidosis to tattoo ink – all these problems are more serious than an infection and may leave scars on your skin.
One recent study has linked ink with hepatitis-C. Hepatitis is 10 times more infectious than HIV, and is often transmitter through tattoo needles. The American Red Cross Association doesn’t allow blood donations from people tattooed out of regulated tattoo studios, which shows how big the problem is.
Youthful decision with adult implications
The main reason people regret getting tattoos is not doing more research when they got them at a young age. The second main regret is because the tattoo doesn’t fit their current lifestyle. Whether it’s a name, person or some other thing, the perception and meaning of a tattoo are in flux, which can create problems later in life.
Tattoos also have a different meaning for different people. The first person who will get a barbed wire tattoo may be seen as a mold-breaker, but the 100th person is only seen as a follower of trends. Plus, most people think that a visible tattoo can harm their business prospects and job hunting, and they’re right.
According to Harris Poll researchers, older people are less tolerant of visible tattoos as their job position progresses. People over 50 are tolerant of athletes having tattoos, and the acceptance decreases significantly in the cases of doctors, teachers and presidential candidates.
Of course, people who live in a family with tattoos are lest stigmatized if they get one, but the stigma and victimization reoccurs in workplaces of higher learning.
Getting a tattoo is a life-changing experience, and for many people, making a life-changing decision when they’re young ends up with regret. As the tattoo market grows, so does the tattoo removal market. Laser tattoo removal centers are rapidly growing and have become a multi-million business in recent years.
Some tattoos can’t be removed
Current lasers have limitations to the colors they can erase. Plus, darker-colored people have less success in tattoo removal with certain lasers and need extra sessions to avoid damage to their skin layers.
The laser actually shatters the pigment particles under the skin, which increases the risk of infections and scarring. Big tattoos are even more difficult to remove and require sessions that could last for a year or two.
Laser tattoo removal complications include scarring, blistering and darkening of the ink. As technology progresses, some of the laser limitations will be reduced and the future is certainly brighter. However, getting a tattoo removed at the moment is still a big challenge.
With so many young people deciding on a tattoo, informing them about the potential risks and implications could avoid regret later. Informational tattoo classes need to be a thing, and will definitely help you avoid regretting your decision.