Tattoos are permanent, so assuming the whole is-this-professional/would-mom-approve debate has been solved, there’s one more hurdle to tackle: getting inked can be dangerous.

Tattoo Hullaballoo – Why It Matters

When going in for a, “the process of getting the tattoo and the ink that is left behind in the body (and permanently, at that).

When getting inked, colorants are injected into the skin with a needle that deposit pigments below the skin’s epidermisTattoo pigments are cleaved by laser light: the chemical analysis in vitro provide evidence for hazardous compounds. R. Vasold, Naarmann N., Ulrich H., Koenig B., Landthaler M., Baeumler W. Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Regensburg, Germany. Photochemical Photobiology. 2004 Sep-Oct, 80(2): 185-90. Unsanitary conditions in the tattoo parlor, be it the appliances or general environment, can potentially shepherd toxins into the bloodstream and transmit diseases and infections, some as grave as Hepatitis C and HIV.

Assuming the tattoo parlor is as sanitary as a five-star hotel, there’s another issue to keep in mind. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the tattoo industry and little is known about what is actually in the ink, although the government’s National Center for Toxicological Research identified small levels of carcinogens. But don’t fret, there’s currently not enough information about the levels and effects of the ink’s traces of carcinogens– they could be so minimal that the body’s natural defense system is powerful enough to ward off any hazardous effects.

In some instances, after getting a tattoo, some people experience negative side effects, such as allergic reactions, skin infections, and, in even more rare cases, the emergence of melanoma around tattoo sites on the body due to the deposit of the ink in the lymph nodesTattoo pigment in an axillary lymph node simulating metastatic malignant melanoma. C. Jack, Adwani A., Krishnan H. Breast Unit and Pathology Department Mayday University Hospital, London. International Seminars in Surgical Oncology. 2005; 2:28. However, the incidence of cancer is very rare, so rare in fact that research has for the most part cast it off as pure coincidencePoorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma arising in tattooed skin. DP Sarma, Dentilinger, R., Forystek, A., Stevens, T., HUerter, C. Department of Pathology, Creighton University Medical center, Omaha, NE. Case Reports in Medicine. 2010; 2010: 431813. Epub 2011 Jan 13.

Tatt Attack – The Answer/Debate

Before getting a tattoo, it is important to do thorough research about the tattoo parlor, the artist, and what the process involves from start to finish. Luckily, standards for tattoo parlors are set pretty high due to this widespread concern and vary by state. Never be afraid to ask the tattoo parlor their sanitary policies. Tattoo artists aren’t regulated by the Federal Government, and thus may or may not have received some sort of license or certification for their craft depending on their state. But chances are, things will be spic and span; in fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C is greater in a dentist’s office than in a tattoo parlor.

Make sure pre- and post-tattoo care instructions are read and understood, especially when it comes to cleaning it and avoiding sun and certain body washes and lotions. It may seem relatively healthy, but the process of getting a tattoo can nonetheless potentially be time-consuming, costly, and painful… not to mention a momentary lapse in judgement can leave “Te adoro, Theodoro” on that left shoulder blade forever.

Certainty Level

Can a drummer get some? No looking back now…