Ask 20-year-old Alika Lopes, a prospective college
student from Wai‘anae. He has five tattoos. His main
reason for getting the first tattoo, at the young age of 14,
was that most of his friends had tattoos. “I had to get
one. It was like the ‘in’ thing,” Lopes said.
Lopes said after getting the first one, “I liked the pain.
It became addicting.” Now, he would rather “have
plain skin, like a normal person,” he said. He also mentioned
that “at first it’s good, but it makes you feel ugly,
like your skin doesn’t feel natural.”
For some others, like local entertainer, Baba B, 29, also from
Wai‘anae, don’t regret getting some tattoos. Some
of his tattoos became infected and faded. The needle went too
deep, and another one resulted in welts all over it. He said “unless
you have $1,000 per square inch to remove it, then you shouldn’t
get [a tattoo] in the first place.”
Like Lopes, Baba also got his first tattoo because “all
my friends got them,” Baba said. Another tattoo was a result
of being drunk. Now, 10 years later, the first tattoo, a cross,
is covered by his girlfriend’s name.
Some of the main reasons for getting tattoos are: to fit in,
being addicted to the pain, to look a certain way, or for personal
Cristian Clemente, a 23-year-old junior majoring in marketing
does not regret his tattoo either. The kanji, or Japanese symbol,
he got in 2000, means “strength, love, happiness,” he
said. Clemente got it while on vacation, and “wanted [to
get] something personal, [that] stands for who I am, or what
I want in life,” he said. For him, it’s still a goal.
He has no regrets because it’s “part of me now.”
Students, teachers, faculty, celebrities, and almost anybody
has a tattoo or body piercing. But, even though getting body
art poses major health risks, people still get them. There are
many risks that people don’t know about when they do decide
to get a tattoo or piercing.
The Risk: Infections
Unsanitized tools can also cause infections. Sterilization
is very important before using a needle. Even if needles are
or have never been used, the equipment holding the needles may
not be sterilized.
According to the “All I Need” Web site, a person
can acquire Hepatitis C through old, unsterile needles that have
been used on different customers, or from “unsterile practice” by
the tattoo artist, such as “licking the tattooing needle,
using the same ink or ink containers for more than one person,
or testing needle sharpness by pricking his/her hand.”
According to everytattoo.com, the risk of infection is the
reason the American Association of Blood Banks require a
period between getting a tattoo and donating blood, because tests
can be negative in the early stages of infection.
Besides infections, skin growths can also occur. Granulomas
are small round spots that may form in organs or body tissues
a result to the body perceiving a material as foreign, such as
particles of tattoo pigment. The spots, or nodules can hinder
the normal function of where the spot is.
Keloid formations are scar tissue that are
become raised blisters or pimple-like growths. They can form
around a piercing or tattoo.
Keloid scars can vary: they may be red, itchy, inflamed, and
may change size over time. Bacterial infections can irritate
the tattoo or piercing enough to form a lump of scar tissue.
The Risk: Removal problems
With laser technology, a person can get a tattoo removed, but
many people don’t know that the process is painful, involves
several treatments, and is expensive. And it may be impossible
to remove the tattoo completely, and without getting scars.
Through removal techniques, although rare, some people may
have allergic reactions to the pigments in their tattoos,
pigments are difficult to remove. People can have allergic reactions
for years, if the tattoo is not completely removed.
Tattoos and piercings may seem like the thing to get now, but
permanent body art can affect one‘s health and future.