Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UNC Doctors Say Tattoo Craze Leads To More Removals, Health Warnings

Date:
September 1, 2000
Source:
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Summary:
Almost half of Americans sporting tattoos are changing their minds, according to some estimates, most often because they change romantic partners whose names are emblazoned on their bodies. Increasingly, they seek out plastic surgeons and dermatologists who specialize in tattoo removal.

CHAPEL HILL -- Almost half of Americans sporting tattoos are changing their minds, according to some estimates, most often because they change romantic partners whose names are emblazoned on their bodies. Increasingly, they seek out plastic surgeons and dermatologists who specialize in tattoo removal.

Related Articles


Removal techniques -- always more expensive than having tattoos applied in the first place -- range from excisional surgery and dermabrasion to the newer lasers. And while patients may no longer have a tattoo after these procedures, they almost always emerge with some kind of scar or mark, say physicians at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Add those reasons to the ever-present threat of infection, and Dr. Robert Tomsick, associate professor of dermatology at the UNC-CH School of Medicine, makes a case for thinking twice before going under the needle.

"What you're doing is breaking the skin and introducing pigmented material into the area," Tomsick said. "Even though the needle only goes in a little way, anytime you break the skin, you have a risk of bacterial or viral infection. I think it [getting a tattoo] is generally a risky thing to do."

Tomsick said he's especially concerned about methods amateur tattoo "artists" use to introduce pigment into skin. "I've even heard of people using wooden sticks and forcing in the pigment," he said. "Once pigment is in, even if there's no infection, there's always the chance of contact allergies, dermatitis and allergic reactions that can cause skin to get red, swollen, crusty and itchy."

Such reactions, which occur more often with red and white pigment than with blue and black tattoos, generally continue until the pigment is removed, Tomsick said. He also cautions dark-skinned people that they are at risk of getting keloid scars -- raised scars that keep growing -- from tattoos.

"These begin with pain and tenderness and can get to be so big that they can interfere with movement on certain body parts," he said.

Laser ablation is the newest and best for tattoo removal, but the process requires expensive equipment, including multiple lasers -- each specially tuned for the various pigment types to be removed, the physician said. Because of high equipment and maintenance costs, he and his colleagues at UNC-CH have not pursued this work. "Nonetheless, for the patient who wishes the most 'elegant' and least scarring tattoo removal, laser is the way to go."

Dr. Lynn Damitz, assistant professor of plastic surgery, said her department is looking at the possibility of purchasing laser equipment necessary for tattoo removal. "Lasers designed for this purpose have gotten much better at tattoo removal," she said. However, tattoo removal lasers are not yet standard at most hospitals. Such surgery takes multiple sessions, with each costing from $250 to $400.

"It's very expensive, and most of the patients I've talked to say it's more painful than getting the tattoo was," Damitz said.

Tomsick described the most common types of removal:Tattoos can be cut away with an excision that goes through the full thickness of the skin. All the skin is pulled off and then pulled together again. Excision on small tattoos can make the area less conspicuous, but "a scar will always be there when you take scalpel to skin," he said.

Dermabrasion involves a hand-held tool that literally sands off the tattoo along with the skin, he added. The procedure can remove most of a tattoo, but residual pigment often is left behind, along with a scar.

Damitz offered a word of advice for those who are determined to get a tattoo: "Go to someone reputable, a professional whose health record you've investigated. And if you think you might change your mind about your tattoo, don't get a red or yellow one. They're the hardest to remove."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "UNC Doctors Say Tattoo Craze Leads To More Removals, Health Warnings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 September 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000901080915.htm>.
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. (2000, September 1). UNC Doctors Say Tattoo Craze Leads To More Removals, Health Warnings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000901080915.htm
University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. "UNC Doctors Say Tattoo Craze Leads To More Removals, Health Warnings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/09/000901080915.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins