Cautions about tattoos

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The many shows on TV about tattoo shops have spiked more interest in tattoos but they are not without risk (as TV would have you believe).

Here's some cautions...

Getting a tattoo hurts - it's said to feel like a cat scratching sunburned skin.  One place suggests taking an NSAID before one goes into the shop but another source stated to avoid any NSAID which might thin the blood - if there is too much bleeding, the tattooer may not be able to complete your tattoo.  Some shops offer topical anesthetic but then warn that slightly numbing the area can cause the ink to not "stick".  Apparently they cannot numb the skin being tattooed for another reason - too much topical anesthetic can cause the patient to have seizures.

It looks like the best way to get a tattoo is to tough it out.  Bring an iPod, suggests one person, so you can listen to music and also dull the noise of the tattoo machine.

It's important to carefully check out the shop you select - not only for good artists but to make sure they sterilize their instruments, use disposable needles, wear clean gloves to work on your tattoo.  Since many tiny holes are made in the skin, it is considered a medical procedure and medical like sanitation should be followed to avoid infection.

Most sources say it takes about three weeks for a tattoo to heal. (it heals a lot faster on TV but then that IS TV!)

During the healing time, patients are cautioned to not go swimming or expose the tattoo to the sun.

They also tell you to wear loose clothing to the tattoo shop and to eat a full meal before you go, to reduce the chance of passing out on the table (that suggests it can get very painful). Some tattoos take many hours to do.

Bring a sugary snack to eat during the procedure (to avoid passing out) - I'm assuming they allow you to take breaks .

Cautions from a tattooing website:

1. Always insist that you see your tattooist remove a new needle & tube set-up from a sealed envelope immediately prior to your tattoo

2. Be certain you see your tattooist pour a new ink supply into a new disposable container.

3. Make sure your artist puts on a new pair of disposable gloves before setting up tubes, needles, and ink supplies.

4. Satisfy yourself that the shop furnishings & tattooist are clean & orderly in appearance; much like a medical facility.

5. Feel free to question the tattooist as to any of his/her sterile procedures & isolation techniques. Take time to observe them at work & do not hesitate to inquire about their experience & qualifications in the tattoo field.