A permanent design created by injecting ink into the dermal layer of skin. The tattoo instrument is composed of a small needle that oscillates much like the needle of a sewing machine. This needle repeatedly pierces the skin and injects tiny droplets of ink with every insertion.

How painful?
On a scale from 0 to 10, in which a "0" doesn't hurt, and a "10" is so excruciating that you pass out...
A small tattoo consisting of only outlines took 30 minutes and ranked as a 6.

Tattos over boney structures have a more painful reputation.

If the tattoo design has to be filled in with color it will obviously take longer and will be more painful then just an outline.

The feeling has been described like a large needle stabbing deep into your skin and being scraped in different directions for at least a half hour.

Some artists will allow you to take a 10 minute break every once in a while. However, many tattoo recipients decide to "just get it over with."

If you have a low threshhold for pain, a tattoo may not be for you.

How long does it take?
Small simple tattoos generally take about 30 to 45 minutes. Larger tattoos can take several hours and may require multiple visits.


Sucky tattoo: This ailment befalls the teen that doesn't investigate the artist giving the tattoo. This is also the type of tattoo you don't remember getting until you stumble into the bathroom the next morning and see it lying across your forehead. (See our controlled substances section)

Allergic reaction to the dyes: Some people may develop an allergic reaction a few to several weeks after the tattoo is received. As a result the tattoo area may become reddish, swollen, itchy and irritated.

Infection: If a needle is not properly sterilized you could develop an infection leading to illness deformity or scaring. You could also contract a serious or even life threatening disease such as tetanus, tuberculosis, hepatitis, or HIV. A study published in the March 2001 issue of Medicine found that people with tattoos were over 9 times as likely to have hepatitis C than those without tattoos. Because of these risks and the fact that some of these diseases don't produce symptoms for months or even years following infection, the American Red Cross prohibits anyone from donating blood for 1 year after getting a tattoo. So if you do decide to get a tattoo, limit the risk of infection by putting your parlor to the following test.

What to look for in a tattoo parlor:
Read this, print it out and take it with you when checking out a tattoo parlor. You want to be thorough to avoid infection and butt-ugly tattoos. Few states have hygienic regulations for tattoo parlors, and those that do don't always monitor or enforce standards. So before jumping into the tattoo chair, give it a Bodyteen Parlor Pop Quiz. If it doesn't pass every one of the following guidelines, cross it off your list and find yourself a parlor worth your skin.

Workmanship: A tattoo is meant to be permanent. Make sure you see examples of the artist's work. Don't be afraid to ask the artist about his or her training. Removing a tattoo is very difficult. It is nearly impossible to return the skin to its original appearance. Scaring or skin discoloration may diminish but not for many years. So if you're going to do it. Do it right! Find an incredible artist. Be willing to invest the money it takes for a quality job. And pick or create a design you will enjoy looking at for the next 60 to 70 years.

Autoclave: This is an instrument, regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), that heat sterilizes all non-disposable instruments used during the tattoo process. Make sure your tattoo parlor has one. Make sure they use it to sterilize every instrument they don't throw out after use. And make sure they store the sterilized instruments in sterile bags.

Sterile disposable needles: Needles should never be used more than once. They should be stored in sterile packages, used once, and then thrown out immediately into a biohazard container for sharp objects.

Everything else should be disinfected: All non-disposable equipment that is unable to be sterilized in an autoclave, should be disinfected with a commercial disinfectant or bleach solution.

Gloves: A fresh pair of disposable gloves should be used for each tattoo. This pair of gloves should touch you and the sterilized equipment only. If the artist opens a drawer, picks up a phone, picks his nose, or touches anything that is not sterilized, they will be exposing you to possible infection.

A clean environment: Check out the floor, counters, bathroom, etc. Case the joint like a spy. It should look clean and surfaces should look frequently disinfected.

Complaint free: Call your city or county health department and ask them if any complaints have been reported toward the parlor Every tattoo parlor needs a permit to operate and your city government is usually the authority that grants this permit.

Caring for your new tattoo:

The skin will take 1 to 3 weeks to heal. Until it heals completely, make sure you keep the tattoo area clean using soap and water. Also use a petroleum jelly to keep the area moisturized.

How to remove a tattoo

Like we said before, tattoos are intentionally permanent. It is nearly impossible to return the skin to it's original appearance. All of the following options are likely to result in scaring or skin discoloration. - One more reason to do it right the first time.

Laser surgery: A pulsing highly concentrated beam of light penetrates the skin and breaks up the tattoo's pigment which then dissolves into the body.Blue and black dyes are removed most easily while oranges and yellows will be more difficult to remove.

Positives Negatives:
  • The most popular technique
  • The least invasive (least amount of damage to tissue)
  • The least likely to result in scaring or infection
  • The most expensive
  • Multiple treatments necessary (4 to 5 for small tattoos and up to 10 for larger tattoos)

Excision: a local anesthetic is injected into the tattoo area. The skin containing the tattoo is removed with a scalpel. The exposed edges of the skin are then drawn together and sutured. Large tattoos may require a skin graft from some other part of the body.


Positives Negatives:
  • Small tattoos can be removed in one sitting.
  • Large tattoos may require multiple surgeries over a period of months.
  • Scaring

Dermabrasion: The tattooed skin is frozen with a solution and rubbed off with the medical equivalent to a small electric sander. A dressing is then applied to protect the exposed skin.


Positives Negatives:
  • Your doctor finally gets to practice what he/she learned in wood shop class!
  • If you really hate the tattoo, you may get some satisfaction from this procedure.
  • Bleeding
  • Textural scarring
  • Skin discoloration
  • The skin is full of nerve endings. Have you ever had a rug burn. Well this leaves a pretty severe rug burn.

Salabrasion: a local anesthetic is injected into the tattoo area. The area is covered with a salt water solution. The tattoo is rubbed off.


Positives Negatives:
You get an anesthetic
  • The anesthetic wears off
    ( after the procedure is complete.)
  • Bleeding
  • Textural scarring
  • Skin discoloration
  • Rug burn = Ouch

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