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    Tattoo or not to Tattoo Essay (2351 words)

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    Tattoos or skin art as it is commonly called, seems to be the latest fashion trend today. Everywhere you look someone else is getting inked, be it could be the college student, the young mom next door, or the executive in his business suit. The history, selection, safety , and care along with some removal methods are not always obvious nor is a non-permanent alternative. All these things and more will be revealed in a few short moments. The history of skin arts beginnings are some what unclear.

    Some people like tattoo artist Erik Reime think that it goes back to biblical times, in fact it could be conceived that GOD created the first tattoo when he put “the mark upon Cain” (3). For others it originated n Egypt or as V. Wageman reviews in Victoria Lautmans book The New Tattoo the first tattoo may have come about when “some stone age klutz fell down near a hearth[and] found charcoal embedded in his flesh”(8). through out history we can see that tattoos have served a variety of purposes.

    They have been the distinguishing mark of a slave or a ruler, they were and still are used in prisons and more recently have become a means of personal expression. In the eighteenth century Capt. James Cook brought back to England some tattooed South Sea islanders. Cooks seamen were among the first westerners to have full body tattoos. From there tattoos progressed to the US where slaves were branded with their owners name or some other distinguishing mark.

    In a web page written and maintained by Robert Birkins we can see how skin art was also used in the prison camps of the former soviet union where a complex language was developed using tattoos as symbols. Such languages have been studied by specialists in hopes of cutting crime rates in the USSR. Some examples of prison tattoos are: Insert From there we progress to modern day, where skin art has become an avenue of self expression. In our generation the tattoo is seen more as who you are than as a political statement or “brand”. Tattoo’s today are about experiences, feelings, and a permanent sense of self-worth and pride.

    The selection of your skin art is as important as the selection of the artist that applies it and of the care that will later be needed to keep it beautiful. One should always be sure that the design is something that you have a love or passion for, whether you decide on “flash” (ready made artwork that is usually found on the salon walls or in their portfolios) or have an original design, the art you have applied will be with you always and like it or not the artwork you pick will determine the way some people view you. The traditional way to have a tattoo is of course with needles and ink.

    There is nothing like the pure and natural adrenaline rush that occurs when you sit in the tattoo artists chair and listen while the high pitched hum of some 1,800 pricks per minute machine makes its mark upon your body. One of the most commonly asked questions is “does it hurt”? This question has been answered by tattoo artist and salon owner Eric Reine, when he replied yes of course it hurts; however please remember that there are several deciding factors on exactly how much pain you’ll be in. Among these factors are, where the artwork is located, how big the design is, and how high your tolerance for pain is.

    All of these are determining factors of how bad the pain will be. Large pieces on your back will hurt a lot more than Insert a quarter size tattoo on your arm. Generally speaking any piece done on the ankle Insert , wrist or fingers will hurt more than one done on a “fleshy” part of the body simply because of the lack of padding, but please don’t let this be the deciding factor in “where should I put my tattoo” if your ankle is where you want your dolphins or band, then grit your teeth and go for it otherwise you will never be happy with your choice, and removal is both costly and painful.

    The choices for your skin art are limited only by your imagination, available skin, and your wallet, so think long and hard before jumping in. Recently another method of skin art has made its way the Atlantic and is becoming popular. It is Mehndi:, the ancient art of henna tattooing. In her article “Body of Art” Maya Brown reports that according to Rabi R. Dabit, founder of the first henna salon in the US. ” Mehndi is believed to have originated in Egypt more than 7,000 years ago”. In fact in a recent article “answers” published in Essence magazine the writer explains the process is more detail.

    They report that the tattoo like designs are achieved by painting the skin with a henna paste. Traditionally the designs are placed on the hands, wrists, arms. It is also popular on brides to be, and on other religious and/or special ceremonies(38). One of the primary reasons Mehndi is becoming more popular in the US is because the designs will last one to six weeks depending on the location , size, and the type of henna used, for example the designs put on the arms or stomachs will last longer than the ones on the hands simply because hands are washed more often.

    The cost depends on the area in which you live, and the different salon owners. If you choose to go the traditional route and get a needle and ink tattoo in addition to design and location, you have to find an artist and shop. There are shops opening up almost everywhere it seems and while most are careful about using disposable needles, sterilizing equipment, and handling the ink properly not all are, so be informed ask a lot of questions before sitting in the chair.

    A reputable artist will always use disposable latex gloves, normally he will not stop a design once he has started, unless it is a large design or unless you ask him to. In her article” So you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing” Barbara Freyenberger a RN and MSN student also suggest t visit several shops and artist, check out the lighting, if they are clean, do they require consent forms to be filled out, etc. Most important is do you feel comfortable? If not walk out and try somewhere else, usually your first reaction to a place is the best judgment you can have.

    One of the reasons for doing your homework when checking out a tattoo artist and/or shop is so important is because there is little or no government regulation or requirements. In fact with the exception of a business license, most states or cities do not require an artist to even have a license. Recently however there have been several bills passed in the senate that will change this. One such bill was passed back in 1996 when the Michigan State Senate voted 37-1 that customers under the age of 18 have a parent or guardian along to sign a consent form before getting a tattoo.

    If they didn’t comply then salon owners would face a stiff fine and possible jail time for violations(Detroit News). Other states have passed bills like “Dingell’s Law”, under this bill salon owners would be fined a maximum of $1,000. 00 and parents could sue for damages if parental consent was not issued(Tattoo1) More recently Assemblywoman Marion Crecco has introduced two new bills to legislature aimed at regulating the tattoo business. Both are long overdue and for the most part reputable salon owners agree with and welcome the change.

    The first bill will force the salon owners to obtain a license, the second will require the shop personnel to check Ids and if the client is under 18 he/she will need written parental consent. (Needleman 1). Many shop owners such as Butch Coner agree with the work that the legislation is doing. He believes “you cant be too educated in this field” that includes the safest, most sterile equipment and procedures in addition to checking identification and having parental consent. What would the results be if the licensing legislation is enacted?

    Sara Needleman reports that “a five member Tattooing and Body Piercing Advisory Committee would be established in the Division of consumer affairs in the department of Public Law and Safety. The committee would be under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Medical Examiners. Applicant for licenses would have to be 18 years of age, of good moral character, and have obtained a high school diploma, Plus, each applicant would have to complete a tattoo or body-piercing education program and pass an examination administered or approved by the board of medical examiners.

    The licensing bill has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, while the bill requiring underage children to have parental consent has passed the Consumer Affairs and Regulated Committee and is awaiting a vote in full assembly”. Congress, parents, and shop owners want the proposed regulations not just to control underage tattooing but also because tattooing can cause serious health risks if proper precautions are not taken. Some problems include infections, hepatitis and more recently a burning sensation during an MRI.

    Pam Moore reports in a recent ” healthbeat” show entitled “MRI’s & Tattoos” that very rarely patients complain of a “burning” sensation the area of the tattoo. DR Jermon Barkas who heads the California Pacific Medical Centers MRI imaging center explains that the problem is caused by the metal that is contained is some red tattoo dyes, so that “Theoretically there is a risk that the metal in the tattoo could heat up in the MRI machine”. However he further explains that it is very rare for a patient to have a problem like this and there is no reason to avoid having an MRI if it is needed.

    Okay, you have picked out the tattoo design, figured out an artist and shop to make your dream come true… Now how do you care for it? Most shops will give you an oral directions and a card something like the one here. Insert But if not , an internet source “Tattoo Revolution” suggests: ?. Do not remove the bandage for at least 2 hours ?. Do not pick scabs ?. Wash the area with soap and water once a day, after washing apply a thin layer of lotion to the area. Please use a fragrance free lotion that is not petroleum based, the fragrance can cause irritation and the petroleum doesn’t allow the skin to breath. . Apply the lotion several times a day ? Do not soak your tattoo for any reason ?

    Keep out of direct sunlight (or tanning beds) for at least one month, after this apply at least a SPF30 to prevent the colors from fading Of all these directions Do not pick scabs is the most important because when you pick the scab off it results in scarring, loss of color and it increases the risk of infection. Another FAQ is ” What if I change my mind, and I don’t like my tattoo”? For this problem there are only three solutions. The first is the easiest and cheapest: Swallow hard and live with it.

    The second solution is a cover-up. This will require a talented artist, a little pain, and some imagination, and a fair amount of expense. This method works best for small pieces and is best left between the artist and yourself. Finally there is tattoo removal. This is without a doubt the most expensive way to have a tattoo removed. One internet source finds that since there are several methods to remove a tattoo today, you physician will choose one depending on several factors, such as the size of the tattoo, location, and the amount of time you had your artwork.

    It continues with the following explanations and graphics. The most popular way of removing a small tattoo is by Excision, this procedure involves numbing the area and surgically removing the tattoo, the edges are stitched back together and off you go with minimal bleeding and discomfort. Insert Dermabrasion is another method. This requires the physician to spray the tattoo with a solution that will freeze the area. Then the physician causes the skin to peel by rubbing it with a sandpaper-like material. A dressing is then applied. Insert Perhaps the oldest method available is Salabrasion.

    This century old procedure is similar to dermabrasion in that the sandpaper-like material is used however in this method after the area is numbed a salt water solution is applied before the sanding occurs. With new technological breakthroughs happening almost daily, Lasers have quickly become the newest and easiest form of tattoo removable available. Insert Three such techniques have been introduced recently, while not cheap they will erase that tattoo and with minimal scarring. Selective Phototherolysis is recommended for small easy to remove tattoos.

    This method uses lasers to destroy only the inked skin cells so it has little scarring. This process has been further improved with the introduction of “High Lesion” according to the director of ” The Laser and Skin Surgery” of New York, New York City’s Roy Geronemus, MD in an article written by Linda Benson for Dermatology Times. The Vetrapulse CO2 laser is designed to remove the super thin layers of skin (again with little scarring) this method may need to be combined with selective lasers to remove all of the inked cells.

    Another laser used for tattoo removal is the Pohotoderm PL Laser while this method will get all the pigment out at once the results are not as consistent according to dermatologist Steven B. Snyder, MD (Geracil). A tattoo is a very personal thing. One that for most requires a lot of thought and planning. This combined with the proper artist, care, and legislation will make you vision come true. If not there is always the alternative of removal so, Tattoo or Not to Tattoo the decision is yours.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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