Monday, February 4, 2013

Tattoo's and body piercings - a good idea?

Tattoos are very much in vogue now. Years ago, they had a negative connotation and were mostly found on prisoners and merchant marines but these days, it's quite respectable to have a tattoo or two - most of the Olympic athletes have the 5 Olympic rings tattooed in a prominent place to show the world their participation in these prestigous games. And body piercings and tattoos are common in High Schoolers and young adults, who consider them "cool" - ever more so because many of the older adults around them disagree with them.

What has helped sell tattoos, are the many shows on TLC which "sanitize" them, not showing the pain sometimes lasting many hours, it takes to get one or infected tattoos or even folks who change their minds later on in life.

Just because the practice is acceptable or even stylish, is it a healthy thing to do?  

The jury is still out on whether tattoos are a good idea or not.  For example, there is no data about the long term repercussions of either body piercings or tattoo's - could either raise the risk for cancer, for example?  No one knows.  

We can't really get the answer from history although both practices are very old and were practiced in ancient societies - simply because people didn't live long enough in those societies to experience lifestyle repercussions - most died of infectious disease, most children never made it to adulthood.

One thing which should cause us to think twice about these decisions,  is that many folks when they get into their 30's and 40's either regret their tattoo's or actually dislike them to the point of seeking removal - removing a tattoo is a long, painful and somewhat risky process, involving several lazer treatments.  It also can get expensive.

At present, there are no guarantees that the artist who applies a tattoo to your anatomy, is working under totally sterile conditions (unless he/she is a medical professional) - and even if done under sterile conditions, you can still get a nasty infection from a tattoo or body piercing.  On TV the shows, the artists tell the clients it can take two weeks to heal totally from a tattoo.  Infected tattoos are not pretty (to put it mildly). (see photo above)

As one article puts it:

Infections from tattooing are nothing new. Hepatitis, staph infections and even the superbug known as MRSA have been tied to tattoos. Dirty needles and unsanitary conditions are often to blame.

Recently a rash of infected tattoos in the New York area were traced to the ink used (the tattoo artist did wear gloves and worked under sterile conditions).  The infections were traced to the water used to dilute the ink.

Infections of tuberculosis have been reported from tattoos also.

"Even if you get a tattoo from a facility that does everything right, it's not risk free," said Dr. Byron Kennedy, deputy director of the health department in New York's Monroe County. He was lead author of a report on the Rochester cases which was released by the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2012.

 Body piercings can be troublesome that way also. I've know folks who got their tummies pierced and had to remove it due to infection or inflamation.

Christians may want to give thought to the fact that tattooing is prohibited in Leviticus: 

"The Old Testament law commanded the Israelites, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:28). "
I typically call those rules found in the O.T. a set of good health rules and generally speaking, they still are a wise plan - even in our modern society.

A writer answering issues about tattoo's and body piercing for Christians in Yahoo answers went into this in more detail.

Tattooing and body piercing is pretty and a definite form of art but personally for me, there are too many questions about the safety thereof, to take the risk.  Life is risky enough without adding risks, I'm thinking and there are many other ways to enjoy art.