So You Ask, What Exactly is a Tattoo?
A tattoo is a puncture wound, made deep in your skin, that’s filled with ink. The tattoo is made by penetrating your skin with a needle and injecting ink into the area creating some sort of design of your choosing. The thing that makes tattoos so long lasting is the fact that they’re so deep, the ink isn’t injected into the epidermis (the top layer of skin that you continue to produce and shed throughout your lifetime). Instead, the ink is injected into the dermis, which is the second, deeper layer of skin. Dermis cells are very stable, so the tattoo is practically permanent.
Most tattoo shops these days use a tattoo machine, which is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. One end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inches into your skin.
Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design. Does it Hurt to Get a Tattoo?
Getting a tattoo can be very painful, but the level of pain can vary, depending on your pain threshold, how good the artist is with the machine, and the location of the tattoo. Because getting a tattoo involves being stuck multiple times with a needle, it can fell like getting a bunch of shots or being stung by a hornet multiple times. Some people describe it as “tingling.” But again, it all depends on your own personal pain threshold as to how it will feel to you. If You’re Thinking About Getting a Tattoo….
There’s one very important thing you must keep in mind, getting it done safely. Although it looks a lot cooler than a big scab, a new tattoo is also a wound and like any other scrape, puncture, cut or penetration to your skin, a tattoo is at risk for infections and disease.
You need to make sure you are up to date with your immunizations (especially hepatitis and tetanus shots) and plan where you will get medical care if your new tattoo does become infected. Signs of infection include excessive redness or tenderness, prolonged bleeding, pus, or changes in your skin color around the tattoo. If you have a medical problem such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes, skin disorders or any condition that affects your immune system or are prone to infections, you should ask your doctor before deciding to get a tattoo. Also, if you are prone to getting keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue in the area of the wound), it’s probably best to avoid getting a tattoo altogether. Avoiding Infection
It’s very important to make sure the tattoo studio is clean and safe, and that all equipment is disposable (needles, gloves, masks, etc.) and that everything is sterilized. You can call your state, county, or local health department to ask for recommendations on licensed tattoo shops, or to ask about any complaints about a particular studio. Professional studios take pride in their cleanliness; here are a few things to check for: Make sure the studio has an autoclave which is a device that uses steam, pressure, and heat for sterilization. Check to make sure the tattoo artist is a licensed practitioner; if they are they should be able to provide you with references. Be sure the studio follows the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Universal Precautions. These are specific rules and regulations that outline procedures to be followed when dealing with bodily fluids such as...