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Tattooing FAQ's
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Tattooing F.requently A.sked Q.uestions

Is Tattooing Safe?

Yes, now there is increased awareness about infection control in the tattoo studio environment, both artists and consumers are changing to adapt to today's standards of health and safety through education. There are a number of items to look for to ensure your peace of mind and understanding that your chosen studio is performing basic standards. Is there an autoclave on site? Is single service of materials and equipment provided? Are gloves being worn? Is the environment clean? Are contaminated materials properly disposed of? ASK QUESTIONS! What is an autoclave? An autoclave is a machine that will kill any known living organism. This is not to be confused with toaster ovens, dry heat units, boiling of needles or soaking equipment in alcohol. Autoclaves use heat, steam and pressure at temperatures above 270 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 55 minutes from a cold start. ASK TO SEE ONE! What does the term "single service" mean? This means that each needle and tube set is individually packaged, dated and sealed, then autoclaved. There is a small icon on the bag that will change color when proper sterilization has occurred. The use of dated "spore indicators" as part of the sterilization routine ensures microbial death and is an added measure of assurance. What about the material? Any ointment, pigments, gloves, ink, ink caps, needles etc. used in applying your new tattoo are discarded after use. NOTHING is re-used! After the tattoo application, the artist will disinfect the work area with EPA approved virucidal that kill any surface bacteria or viruses. Hepatitis B can live in dried blood for up to ten days! Can I get AIDS? It takes 100 microliter of blood and a deep intramuscular puncture to transmit the HIV virus. This is equivalent to 10 drops of blood. Since needles used for tattooing are "solid core" (not hollow like syringe) and HIV does not live outside the human body too long, it is unlikely. There has never been a documented case of "getting AIDS" from a tattoo.

The above information was provided by: Alliance of Professional Tattooists 7477 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd, #205 Glen Burnie, MD 21061

Does it hurt?

Yes, but it's not as bad as you might think. The pain comes from the needle group in the tattoo machine hitting your skin very rapidly. This sensation, however, doesn't feel like the pain of an injection it's more of a constant irritation. The pain will also vary according to where on your body you get worked on. Areas of the body that have bones close to the surface (collarbone, anklebone, ribs, etc.) tend to be more painful than other areas. Different types of needle groups tend to feel different. The needles used for outlining produce a sharp, hot, and more noticeable pain, though the outlining is USUALLY the quickest part of the tattoo. The needles used for shading usually produce an abrasive and hot feeling, which is more tolerable for most people.

Do not drink alcohol or take drugs for pain relief purposes prior to your tattoo sessions. Both aspirin and alcohol thin your blood and promote excessive bleeding. Aspirin also decreases the clotting of blood, which will slow down your healing as well. In addition, artists do not appreciate tattooing people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

I personally view the pain part of tattooing as a challenge to be overcome. When I get tattooed and it hurts, and I can still make myself sit there and allow the experience and not have it get the better of me; then I can leave with a bit more than a tattoo. I can leave with the sense that I am stronger than a lot of things I once thought were stronger than me. My tattoos have then become talisman if you will, to remind me of this lesson every day.

Why do people get tattoos?

People get tattoos for different reasons. Some want to look good, others use tattooing as a symbolic mark of personal transformation. Either way remember it is permanent and you will want to give it much thought BEFORE you have it done. This is something you will live with for the rest of your life you should be VERY happy to have it. Make sure it does not turn into an embarrassment.

Where on my body can I get a tattoo?

You can get a tattoo anywhere on the body. You may want to keep in mind a few things though. First, do you want your tattoo to be seen when you go to work? You might want to make sure the tattoo is in an area that you will not have to put extra thought into making sure it is always covered up for work. Second, if you are planning to have more tattoo work done later try to have at least a rough idea of the complete plan for the area. This way you will prevent future design problems. Third, larger tattoos are usually better as you will avoid having a lot of small stuff that eventually will be a problem to incorporate into a larger theme. Finally, hands and feet are unique as the ink tends to wear off these areas easier. I do not tattoo faces.

What color can I get?

Tattoo ink comes in very color of the rainbow and can be custom mixed to match the sample you bring the artist. However, remember the color of your skin will change the color of the ink. The color matching of the ink can come close but usually there is no perfect match. Things to keep in mind when choosing colors-