Despite tracing its origins back to Neolithic times, tattooing has gone through periods of popularity and unpopularity, just like any other social trend, particularly in western cultures. Currently, the art is going through a revival and tattoos are more popular than ever. This has also been as a direct result of new technology in machine design and inks enabling artists to produce work that wouldn’t be out of place in some art galleries. Body adornment has also received a boost from the number of celebrities openly sporting ink’ – both men and women.
It would be fair to assume that an economic downturn would actually result in the industry suffering in the same way as many other consumer markets, but the opposite appears to be true. Recent research carried out in the United States has concluded that in times of recession people are actually more likely to spend money on tattoos as a personal statement against what they see as a consumerist society and an economic system that has betrayed them in so many other ways. Tattoos represent a need to make an individual statement that can be completely controlled by the wearer and a permanent representation of their personality or a desire to rebel against the status quo. It can also be a statement of commitment to a loved one, a permanent dedication to a cause or ideal or just, simply, an adornment. The psychology of why people get tattooed is a complex field of study that is seemingly influenced just as much by environmental factors as well as personal preferences.
However, a stunning tattoo of a leaping tiger may look great now and may empower the wearer, but what about tattoos that you regret? According to a study carried out in 2003 by the British Journal of Dermatology, three-quarters of people in the UK who have tattoos regret having them done. This could be for a variety of reasons – perhaps the tattoo is the name of an ex-partner, no longer has any significance or its context has become dated. It could simply be that it’s just a bad tattoo, which can be as unsightly as any scar. In this case, tattoo removal becomes a consideration and the most common method of removing unwanted tattoos is through laser tattoo removal.
The process involves using laser technology to aim a beam of intense light through the upper layers of skin into the tattoo to break up the pigmentation. Once the ink has been broken up into tiny particles by laser tattoo removal, the body’s natural immune system can remove the pigment, causing the tattoo to fade and eventually disappear. Laser treatment is not a cheap option and several sessions will be required to remove a tattoo, particularly if the tattoo has several different coloured inks or covers a large area of skin. It is painful, but the pain levels are about comparable to the actual process of tattooing itself (the sensation has been likened to being repeatedly snapped with a rubber band).
The easiest way to avoid ending up with a tattoo you’ll regret is to ask yourself some serious questions before you go to the tattoo studio. How will I feel about the tattoo in 20 years time? Could it affect my chances of career development? Am I sober? (A serious question – many people make impulsive and badly thought-out decisions after drinking, although a good tattoo artist will refuse to tattoo anyone who is obviously intoxicated and unable to make a rational decision about such a permanent alteration to their body). If the tattoo has a deep significance to you, then the chances are you won’t regret it. But if you do wish you had never got inked, laser tattoo removal is probably the best alternative and will eradicate that mistake relatively easily.
Dr Sean Lanigan
Direct Marketing Manager