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Things to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo

Thinking of Getting Inked?

I have never gotten a tattoo unless you count the temporary henna kind, but it looks like I might be in the minority. About 25 percent of 18- to 30-year-olds have been inked, and 65 percent of them are women. If you've always wanted to get your fave butterfly etched onto your ankle, here are some things WebMD wants you to know before anyone puts a needle to your skin.

  • Pay the money and go to a shop that has licensed tattoo artists. Since getting a tattoo involves breaking the skin with a metal object and coming into contact with blood, you want to make sure the studio is clean, so there's the lowest risk possible for infection.
  • There are serious risks involved, such as contracting life-threatening HIV or hepatitis C from unclean equipment. You could also get other infections including impetigo, MRSA, or cellulitis. It's OK if you don't know what these are, just know you don't want them.
  • It's also possible to have an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink, so before getting an enormous fairy imprinted across your back, you probably want to do a small patch test on your skin first.

To find out what else you should know,


  • Also note that your skin will look a lot different at age 25 than it will at 65, so keep that in mind when choosing the design, size of tattoo, and area of your body.
  • The artist should thoroughly wash his or her hands before they begin, and wear gloves to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Be sure all needles are removed from a sterile, single-use package, and all equipment is sterilized after each use.
  • Make sure you don't drink alcohol or take drugs (including aspirin) the night before or while getting a tattoo.
  • If you're sick, wait until you're healthy to get your tattoo, since you'll need energy to heal.
  • Follow the after-care instructions so your skin heals quickly and without any complications.
  • After you've had a tattoo, you can change your mind and have it removed by a doctor, but know that your skin most likely won't look like it did pre-tattoo. The procedure tends to require a series of visits, it's expensive, and often the tattoo can't be completely removed.

Do you have a tattoo? Did you have any complications? Tell me in the comments section below.

Source: Flickr User geishaboy500

Join The Conversation
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 7 years
I have two. One I got in college and one I got post-college but still in my early 20's. It is now 10 years after I got my first tattoo, and I do wonder WTF I was thinking, but I will not pay or go through the pain to have them removed. Actually, I'd probably only like to have the first one removed. I'm OK with the second one. Both are in places that are easily covered with clothes. One is black, blue, purple, and yellow, and the other is black, red, orange, and yellow. I had no negative reaction, allergic or otherwise.
biarose biarose 7 years
I want to get a tiny one with my dog's name on it just so I can have something always with me to remember him by forever.
A-Journey-To-Wellth A-Journey-To-Wellth 7 years
I currently have 4 tattoos and I absolutely plan on getting more. All of my prior experiences were great with reputable artists in clean, sterile shops. You absolutely have to do your research to make sure that the place you've chosen is up to code and all artists are licensed, etc and you def pay for what you get. Someone mentioned in their comment about allergens and that is absolutely true with red ink. My most recent one is in the middle of my back and it covers a large portion of my spine and those parts that are red were slightly irritated and took a little longer to heal. All is fine now though. I'm happy with all of mine because they each have deep meaning and commemorate events/people.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I'd love to get one but I can't settle on a design. I'd love a design, scribble it on with a sharpie and hate it almost instantly.
doogirl doogirl 7 years
I have a tattoo. I love it! It's personal and I'm proud of it. I do think that if you're thinking of getting one, to really be sure of what you want, as an earlier poster said, it's expensive and painful to have them removed. My husband has our daughters' names on his arm, which I love, they are always with him. You do need to go to a reputable artist, my husband's first tattoo got infected because of the tattooer going too deep and it does not look good, he'll have it covered eventually. Also, my neighbor had his five kids' names put on his back by a friend instead of an artist, and they're crooked and barely readable. But I highly recommend tattoos, I think everyone should have one!
Allytta Allytta 7 years
i was considering it when i was 18, but i couldn't decide on the design and I knew a person really needs to know and love the design in order for it to be welcome on your body for the rest of your life. i was thinking something really small on the back of my wrist. my BF has one there - it's a zen symbol and he's a Buddhist so it's perfect for him and reflects his upbringing and mentality. that kind of tattoo is timeless i guess. i never had anything so important to me so i had no idea what to chose. so i decided not to get anything.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Lissy, I thought the same thing. Even if you account for the fact that 65% of that 25% are women, only 32%-33% of women on that age group have tattoos. Anyway, I don't have any, but I have thought about it. Everything I've ever considered has been something that has some sort of meaning to me.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
I don't think 25% is a majority
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
Nope. Never had one and never will. I'm positive I would regret getting anything permanent on my skin. I prefer the henna :) My sisters ex has full sleeves and was working on his back. Very colorful, religious and random things. The only abnormal thing I have had done to my body (other than ear piercings) was get a nose piercing (4 years ago). That was infected for about a month though I love it and sometimes completely forget that it's there, unless if it gets hooked on a shirt or something. Was asked if I was going to keep it in for my wedding. Wondering about that too.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 7 years
I have 5 currently, planning for more and have had no complications from any of them. I've also made sure to go to a reputable artist who always wore gloves and used fresh needles.
Merlin713 Merlin713 7 years
I don't have any. My sister has a lot...and one veeeeery large one on her back. I haven't seen it in person yet. My boyfriend has a few, but they all mean something -- military and a memory for his dad.
PhillyEagles1 PhillyEagles1 7 years
I would NEVER get a tattoo. I could just imagine being in the shower trying to scrub this image off and then crying my eyes out when it doesn't. And it annoyed the hell outa me when every other girl in school had a lower back butterfly tattoo. OMG. So tacky.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
My husband and I are both clean of tattoos. He wants to get my name tattooed on him but I told him to wait - because I would hate for him have to walk around with my name tattooed on him if something were to happen and we are not together. I told him he could do it if he wanted when we have our 5th anniversary.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
I wanted a tattoo so bad when I was 16, and I'm glad that my parents didn't let me get one. By the time I was 18, tattoos had become way too popular among the sorority girl types. Since they were no longer seen as rebellious, I didn't see the point.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I've never had the desire to get a tattoo. I'm not against them or anything; I just don't like the idea of a permanent picture on my body.
I'm pretty heavily inked where no one can see when I put on my suit to go to work (I love that, lol) and these are good tips. ESPECIALLY going somewhere that is really licensed because some tattoo parlors are gross. Also, really make sure you want it before you get it. After I thought about my tats I waited about 6 months to a year before I got each one. Never get a tat while drunk or high, you don't know how many people I see doing that, it's so ridiculous.
1apple 1apple 7 years
Nothing looks quite as good as skin IMHO...
syako syako 7 years
I have one. I didn't have any complications with it. I sometimes look at it and think, WTF? But, I won't get it removed or anything since it's pretty inconspicuous. Would I get another one? No thanks. I'm done. :)
Vanonymous Vanonymous 7 years
Make sure you really really want it! I got a tattoo at 18 and by 20 I started the laser removal process. Removing it is more painful than getting it and takes much longer (mine took 2 years going every few months... and it does take a few months to heal between sessions). Keep in mind that black comes out easier than color and greens are the most difficult to ever completely remove. Oh, and it costs thousands of dollars. Luckily, my parents hated the idea of me having a tattoo so they offered to pay as long as I never get another one... and I never would. Btw, I didn't have a boys name or anything dumb like that, I just had an illustration from my favorite book and ultimately decided I really hated having any sort of marking always on my body.
Vsugar Vsugar 7 years
I think it's important to mention that there are certain colors of tattoos that are more likely to cause allergic reaction than others - red is one of the higher frequency allergen colors. All black has the lowest incidence of allergic reaction. This is a good thing to consider when choosing the design and colors you want - also, if you have other tattoos already, and have an allergic reaction to the new tattoo, it is typical for all of the other tattoos you already have to show signs of allergic reaction!!
lixystix lixystix 7 years
i have four and even wrote my thesis on tattooing. these are great tips about selecting the right artists and what to think about for many years from now.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I am really torn on whether or not I should get the "M dot" tat after my IM...
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