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All Things Tattoo

Updated on November 20, 2014
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Gotta Love Tattoos

Whether you have them or not, you've gotta love tattoos. Tattoos are an expression of not only the wearer but also the artist behind them. Good, bad, or indifferent, tattoos bring added color to the world. Looking at tattoos and hearing the backstory behind why someone got a certain tattoo can be extremely interesting. Personally, I'm too chicken, not to mention too fickle, to have a tattoo myself, but that doesn't stop me from looking at others' and admiring their ink.

Tattoo Funnies

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Weird Al Yankovic "Another Tattoo" Parody of "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B

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Eyeball Tattoos

Can you believe it? People are actually tattooing their eyeballs. I haven't seen any of these tattoos in person, but sounds painful if you ask me. Now I'm not judging, but I'm too chicken to get a tattoo on my body let alone on my eye. Tattooing of the cornea has been around for quite some time. Primerily it was used as a way to make a blind eye look normal. Most doctors would not consider tattooing a perfectly healthy eye, but back in 2008, Pauly Unstoppable from Canada stepped up to have not his cornea but his sclera, the white part of the eye, tattooed. Nearly 40 pricks with a needle into the eye later and Pauly's now got blue eyes. Literally. Since then there have been several who have gotten their eyes tattooed, and it hasn't stopped their. Eyeball piercing has also emerged as a new form of body modification. WOW! All I have to say is, to each their own.

Can a tattoo that has been removed via laser tattoo removal treatments still be seen under UV lighting?

If you’re a fan of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, you may recall an episode recently where Doc Robbins performed an autopsy on a “Jane Doe” who had no finger prints and traces of THC in her system as well as some evidence of chemotherapy drugs. Doc Robbins noted a discolored lymph node and at first assumed it was due to the cancer for which she had been treated. On further investigation, removal, and dissection of the lymph node, Doc Robbins determined the discoloration was from tattoo ink, though he had not seen a tattoo on her body. He switched to a UV light source and, with the assistance of CSI Brody, discovered that “Jane Doe” had once had a tattoo on her neck that had been removed via laser tattoo removal treatments. Really? Is it possible to see your laser removed tattoo under UV light long after it is no longer visible under regular lighting?

It’s an interesting concept, but one that is likely fabricated in someone’s imagination. Laser tattoo removal works by heating ink particles to the point that they shatter into tiny particles that the immune system can then flush away. This process does take ink particles through the lymph nodes which could, in fact, lead to discolored lymph nodes, but just getting a tattoo can cause the same discoloration because some ink particles are already small enough for the immune system to flush away. This is why tattoos tend to fade over time. Back to tattoos removed via laser…since the ink gets broken up and flushed away, once the ink is gone from the body, there would be nothing left to fluoresce under an ultra violet light source.

On the other hand, some physical trauma to the skin can be seen under ultra violet light. Old bruises and such have been seen months after the visible bruising had faded. That being said, it may be possible to see the trauma caused to the skin during laser treatment long after the skin has healed. Of course, whatever image you may see of a laser removed tattoo under ultra violet light would never be the crystal clear image depicted in the TV show. We’re not even sure you would be able to tell it was a tattoo that had undergone laser tattoo removal treatments. It did make for an interesting story, though.

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Medical Alert Tattoos

Forget those often expensive and easy to lose medical alert bracelets and necklaces. Why not go for something more permanent? A medical alert tattoo may be just the answer. It's always with you, it can't be lost, and hopefully it can be seen in an emergency situation. The problem with these medical alert tattoos is that they are not regulated. EMT's are trained to look for medical alert bracelets and necklaces. They all look similar and are worn in the same places. Tattoos on the other hand, can come in all different shapes and sizes and can be placed in many different areas of the body. Another downside is that you may need a new tattoo for every new diagnosis. Bracelets and necklaces are often backed by a call center. To add a new diagnosis, instead of going out and getting a new bracelet or necklace, the patient can simply call the 800 number and update the information on file. Perhaps one day soon these medical alert tattoos can be regulated and used in the same was as necklaces and bracelets, but until then, it may be a good idea to stick with the tried and true bracelet.

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Hair Tattoos?

We all remember the "Hair Club for Men" commercials of way back when, right? Or am I dating myself there? Oh well, balding and thinning hair is still a problem that many men and also women deal with on a daily basis. A new procedure, hair tattoos, may just be the answer these men and women are looking for.

While the hair tattoos are not done in a traditional tattoo parlor, the concept is the same. Ink is injected beneath the surface of the skin. Thousands of tiny, irregular marks are made on the scalp to simulate the appearance of hair follicles. For men, the procedure creates the look of hair that has been cut into a "buzzed" look. For women, it helps to create a fuller thicker head of hair by eliminating the contrast between the light scalp and the darker hair. The results are incredible.


Tattoo time lapse Jose Perez, Jr.

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White Ink Tattoos

A rapidly growing trend in the tattoo community seems to be white ink tattoos. Until recently white ink was primarily used to highlight colorful tattoos, but rarely as the primary color of the tattoo. Now, using white ink as the primary or even only color in a tattoo is becoming very popular. Part of the appeal is that white ink tattoos are much more subtle than their dark/colorful counterparts. White ink can be placed on more exposed areas with little risk of backlash in the workplace. And if they are seen by the boss, they are much easier to cover than bold, black tattoos.

White ink tattoos do have a downside, however. First, it is hard to use a stencil for a white ink tattoo as the risk of mixing stencil ink with the white tattoo ink is great. When these inks mix, the color becomes a pale blue, pale purple, or even a grayish color. While these colors are still much more subtle than a black or colorful tattoo, the desired look is lost when stencil ink mixes with white tattoo ink.

Another issue with white ink tattoos is that they are much more prone to degrade due to sun exposure. They can fade completely as the sun’s ultraviolet rays breakdown the ink particles. In other instances, the white ink can become yellowed or even turn a brownish or even a gray color. There again, the desired result of an all white tattoo is lost.

As with any tattoo, but more so when looking to get an all white or predominantly white ink tattoo, make sure you understand the process and the risks. Find an artist who is confident in working with all white ink, but above all find an artist who has experience with white ink tattoos.

Temporary tattoos with a purpose

Even temporary tattoos are being used for more than just decorating the body. Some are being used to help return lost children to their parents. These temporary tattoos say things like, "If I'm lost, help me be found," and have a place for a parent's phone number. An interesting concept, that's for sure. As long as the child's name or other personal information is not used, I'm all for it. Information that is personal to a child could give strangers an advantage in luring children away. If the stranger calls the child by name, the child assumes this person is someone he should know. Generic information such as the parent's phone number is a great way to help reunite a lost child with his or her parents.

Glow-in-the-dark temporary tattoos are also finding new practical uses. Brightly colored glow-in-the-dark arrows can be placed on the outer forearm and used as turn signals during evening bike rides. The thought is that the neon colors and glow-in-the-dark effect would be cool enough for teens to actually use.

Tattoos keeping you from getting a job?

While tattoos are becoming more accepted in mainstream society, they are still causing people to be denied employment simply because their ink is showing. Many have been through the final hiring stages only to have the job removed from their grasp when an employer discovers a tattoo.

Many companies have varying degrees of "no tattoo" policies, and whether you agree with the practice or not, tattoos can keep you from getting a job. Di you ever think it would happen to a supermodel, though? Well, Niki Taylor has been denied jobs because of her tattoos. For that reason alone, she is enduring laser tattoo removal. The main "deal breaker," as Niki calls it, is a relatively large cover-up tattoo on her right forearm. However she is also having 2 tattoos on her back removed as well as a small tattoo on her left wrist.

Niki says she would rather give birth than to have her tattoos removed. She says the process is extremely painful. While laser tattoo removal is not comfortable, it should not be that painful. Many patients I have come in contact with say, "That didn't hurt as bad as I thought it would." Personal pain tolerance does play a tremendous role in how much pain the patient experiences, however, when properly performed with an accurately calibrated laser, the experience should not be unbearable.

If you have a tattoo that is preventing you from getting a job, laser tattoo removal is a very effective option. Be sure to do your research, though to ensure the facility knows what they are doing and are using the right laser for the job. If you don't a tattoo that is impacting your job opportunities, make sure you put a lot of though into the position on the body you place your next tattoo.

Tattoo Museum

This place definitely sounds like an unforgettable experience. Amsterdam's tattoo museum is home to probably one of the most complete tattoo collections in existence today. Founder Henk Schiffmacher, 59, started collecting tattoo related memorabilia while working in advertising. Over the span of 30 years, he amassed around 60,000 items. When he approached other museums they were interested in just bits and pieces of his collection. Because Henk wanted to keep the collection intact, he decided to open his own museum.

The museum houses tattoo machines, artwork, prints by Japanese master Horiyoshi III, tools from legendary Samoan tattoo family Suluape, and so much more. Possibly one of the most interesting pieces is the skin of a 19th century Boston whaler preserved in formaldehyde. His tattoos were saved in hopes that one day they would help identify him. Unfortunately they did not.

In addition to the collections from Ancient Africa, Polynesia, and Samoa on the ground level, and Western and European tattoo culture memorabilia on the second floor, you can find a working tattoo shop on the top floor. Visitors can experience all the fascinating exhibits as well as the library, publishing house, cafe, bookstore, and memorial garden the museum has to offer and leave with a very permanent souvenir. Guest tattooists visit regularly.

Perhaps you'd rather leave something behind than take a souvenir home. Although tattoos are permanent in the skin, when the wearer dies so does the artwork. In order to keep their work alive and preserve physical examples of the artists' skill, several people are donating their skin to the museum. Interesting.

So what are we waiting for? Let's go! If only it were that easy.

Forehead tattoo

In the world of tattoos, nothing should be surprising, but every now and then something comes along that makes you scratch your head. An LA DJ got a tattoo on his forehead in order to win Laker's NBA Finals tickets in 2001. So maybe a tattoo on the forehead isn't that big of a deal. What about the message of the tattoo? The tattoo reads "I slept with Shaq." Obviously David "Tattoo" Gonzalez has the kind of personality that doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks. Personally, I wouldn't want a permanent message tattooed on my forehead, but more power to him. He did win the tickets. Even more astonishing, the tattoo eventually led him to acquire a job as a DJ on Power Radio in LA. The DJ who originally presented the challenge offered the job to David. Normally a tattoo would not be something an employer would want to see, but perhaps it's the personality underneath the tattoo that got David the job. It's been more than a decade now, and the tattoo still remains. I wonder if David has any plans in the future to have the tattoo removed.

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Million Dollar Tattoo?

If a picture’s worth a thousand words could a tattoo be worth a million dollars?

That just may be the case with a tattoo Kate Moss has on her low back. So what makes Kate’s tattoo more special than anyone else’s? Kate Moss was tattooed by world-renowned German painter Lucian Freud.

The two met in 2002 when Kate agreed to pose for a nude painting while pregnant. She says Freud was telling her about doing all of the tattoos for the sailors when he was in the Navy. He offered to tattoo her, and after a short discussion about what she liked, he tattooed “a flock” of swallows on her low back. She joked with Vanity Fair saying that “if it all goes terribly wrong, I could get a skin graft and sell it!” It is an original Freud, after all.

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