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What Could Go Wrong?

What could go wrong?

One of the problems with sticking yourself a thousand times a minute and injecting, hopefully noninfectious, ink into your skin, is not everyone has the outcome they expect.  Infections with hepatitis, a type of liver infection, antibiotic resistant bacteria, or even HIV/AIDS are a possibility with each tattoo visit, in fact with each needle stick!   While individual states monitor and inspect tattoo parlors, they simply don’t have the resources to provide the oversight needed to prevent infections entirely.  Not to mention the illegal ‘private’ tattoo artists that organize and attend tattoo parties in homes across the country.  There is NO regulation or oversight of these criminals who use poorly cleaned needles, inferior or expired ink, and the fact that most who attend have been drinking, coupled with the peer pressure, to entice under-aged teenagers to adopt a tattoo, and a possible life-threatening infection.  Scientists are monitoring the incidence of hepatitis as the number of tattoos increase, and some believe that there is a curiously direct relationship in the growth of both of these numbers.


There are, of course, no definitive answers to how many infections come from getting a tattoo, or even your specific infection rate from each parlor visit.  But everyone agrees your chances for acquiring an infection are significantly  increased by getting a tattoo.   A scientific study published in the journal Medicine (Haley RW, Fischer RP, Commercial tattooing as a potentially source of hepatitis C infection, Medicine, March 2000;80:134-151) showed an increased rate of Hepatitis C in patients who used commercially approved tattoo parlors.  In fact, he found that getting a tattoo from a tattoo parlor gave you a higher risk of getting Hepatitis C than IV drug use, sexual promiscuity, blood transfusions, or any other measure studied. He looked at people who already had Hepatitis C and studied how they may have contracted the disease that kills thousands every year.   While most would think using intravenous drugs or being sexually promiscuous would increase your chances of getting Hepatitis C far higher than a legally acquired tattoo, it turned out that in this study, a tattoo is far more dangerous, and deadly!  Time will tell if the results of this study are really true, and the Center for Disease Control has not issued any directives as it relates to tattoos, so by far most people getting tattoos professionally do fine.


The  increase in people getting inked has also seen an increase in lawsuits related to bad outcomes. people are suing for damages related to the permanent scars related to tattooing.


There have been recent reports that some are mysteriously developing skin cancer at the site of certain tattoos and/or certain colors.  One of the ways to determine if you have skin cancer is a change in the color of your skin. If your skin is colored with ink, how can you detect redness, or a mole that is changing character? These issues need to be considered especially if your family has a high rate of skin cancer.

Inspect for Infectious Sources

Your local health department inspects area tattoo parlors to ensure they have adequate protective measures, a clean environment, appropriate sterilization techniques, new needles, sound procedures, and more.  These inspections serve a vital purpose to help the tattoo parlors ‘do the right thing’.  Without someone keeping then honest, many more infections due to cost cutting measures would appear.  The needles, the ink, the ink guns, alcohol, and time cleaning, all cost money and impact what a tattoo artist takes home at the end of the day.  If you had one customer you’re working on, and two waiting, wouldn’t you move faster?  And what would you compromise, the tattoo itself? or the clean up?  We all know the final tattoo artistry is what brings future customers in, so that is a priority, but the skipped clean-up may never be detected by the next unsuspecting customer.  Make sure your tattoo artist takes their time, and schedules you a time, that way all precautions can be made.

Obviously getting a tattoo in a run down, dark, dirty parlor is definitely a bad start to your tattoo experience. For much more on what could go wrong buy the e-book, Tattoos: Should I or Shouldn’t I?




  • Unclean Tattoo Parlor


  • Bad Tattoo Artist


  • Bad equipment/needles


  • Unclean technique


  • Heavy Metal Poisoning


  • Keloid scarring


  • Skin Cancer


  • Hepatitis B & C


  • Can’t donate blood for a year (because they don’t want your blood!)


  • Tetanus


  • Heart Valve Problems




  • STAPH Infections


  • Tattoo too big


  • Tattoo placement is wrong


  • Allergic reaction to certain inks


  • Possibly prevented from getting  MRI


  • Outdated tattoo


  • Stupid idea not thought through