August 2017
History of Tattoos

If you have a tattoo, you're part of a rich cultural history that dates back at least 8,000 years. Where did this practice of body modification come from, and how has its function changed over time? In this TED Ed lesson, Addison Anderson tracks the history of getting inked. View the full lesson here.
Women's Revolutionary Aesthetic

Tattoos: Women's Revolutionary Aesthetic | Christine Braunberger
Tattoos: Women's Revolutionary Aesthetic | Christine Braunberger

In this TED Talk, Dr. Christine Braunberger -- a published author and English Professor at Onondaga Community College -- talks about the revolutionary potential that exists in the ways that tattooed women are redefining their own beauty. In this talk, she discusses how women are embodying an aesthetic that celebrates self-expression and personal control.
Click here to view an infographic that looks at the current state of the tattoo industry, who gets tattooed, how they are applied, and how to have them removed.

As the popularity of body art grows, state legislatures have had to amend their body art laws to ensure that activities are performed safely, do not conflict with activities of other certified professionals (such as dentists), and protect minors. Visit their website to learn the body art laws for your state.

MedlinePlus provides information on various topics in an easy-to-understand language. View their website for reliable, up-to-date information related to body piercings and tattoos, including where to find an expert, the latest news, publications, and even clinical trials.

Over the years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received hundreds of adverse event reports involving tattoos. To learn more about safe tattooing, view their recently updated consumer Q&A page on tattoos. Also visit their site on tattoos and permanent makeup for women.

The Alliance of Professional Tattooists was founded in 1992 by like-minded Tattooists, not for what they could get, but for what they could give back, with the goal of providing resources and shared information to allow Tattooists to practice their trade safely.
Tattoos & Body Art
Body art has been a common cultural practice for thousands of years and includes body piercings, transdermal and subdermal implants, tattoos, scarification, body stretching and sculpting, dental grills, and even nail art. 

This month we focus on these various forms of body art, highlighting their history, risks, and benefits. An article recently published by the AORN Journal discusses each body art form; we include descriptions from this article below.  

Body Piercing
Body piercing has been performed for thousands of years and continues to be popular today. The most common piercing site is the ear. The tongue, nipple, lip, eyebrow, and genitals are less likely to be pierced than the ear, though, these sites are more commonly pierced today than in years past. Body piercings are considered a semi-permanent form of body art because removing the jewelry does not guarantee the hole will close without defects or visible changes in the skin.

Transdermal & Subdermal Implants
Transdermal implants are semi-permanent implants in which the skin is pierced to create a one-way hole through which a small anchor is placed beneath the skin.  Subdermal implants are semi-permanent, decorative hardware that and are placed completely under the skin. The hardware itself is not visible but creates raised designs that are visible at the skin level. Risks include infection, scarring, and migration.

Tattooing is the depositing of ink pigment along a needle track into the epidermis and dermis (skin penetration is 0.6 to 2.2 mm deep). Only the ink deposited into the dermis is permanent; the epidermal layer flakes and sloughs off as it is replaced with new cells. Over time, however, tattoo colors invariably fade. Today, this art form is becoming increasingly popular in mainstream culture. Approximately 15,000 tattoo parlors operate in the US.

Scarification is performed by scratching, etching, or cutting designs into the skin with a blade and allowing a scar to form into a permanent design. A common methodology includes branding, an extreme form of scarification where images are burned onto the body. Skinning, hatching , abrasion, and scarring moxibustion are other forms of scarification involving cuts, skin removal, and burning. All forms of scarification can lead to infections and excessive scarring.

Body Stretching
With stretching, a body part is stretched beyond its normal limit or size. The most popular body part that is stretched is the earlobe. Either larger implants are inserted to stretch a hole made by piercing or the weight of the hardware that is inserted in the hole fosters the stretching process. Risks associated with stretching include skin blowout and excessive scarring with keloid formation.

Body Sculpting
Sculpting requires a body part to be permanently altered. Examples of this practice include cutting off the top cartilage of the ear and sewing it back on to form a point (resembling elf ears) and tongue splitting (cutting the middle of the tongue from the tip back). Sculpting is painful when performed without anesthesia, and infection is a possible complication.

Dental Grills
Dental grills are decorative covers made of solid gold or a mixture of gemstones and metal that can either temporarily slip onto or be permanently affixed to the teeth. Possible complications that may be experienced by a person wearing a grill long-term include tooth decay, gum disease, worn enamel, and halitosis--all because of the tendency for bacteria to collect under the grill. 

Nail Art
Nail polish can be adorned with sparkles, glitter, decals, and pieces of foil with gel superimposed. Nail art can even be three-dimensional. People have been known to attach such items as plastic bows, figurines, flowers, jewels, or charms to their nails.

No Matter What, Protect Yourself
No matter which form of body art an individual chooses to take part in, it is important to understand the risks and ways to protect themselves from serious injury and infection. See the resources to the left to learn more.

New Blog Post!

In this blog, " How Tattoos Are Helping Women Recover from Serious Health Issues," Christina Heiser of Women's Health Magazine talks about how, in some cases, ink actually serves a health purpose. Tattoos can be used to do everything from camouflage serious burns to mask the scars from breast cancer surgery -- all of which can help women regain their confidence after a traumatic accident or health crisis.

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