Tattoo health risks: Why you should think before you ink

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Tattoo health risks: Why you should think before you ink

Thirteen needles are simultaneously zinging in and out of Adam Metzger’s shoulder.

The 27-year-old is unruffled. He stares unblinkingly out the storefront window of Taboo Tattoo, a studio in the Bishop Arts District. To his right, Cody Biggs shades blue into a square of the Texas state flag. His movements are sure, even.

The buzzing suddenly falls silent. Biggs pauses to dunk the handpiece into a thimble-sized plastic cup of ink, then turns back to his canvas. Metzger’s shoulder is pink and puffy, weeping streams of ink and blood.

“How are you doing, buddy?” Biggs asks, rubbing on ointment in counterclockwise circles.

“It doesn’t feel good, man,” Metzger responds. “But I’ve definitely felt worse pain.”

Plenty of people know what he’s been through. As of 2012, 1 in 5 adults had a tattoo, up from 14 percent in 2008, a Harris Interactive Poll found. And when safety standards are followed, tattoos are usually trouble-free.

But tattoos can pose health risks that many people might not consider: Unsterilized tools or contaminated ink can lead to infection, scarring, blood-borne diseases and other, less-obvious issues.“It’s becoming much more common, but you still have to be careful,” says Dr. Bryan Wasson, an internal medicine physician at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center at Irving. “A tattoo is like a minor surgery. You clean and shave the skin like you’re going to operate. You use surgical tools. There are dangers. So be careful in your selection.” The risks During the procedure, a gun with needles punctures the top layer of […]

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