Family 411: The main-stream phenomenon of tattoos and piercings

Lu Ann Stoia/WSYX

More teenagers are thinking about getting tattoos and piercings as a form of self-expression.

A new American Academy of Pediatrics study says now that tattoos are becoming a main-stream phenomenon, there's much to consider about the risks.

17-year-old Lean Wicks is getting a tattoo after talking it over with her mom, Stephanie, and her dad.

The Wicks family did their research to find a clean and reputable salon.

"I disinfect all the hard surfaces with a product that kills MRSA, hepatitis, HIV in about sixty seconds," said tattoo artist Katrina Polacek.

A recent Pew Research Center study says about 38 percent of young people between ages 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo.

"Is this something they are going to be able to have the maturity to care for?," asked Stephanie.

Leah took at least six months to come up with a design.

She loves geometric tattoos and Leah wants to remember her best friend, Gabby the cat.

Leah holds on to the hand of a friend for support during the procedure, which she says feels like a million bee stings.

"But as soon as the needle is off the skin, it doesn't hurt anymore," said Polacek. "It feels more like a sunburn."

Polacek advises parents to talk with teens about their goals for the future.

"Make sure they get it in spaces where in five years, when they graduate college or they have actually decided on a career, they will be able to cover it if necessary."
"Really consider what you are getting," said Leah. "What is means to you. Remember it is going to be forever."

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the rate of tattoo complications is low, but a real possibility.

"If their friends do it in their basement, they run a lot of risk of contracting hepatitis or MRSA or anything like that when their friends are doing it."

The salon should be regulated by the state and provide clients with information on how to care for the area afterward.

"My job here is done. It is now up to her to make sure that the tattoo heals up perfectly."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's a good idea for families to check with their family doctor before getting a tattoo. Particularly those who are diabetic or have medical conditions that give them a higher risk for infection.

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