5 May 2016
While tattoos appear to have increasingly infiltrated mainstream
culture in Australia and the social apprehension behind getting a
tattoo has seemingly disappeared, a Perth-based surgeon is
reminding people to remain vigilant of the medical risks that still
Dr Alexandra O'Neill today highlighted these risks at the Royal
Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress
(ASC) in Brisbane, where she profiled a recent case that had been
presented to her at the Royal Perth Hospital.
"In this instance the tattoo procedure occurred overseas and
both red and black ink was used.
"When the patient came to us there was a significant level of
scarring in the red ink portion of the tattoo, and the patient was
in quite a level of discomfort," Dr O'Neill said.
Following a series of injections and topical treatments the
scarring eventually healed and the patient eventually returned to
full health, but Doctor O'Neill urged caution to others considering
getting a tattoo.
"This was just one example, but the reality is that as more
people are getting tattoos, naturally we are also seeing more
people presenting to medical facilities experiencing
"There is a general level of understanding that getting a tattoo
might be uncomfortable and accompanied by some immediate or short
term pain, but I don't think there is quite the same level of
understanding for some of the more long term side effects."
The Department of Health warns of the dangers involved when
cosmetic tattooing is not performed correctly, and urges people to
make sure the body artist meets strict health and safety
While Dr O'Neill backed these claims, she also believes that
people should consider the general risks that apply to all tattoo
"There are certainly sensible precautions that can be taken to
minimise the level of risk, but as the process of getting a tattoo
breaches the skin, there will always be the possibility of allergic
reactions, skin infections and various other complications."
"This is not about limiting personal choice in any way. Some
people may evaluate these risks and decide that they want to go
ahead and get a tattoo anyway."
"But what we are trying to do is to communicate to those people
who may not have seriously considered the possible complications
that could occur.
"It is important that people are provided with the appropriate
level of information that they need, to help them make
informed choices, Dr O'Neill said.
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