A Review Of Tattoos Biology Essay

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To start up, firstly what is tattoo? A tattoo is a punching wound deep in the skin which is filled with ink. It's made by injecting the skin with a needle deep to the area, creating some kinds of design. It's usually last for a long time because it's injected so deep into the dermis which is the 2nd deeper layer of skin. And because its very stable, the tattoos is practically permanent. Tattoos used to be done manually - that is, the tattoo artist would puncture the skin with a needle and inject the ink by hand. Though this process is still used in some parts of the world, most tattoo shops use a tattoo machine these days. A tattoo machine is a handheld electric instrument that uses a tube and needle system. On one end is a sterilized needle, which is attached to tubes that contain ink. A foot switch is used to turn on the machine, which moves the needle in and out while driving the ink about 1/8 inch (about 3 millimeters) into your skin.

Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.


No one can really say when the history of tattoos began. The oldest known tattoo was discovered in 1991. It was found on a mummy known as Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be at least 5300 years old. His tattoos consist of horizontal and vertical lines. There is some debate as to why the tattoos are there while the most common idea is that the tattoos were done for medicinal purposes. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are located over various joints on the body. The thought is that the tattoos were made while a form of acupuncture was administered to relieve painful joints. Today, the same sites are used for acupuncture. Other ideas range from social status and ritual markings to tribal marks or simple preference Prior to finding Oetzi, the Russians excavated bodies that were determined to be over 2400 years of age. These mummies were found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. Instead of lines, their tattoos are in the form of animals both real and imaginary. Many of these tattoos are thought to be decorative only while others appear to be a symbol of status rank. The Egyptians have one of the most well known cultures for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been found to be covered in various tattoos. Women flaunted tattoo designs that were restricted to women only. These designs were mostly a series of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are thought to have been forms of ritual markings. In Japan, tattoos were first used on clay figures. These human shaped figures represented a deceased individual and were found in the tombs of the person they resembled. The tattoos were carved or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these markings have religious or magical significance. The figures have been found in tombs that have been dated from 3,000 BC. Japan's first documented tattoo is from 297 AD and has been shown to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were known as the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and eventually created the full body suit tattoo.

Many years later, tattoos were made widely popular by the circus. Acts are performed by people completely covered in tattoos. Individuals are renowned simply for their number of tattoos. Patrons of the circus are enamored by the extravagant and colorful tattoos of circus performers resulting in an increased number of tattoos across the world.

Tattoos have been found in history all over the world. They have been determined to be a representation of a variety of things such as social status, religion and many times just for decoration. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, size and color pattern imaginable. Whether they've been found to be something that was once held sacred or they're for decoration only, tattoos have been around for ages and will continue to be around for ages to come.

Dr. Charles Baldwin is a freelance copywriter and retired contractor. He has worked as a tattoo artist, in a previous life!

Tattoos Types:

One of the most popular forms of body art, in the present times, tattoo can be described as a permanent marking on the body. In the art of tattooing, colored ink is inserted into the body, through the layers of skin. The result is a change of the skin pigment, whether for decorative purposes or otherwise. Undertaken since the prehistoric times, tattooing art is today practiced almost throughout the world. One can find a wide variety of tattoos being offered by the tattoo parlors, ranging from the abstractions to stylized designs. In the following lines, we have provided information on the different types of tattoos that have gained popularity in the present times.

The types of tattoos on the basis of the style of designs used therein. Let us know more about them.

- Abstraction Tattoos:

Abstraction tattoos, mostly derived from archaic styles of tattooing, do not involve too much artwork. Mostly done in shades of black and classic gray, such tattoos are commonly made around the navel, chest and calves, though arms and upper back are also emerging as a popular choice. Abstractions tattoos include tribal and Celtic style tattoos, Old English lettering and Chinese symbols.

- Naturalistic Tattoos :

When an attempt is made to portray the tattoos in a realistic style, they tend to take the 'natural' form. The portrayal, involving minute detailing, shading and perspective, is done in such a way that imparts a tattoo design as much realism as possible. With their cost a little on the higher side, naturalistic tattoos more popularly comprise of faces of Native Americans and religious leaders.

- Dedication Tattoos:

Dedication tattoos, commonly known as 'pledges', involved the use of the sailor-based designs, like the heart and name banner, the anchor with a ship name, and the insignia of a military regiment. Not much popular in the present times, they command a reasonable price, mainly because of the reason that they are amongst the standard designs offered at a tattoo parlor.

- Simplification Tattoos:

Simplification tattoos do not have any limiting boundaries in terms of the designs. Almost any and every shape and size can be included in this type, as long as it is stylized by the tattoo maker. Right from the action figurines and animals to flowers and hearts, the range of designs in simplification tattoos is quite wide. Panthers and lions are the popular designs in standard simplification tattoos, while dragons and zodiac signs rule the roost in custom-made stylized tattoos.

- Complex Tattoos:

Complex tattoos, as their very name suggests, involve designs that are much more intricate than the other styles. Also known as combination tattoos, they comprise of an amalgamation of various tattoos, making them much more impressive than the other type of designs. The most popular complex tattoos comprise of traditional Japanese body suits and combinations of unrelated images.

Painting Process:

The body art of tattooing mainly involves the procedure of injecting one or more pigments into the dermis, the layer of connective tissue that lies just below the epidermis. After the pigment is injected into the skin, the immune system's phagocytes get activated in the epidermis and upper dermis, swallowing up the pigment particles. The result is that the pigment goes down, throughout a homogenized damaged layer. As the particular body part undergoes healing process, the damaged epidermis starts flaking away.

With the flaking of epidermis, the pigment on the surface of the skin starts fading away. However, the deeper layers of skin experience the formation of granulation tissue. In time, owing to collagen growth, they get converted into connective tissues, mending the upper dermis. Since the upper dermis has pigment trapped within fibroblasts, its healing leads to the pigment in the layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary. Soon , the pigment becomes stable and with the passing time, engrains pigment deeper into the dermis, forming the tattoo.

- Traditional Procedures

In the earlier times, all the societies and cultures made use of different procedures for tattooing purposes. Some of these traditional procedures continue till date. For instance, in some tribal societies, tattoos are created by cutting designs into the skin and putting ink, ashes or other coloring agents into the wounds. In other cultures, tattoo making involves beating ink into the skin, using sharpened sticks or animal bones. Another tattooing method, mainly used in Japan, is called tebori. In this method, tattooing involves hand poking i.e. inserting the ink under the skin, with the help of non-electrical tools, which are handmade and handheld and have needles made of honed bamboo or steel.

- The Modern Method:

Today, the most common method of tattooing comprises of the use of electric tattooing machines. Apart from making the tattooing procedure much simpler, the machines have also increased its ease. The machine comprises of a group of needles that are soldered onto a bar. The bar has an oscillating unit attached to it. In the modern method, the ink is inserted into the skin, through the needles, which are repeatedly driven and out of the skin, somewhere between 80 and 150 times in a second.

The modern method of tattooing is much more hygienic as well as sterile as compared to the traditional methods. The needles used for the purpose are disposable in nature and come in individual packages. In the present times, almost all the tattoo artists take care to wash their hands as well as the 'area to be tattooed'. At the same time, they wear gloves and wipe the wound frequently, to prevent any infection or allergy. Still, one cannot completely do away with the risks involved with tattooing.

Health Risks:

- Risks of tattoos:

Given the popularity of tattoos, complications are relatively uncommon. However, because a tattoo breaches your skin - your body's main protective barrier - skin infections and other skin reactions are possible.

Tattoo inks are classified as cosmetics, so they aren't regulated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The pigments and dyes used in tattoo inks aren't approved for injection under the skin. Long-term effects of these are unknown.

Specific risks of tattoos include:

§ Blood-borne diseases.If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with the blood of an infected person, you can contract a number of serious blood-borne diseases. These include hepatitis C, hepatitis B, tetanus, tuberculosis and HIV - the virus that causes AIDS.

§ Skin disorders.Your body may form bumps called granulomas around tattoo ink, especially if your tattoo includes red ink. Tattooing can also cause areas of raised, excessive scarring (keloids), if you're prone to them.

§ Skin infections.Tattoos can lead to local bacterial infections. Typical signs and symptoms of an infection include redness, warmth, swelling and a pus-like drainage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked clusters of potentially serious antibiotic-resistant skin infections to unlicensed tattoo artists who don't follow proper infection-control procedures. Some antibiotic-resistant skin infections can lead to pneumonia, blood infections and a painful, flesh-destroying condition called necrotizing fasciitis.

§ Allergic reactions.Tattoo dyes, particularly red dye, can cause allergic skin reactions, resulting in an itchy rash at the tattoo site. This may occur even years after you get the tattoo.

§ MRI complications.Rarely, tattoos or permanent makeup may cause swelling or burning in the affected areas during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. In some cases - such as when a person with permanent eyeliner has an MRI of the eye - tattoo pigments may interfere with the quality of the image.

Medications may be necessary if you develop an allergic reaction, infection or other skin disorder. In some cases, permanent tattoo removal is required to resolve the complication.

Removing Process:

No one knows when the practice of tattooing the skin began, but Egyptian mummies dating back to 1300 B.C. have shown evidence of blue tattoo marks. Tattooing is accomplished by injecting colored pigment into small deep holes made in the skin. Regardless of who injects the pigment - a tattoo artist or an untrained person the marks or designs are relatively permanent. For various personal reasons, people turn to physicians to have tattoos removed.

Fortunately, there are several methods for tattoo removal which have proven successful. In most cases, however, some scarring or color variations remain. The conspicuousness of these blemishes depends upon several factors including size, location, the individual's healing pro-cess, how the tattoo was applied, and length of time it has been on the skin. A tattoo performed by a more experienced tattoo artist, for example, may be easier to remove since the pigment is evenly injected in the same level of the skin. A tattoo that has been on the skin for a considerable length of time may be more difficult to remove than a new one.

Methods of Tattoo Removal:

There are several excellent methods of tattoo removal available today. The method

that the physician chooses will depend upon the size of the tattoo and its location as well as the length of time it has been on the skin. How the patient heals may also be a factor in the decision.

- Excision:



Another popular method of tattoo removal especially when the dyed area is small is by excision. The advantage of this method is that the entire tattoo can be removed. With larger tattoos, however, it may be necessary to excise in stages, removing the center of it initially and the sides at a later date.

Excision involves an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the area after which the tattoo is removed surgically. The edges are then brought together and sutured. With this procedure, there is minimal bleeding which is easily controlled with electrocautery. In some cases involving large tattoos, a skin graft taken from another part of the body may be necessary.



- Laser:

In recent times, many physicians consider laser surgery one of the best methods of tattoo removal . Today, the Q-switched Nd:Yag , Q-switched Alexandrite and the Q-switched Ruby are among the most frequently used lasers today for the removal of unwanted tattoos. They are all employed in a similar manner. If necessary, a cream to numb the skin can be applied prior to the treatment. Pulses of light from the laser are directed onto the tattoo breaking up the tattoo pigment. Over the next several weeks the body's scavenger cells remove the treated pigmented areas. More then one treatment is usually necessary to remove all of the tattoo.

-Dermabrasion :

Another method of tattoo removal is called dermabrasion in which a small portion of the tattoo is sprayed with a solution that freezes the area. The tattoo is then "sanded" with a rotary abrasive instrument causing the skin to peel. Because some bleeding is likely to occur, a dressing is immediately applied to the area.

- Salabrasion :

Salabrasion, a procedure which is centuries old, is a method still sometimes used today to remove tattoos. As with the other methods, a local anesthetic is used on and around the tattooed area after which a solution of ordinary tap water dipped in table salt is applied. An abrading apparatus such as the one used with dermabrasion, or an even simpler device such as a wooden block wrapped in gauze, is used to vigorously abrade the area. When the area becomes deep red in color, a dressing is applied.

As a conclusion and regardless to which method of tattoo removal is used, its still has no positives that can be a considered to do about which leads to the main reason that commonly relates to the psychological situation and the social treatment toward them selves. These Conditions differ from each one to another which makes them feel that they want to express their problems and because of the absence of audience they usually resorts to tattoos and their un-understandable designs.

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Referances :

- Books :

1- Buckland, A. W. (1887) "On Tattooing,"

2- Hesselt van Dinter, Maarten (2005) The World of Tattoo

- Web sites :

1- http://historyoftattoos.org/

2- http://patient-info.com/tattoo.htm

3- http://tattoos.iloveindia.com/tattoo-types.html

4- http://tattoos.iloveindia.com/tattoo-procedure.html

5- http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/body_art/safe_tattooing.html