#Think! Before you decide to get a tattoo Tattooing has become increasingly popular in recent decades. However, the risk of infections, allergy and the toxic effects of chemicals in the inks are little known by the public. In addition, about 20% of those who have had a tattoo regret their decision with many of them wanting to remove it. The EADV Media & PR Committee first started a public awareness campaign in 2014 with press releases during the congresses and information on the EADV website. In 2016, a first video cartoon was launched addressing the younger generation and focusing on the risks of tattooing. A new video cartoon illustrates the pitfalls of unprofessional tattoo removal. Policy-makers have also responded. The European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) began deve- loping a European standard on hygiene for tattooists (CEN 435) in 2016. That year, the Consumer Safety Network subgroup on tattoos and permanent make-up (PMU) of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, also published its final Report on the Safety of Tattoos and PMU . This concurred with the EADV campaign approach and stressed the importance of informing the youn- ger generation. The European Commission asked the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to assess whether there is a need to restrict certain substances used in tattoo inks and PMU. People who regret a tattoo will often look for a “do-it-yourself” solution and be tempted to use misleading products which are advertised on the internet. These chemical methods often contain caustic ingredients which can lead to burns and disfigurement. Others will choose more invasive methods such as dermabrasion and surgery, all potentially leading to scarring. The current standard of care for tattoo removal is a specific treatment with appropriate lasers. Some tattooists offer laser treatment but in many European countries this procedure is not allowed by
Christa De Cuyper, campaign co-ordinator
non-doctors; moreover, good knowledge of the devices and the skin condition is required. Unprofessional treatment can result in side effects including textural and pigmentary changes. Patient selection and counselling is important to avoid disappointment because the treatment is painful, tedious, expensive and not always suc- cessful. Laser tattoo removal should be done by an experienced professional. Even in the best hands a perfect outcome cannot be guaranteed. The best advice is always to think before going ahead with getting a tattoo!