Most Christian teens avoid tattoos.

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Teen tattoos:
Why many now want them removed

tattoos prisonbreakTattoos are still popular with some teens, although many others are now trying to get rid of them. A newspaper survey in March 2006 found that a quarter of tattooed people over 25 wish they didn't have them.

Tattoo specialists say demand for removals and modifications is booming, and will continue to rise.

Tattoo removal laser operator Samantha Massey told The Sunday Mail (March 5, 2006), “A few years ago it was fashionable to be tattooed, and some people decided to get one before they were ready to accept responsibility for something so permanent.”

Many showbiz idols now suffer from tattoo regret. (We are not implying that Wentworth Miller, pictured, does. His character, Michael Scofield, had a plan to save his brother hidden in the pattern of his tattoos.)

Actress Angelina Jolie had her left arm tattooed with ex-husband Billy Bob Thornton's name on it. She had it removed when she met Brad Pitt.

Rocker Pete Doherty slashed his arm to try to remove his tattoo tribute to supermodel Kate Moss, and heavily tattooed popster Robbie Williams said: “I wish it was like an Etch-a-Sketch where I can wipe them all out … it would be nice to have a pure, clean body again.”

Soccer superstar David Beckham had his wife's name tattooed in Hindi on his arm. After it was finished, he found her name was spelt wrong. Oops! Johnny Depp had a Winona Forever tattoo while he was with Winona Ryder. But Forever didn't last, and he had surgery to change it. It now reads Wino Forever.

Rapper Pharrell Williams announced in July 2008 that he was willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars growing new skin in a test tube so he could get it stitched over his tattoos.

Britney Spears had Hebrew letters removed from her neck, and Tommy Lee had a tattoo of a swastika removed in the early 1990s.

Best way to remove them

Tattoo removalist Dr. Gavin Chan told mX news (October 3, 2007) that the most effective removal technique at present is laser surgery.

“Green, white, yellow, and fluorescent colors are the most challenging to remove,” Dr. Chan said.

And it takes several sessions of laser treatment to get rid of a tattoo. Professional tattoos can take 10 sessions of treatment, with a local anaesthetic administered each time, and may cost $200 to $800 per session. And removal is painful!

The Bible’s view

The Old Testament view of tattoos is simple: Don't have them! Among the laws of social order given to the Israelites in Leviticus 19 is the instruction not to “print any marks upon you” (verse 28). The Hebrew words mean simply: Don't get a tattoo!

We know Christians who have tattoos, and think no less of them for this. The Mount Sinai law doesn't apply to Christians, and there is no compulsion for Christians to either have or not have tattoos. Tattooing has no bearing on salvation either.

Even so, the biblical advice is wise, we believe, because tattooing has allegedly contributed to skyrocketing rates of hepatitis, and to disorders such as skin cancer.

The emphasis on health and clean skin is starting to fade

In fact, news reports in May 2008 said that health experts in Australia have become alarmed over the surge in hepatitis cases since the tattoo and body-piercing craze caught hold.

Cases of Hepatitis B and C in Australia had jumped alarmingly to 277,000 in the past year, a health promotions officer said. “The rate of hepatitis is rising and that is because we have a high incidence of young people fooling around with tattoos and piercings,” Jodie Walton said

Health authorities in December 2011 warned that anyone who had had a tattoo or body piercing in Bali to urgently seek medical advice after a traveller contracted incurable HIV after getting a tattoo on a recent visit.

At one time, the New York City government severely restricted tattooing because tattoo equipment was spreading hepatitis. And some people are allergic to the dye used in tattoos, so their body fights to reject the tattoo.

Skin specialists are even warning against temporary tattoos. They say that many people develop severe reactions days or weeks after getting henna tattoos. The problem is not the henna; it is adding the chemical paraphenylene diamine (PPD) to the henna to make the tattoo darker. It can cause dermatitis that may last for months.


Angel tattoo

Tattooing has never been popular with many groups, including Jews and Christians. In recent history, people have associated tattoos with US convicts, British Army deserters, antisocial groups, prisoners, motorcycle and street gangs, and Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. At right is the tattoo on the arm of lesbian tennis player Amelie Mauresmo.

Another strong negative is that tattoos are difficult and costly to remove, and they may leave a permanent ugly mark on your skin. Getting a tattoo today may mean you will be stuck with it as tattoos go out of fashion again.

When we asked some Christian teens whether they would ever wear a tattoo, one said, “No. I don't want to look ugly.” Another said tattoos were just “skin graffiti” that made you look like a dirty wall.

Job turn-off

Tattoos can be a disadvantage when you are at a job interview. It depends what job you are applying for, of course. But a newspaper interview with recruitment companies in 2001 found that in a choice between an applicant with visible tattoos and one without, up to 70 per cent of employers will choose the applicant without tattoos.

It is hard to think of an advantage that a Christian could gain from having tattoos, and that is why so many Christian teens would rather remain cool and clean — with no tattoos.

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