Very simply a tattoo is a puncture wound made in the skin that is filled with ink. Although done differently today than in the past the technique is still somewhat similar. Today, tattoo artist use a tattoo gun that has one or more needles that penetrate the skin and delivery ink into the skin. Tattoos last a very long time due to the fact that the ink is placed deeply into the skin. The top layer of skins is called the epidermis and it is constantly shedding and being reproduced. If the ink from a tattoo was in this layer of skin it would not last very long. The layer of skin that the ink is injected to is called the dermis, which is a deeper layer of skin that is very stable and makes the tattoo stay visible almost permanently.
Tattoos in the past were done manually with a tool that they tapped on the skin to make the puncture wound and then the ink would be injected by hand. Most tattoo shops today have tattoo guns or machines to do this today, although you can still find areas around the world that still use the older style of tattooing. The tattoo guns make tattooing much more quickly today because the machine is able to deliver the ink into the skin as it is puncturing the skin. The tattoo artist can change the tip of the machine to contain one needle or group of needles depending on if they are drawing the outline of the design or shading part of the design. Most tattoo artist today are very skilled and know just how far to drive the needle into the skin to produce a good tattoo. Not going deep enough can result in ragged tattoo and going to deep can result in excessive bleeding, not to mention the pain would be much worse.
Does It Hurt?
Getting a tattoo can hurt and can take several hours or even days to complete depending on the size and design of the tattoo you are getting. The amount of pain can and will very depending on the location of the tattoo. Everyone has a different threshold to pain also. The art has a bit to do with it also. A good tattoo artist can provide less pain over a new or less experienced tattoo artist.
So you want a Tattoo!
First and foremost, if you are going to get a tattoo, get it done safely! Remember, a tattoo is a puncture wound that needs to be taken care of just like any other scrape or cut that you may get. By taking care of your tattoo you will be less likely to have it get infected. It may sound a little silly but you need to make sure that your immunizations are up to date. Tattoo shops today have implement steps to help you avoid infections and disease but it doesn't hurt to take an extra step for your own safety. Have a plan to get medical care if your tattoo does get infected. Some signs of infection are excessive redness, prolonged bleeding, pus or changes in your skin color around the tattoo.
If you have a prior or existing condition such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes or a condition that effects your immune systems by all means consult with your doctor. He may be able to recommend precautions that you can take before getting your tattoo.
Choosing the place to get your tattoo is very important. You want to be sure the tattoo shop is clean and safe. Things such as needles, gloves, mask should all be disposable and should never be used on more than one person. The guns themselves and other equipment that is not disposable should be sterilized after every use. You can contact your local government agencies(county, city, local health department) that can inform your on licensed tattoo shops, standards or complaints against a specific tattoo shop.
What to expect
First of all you will need to find your design that you are wanting tattooed on your body. The tattoo shop you are going to will most likely have thousands of designs that you can look through. You may also be able to have the artist create a unique design for you. There are also may designs to choose from on the web. Once you have decided on a design you will need to decide on a location. You may already have a location in mind and be able to choose the tattoo you will be getting for that particular location. The tattoo artist will then clean and even shave if necessary to area getting tattooed and apply a type of stencil of the tattoo on that area and allow you to see it. This will give you a good idea of what it will look like. As the artist is getting the ink and gun ready they will explain things about the needles and the procedures in order for you to become more comfortable with the whole process. When you are both ready they will begin the outline. Once the outline is finished the tattoo artist will once again clean the tattoo area and most likely change the needles in the gun to do the shading or fill in. After finishing the tattoo the artist will again clean the tattoo area and apply some type of antibiotic ointment and then it will be covered with a bandage. Congratulations! You now have a new tattoo. It will take a few days to heal but soon you will be able to remove the bandage and show off your new art.
The last step you will need to follow in very important. That is taking care of your new tattoo until it is fully healed. The tattoo shop will give you instructions that you should follow and will most likely give you ointment to use on your tattoo. Just remember to contact your doctor if something about your tattoo seems out of the ordinary (as discussed earlier). Make sure that you keep your tattoo bandaged for the first 24 hours. This will help in the healing process greatly. You will want to avoid touching the new tattoo and picking at any scabs that may form. After all, it is a wound and will most likely form some scabs in places. When you wash it for the first time try to use an antibiotic soap and just pat it dry. Re-apply some antibiotic ointment and also re-bandage it. This will only help your tattoo to heal. You want to avoid getting your new tattoo wet(pools, hot tubs, long showers) until the tattoo has fully healed. The other important step is keeping your tattoo out of direct sunlight. Even after it is fully healed the sun can cause fading of your tattoo a great deal. So it is suggested to use a sun screen on your tattoo for quite some time so that your new tattoo does not begin to fade to soon.