There are a number of reasons you want a tattoo removal. Maybe you got a tattoo when you were young and impressionable but now you don’t like the connotations associated with having a tattoo. Maybe you have a big job interview and you know that certain job prospects will frown upon having someone with a tattoo. Maybe you had your then love of your life, John’s name tattooed on your arm and now your husband Jack doesn’t want to be reminded of him everyday. Or maybe you don’t like your old tattoo and want to get a new one using the space on your body. We previously posted about the 10 Reasons Why You Might Want To Remove Your Tattoos and gave you a brief summary for each. Let’s have a closer look at two studies from the Archives of Dermatology done into Reasons for Tattoo Removal and what we can learn from them.
In 1996, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center conducted a 67-question survey asking tattooed patients looking for tattoo removal at the Laser Dermatology Center, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on questions regarding motivations for getting a tattoo and motivations for getting tattoo removal. Researchers surveyed 64 tattooed males and 41 tattooed females between ages 17 and 62 and found that costs in terms of money, pain, risk of disfigurement all factored into the decision making process of tattoo removal. A major motivation for tattoo removal was an improved sense of self-identity and maturity.
The same researches followed up their 1996 study in 2006 by surveying 196 individuals who visited one of four dermatology clinics. 66 men and 130 women answered 127 questions about why they got a tattoo, motivations for removing their tattoo and other relevant questions. It was found that while most people were pleased with their tattoo markings, there are an increasing number of people who have regrets. About 20% of people with tattoos regret getting a tattoo but only about 6% of those that do will try to have tattoo removal.
The reasons for getting a tattoo in the first place were to feel unique (44%), to feel independent (33%) and to make life experiences stand out (28%). Reasons for tattoo removal were just deciding to remove it (58%), suffering embarrassment (57%), lowering of body image (38%), getting a new job or career (38%), having problems with clothes (37%), experiencing stigma (25%) and marking an occasion such as birthday, marriage or newly found independence (21%).
The study also found that people who get tattoos are more likely to be women (69%) versus men (31%). The women were often white, single, college educated and had moderate to strong religious beliefs, ages between 24 and 39. Women also reported to be pleased while they initially got the tattoo but feelings changed over the following one to five years. While males reported the same motivations for tattoo removal, there seemed to be more stigma and negative connotations associated with tattoos.
In concluding the two studies, the researches suggested stronger initiatives are needed in education to promote educating young people in changes in perceptions over time regarding tattoos and information regarding methods and accessibility to tattoo removal. It is also interesting to note that the researches found that in both studies, a shift in identity occurred amongst patients looking for tattoo removal, which seems to be a common occurrence regardless of the 10-year difference in both studies. It also seems to suggest women are more stigmatized by tattoos than men are.
What we can learn from these statistics is that although getting a tattoo is getting more and more popular, the stigma associated with tattoos is still prevalent. What we can provide is more information and details regarding tattoo removal and preserve the freedom of choice for all individuals.