MADRID (Reuters) – Arms covered in red and green ink, tattoo artist Alvaro Quesada is hardly what cancer survivors expect at a Madrid infirmary, the first public hospital in Spain to offer nipple and areola tattooing.
Yet his service of tattooing realistic-looking nipples onto women who have had their breasts reconstructed after mastectomies signals the final step of recovery from cancer, and women react with emotion to the process.
“They leave crying and hugging me. This is therapy,” says 32-year-old Quesada, who takes time out from his tattoo parlor to attend patients at the hospital.
Reconstruction can occur months, or even years, after breast cancer surgery with tissue expanders typically installed to stretch the skin and make room for a future implant. Creating the nipple comes later and involves one more operation.
“At this point most patients are exhausted,” said Lorenzo Rabadan, the doctor who first approached Quesada about providing women with an alternative to surgery. He invited the tattoo artist to train staff on the technique.
Clutching a pale pink tattoo gun, Quesada creates the three-dimensional illusion of a nipple on a patient’s reconstructed breast, mixing colors with names like ‘rose pink’, ‘brown sugar’ and ‘tribal black’ to mimic the natural shade of an areola.
Half-blind, Quesada offers his service free of charge. The national health service did not cover the cost of his false eye after he lost his left eye to a benign tumor.
For many, a quick and relatively painless session marks the end of a chapter.
“This means it’s over and I can pick up my life again,” said Mamen Malagon, 43. She was diagnosed with the disease in 2011 resulting in the mastectomy or removal of her left breast.
“All done,” she sighed as she got dressed. “Do you know what it means to say that it’s over?”
(Reporting by Amanda Calvo; Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Jon Boyle)
WAT BANG PHRA, Thailand (Reuters) – Deep in trances, devotees of a Thai temple charged through gathered crowds on Saturday mimicking the beasts on their tattoos.
Some had their hands curled into tiger claws, some became crocodiles, some were transformed into Hanuman, the monkey god.
The annual tattoo festival at Wat Bang Phra, about 80 km (50 miles) from Bangkok, draws thousands of devotees every year who come to recharge the power of sacred Sak Yant tattoos.
The tattoos are inked by Buddhist monks using sharpened bamboo sticks or long metal needles. Originally etched for warriors needing protection in battle, they are also believed to bring luck and give strength.
But every year, their magic power needs to be restored at the festival, where thousands of devotees pay their respects to the temple’s master tattooist.
Not everyone goes into a trance. Those who do take on the characteristics of their tattoos. They try to charge toward the temple, but are held back by a wall of temple guards and soldiers.
(Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Sam Holmes)
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to silence colleague Elizabeth Warren as she gave a speech last month, complaining that “nevertheless, she persisted,” few expected his words to become a battle cry for women.
But amid worries about the impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on women’s rights, “nevertheless, she persisted” is showing up on t-shirts, protest signs, social media and at a small tattoo parlor in Minneapolis, where hundreds of women are getting the phrase etched onto their skin.
The tattoo has proven so popular that the Brass Knuckle Tattoo Studio is booked for the month and temporarily ceased taking new appointments.
“Every single women has had a Mitch McConnell or 10 or 20 in her life trying to tell her how to be and what to do,” said Nora McInerny, a 34-year-old author and blogger who triggered the tattoo trend with an accidental public Facebook post.
“He said that to insult her, and really he just pointed out a fantastic trait of hers.”
The uproar started when McConnell, a Republican, tried to end a speech by Warren, a liberal Democrat, on the Senate floor in Washington, saying she was violating a Congressional rule.
“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” McConnell said. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
In midwestern Minneapolis, McInerny decided with her friends to get tattoos of the phrase, but she accidentally posted the invitation as a public event on Facebook.
“Suddenly 2,000 people were interested in it,” she said.
The Brass Knuckle Tattoo Studio is charging $75 for the tattoo, most of which is donated to Women Winning, a local organization that encourages women who support abortion rights to run for political office.
Women are getting the tattoos on their forearms, upper arms and even their feet, said one of the shop’s tattoo artists who goes by the pseudonym Emily Snow.
“It will not stop. It’s constant,” Snow said of the shop’s bookings.
Many of the women worry about Trump’s plans to roll back access to abortion and contraception, she said.
Trump has said the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion should be overturned and has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare program that covered the cost of contraception for millions of women.
“A lot of women are just frightened that the clock’s going to turn back in time,” she said.
“A lot of us want to join together and have a community… And I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t continue to persist.”
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Ros Russell and Alisa Tang. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
A report from the Australian government’s National Industrial Chemical’s Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) shows what’s in the ink that’s under the skin of more than 2 million Australians and about 100 million Europeans. And it’s not pretty.
The report found 471 different tattoo inks likely to be used in Australia made up of 89 unique chemicals. They interviewed 22 professional tattoo artists and sourced 49 specific tattoo inks likely to be used in Australian tattoo parlours for detailed chemical analysis.
Of the 49 inks NICNAS tested, only four complied with the European standards.
The major concern was the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a group of chemicals known to be carcinogens. PAHs were found in more than one-fifth of the samples tested and in 83% of the black inks tested.
Other non-compliant components include barium, copper, mercury, amines and various colourants.
In some inks, there was a mismatch between the content and the labelling.
One ink was sold and used for tattooing when the container label said it was not intended for this purpose.
Gone are the days of tattoos being seen only on bikies and sailors. Increasing proportions of the population have increasing proportions of the dermal layer of their skin injected with the multi-coloured artworks. There is no sign of demand dropping off.
This is an international challenge for regulators. Italy, for instance, had an eight-fold increase in the number of tattoo parlours from 2006 to 2015. Like us, they struggle to monitor what the effects might be.
Swiss health authorities analysed 416 ink samples and found 39 colourants that were never tested for use in contact with the human body.
It’s important to remember that humans have been tattooing their skin for thousands of years using various methods, some very crude. Outside the risks of infection from unclean injecting equipment, and some serious pre-existing medical conditions, there is little evidence directly linking tattooing to serious illness.
However, a German study found 67% of tattooed people reported complications. Of those, 7% were systemic (affecting more than just the skin around the tattoo) and 6% were persistent. These are mostly superficial skin infections but have included bacterial infections such as staphlococci and streptococci, mycobacteria and, in some rare cases, blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis B and C.
So what does all this mean? In short, no one really knows. Will everyone with ink get cancer? No. But the basics of toxicology tell us that the harm any substance does is influenced by how “poisonous” the substance is, the circumstances and nature of the exposure, and the dose people are exposed to.
Is there a prospect that with more people getting more tattoos, cancers linked to this exposure will occur? Again, we don’t know.
Specific concerns that tattoos might cause or mask skin cancer seem – so far at least – unfounded.
It seems timely to establish a study to follow up on those who have tattoos and how they fare compared with those with a “blank canvas”. The simple truth is, we have no idea what, if any, long-term health effects go with having tattoo ink injected into human skin.
Another complexity is the “DIY tattoo”. Controlling the ink administered by paid tattoo artists in identifiable businesses is one issue. Controlling the ink that comes through online shopping and is administered by enthusiastic amateurs at home is quite another.
So, if you already have tattoos, what should you do? Removing them may not help. The NICNAS report says:
These chemicals can undergo photo degradation under exposure to … solar radiation and lasers.
This means the chemicals, instead of being trapped under the skin, are released into the body. And it’s unclear what effect this might have.
As tattooing becomes increasingly mainstream, we need to ensure those who are considering getting tattooed are fully informed of the risks. And if they wish to proceed, we need to ensure they can do so as safely as possible.
Stopping the use of unsafe ink and related contaminants is a vital first move. This report from NICNAS is an important step towards us getting this house in order.
Terry Slevin, Adjunct Professor, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University; Education and Research Director, Cancer Council WA; Chair, Occupational and Environmental Cancer Committee, Cancer Council Australia
(Reuters Health) – Many tattoo artists may ink skin with moles or blemishes even though this can make cancer harder to detect, a recent study suggests.
Just 43 percent of tattoo artists surveyed for the study said they had received training on how to handle skin with moles, spots or other skin lesions.
About 55 percent of the tattoo artists said they had declined to ink skin with any of these visible abnormalities, but they were more apt to refuse for aesthetic reasons than out of concern for skin cancer, the study found.
“The tattoo artists’ approach may vary with how large or raised the mole is, but we know that skin cancer can occur even in relatively small and flat lesions, which should not be inked over,” said lead study author Westley Mori, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School.
At least one in five U.S. adults have one or more tattoos, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To avoid complications like infections, people getting tattoos should seek out a shop that sterilizes equipment, ask about where the ink comes from and what ingredients are in it, and make sure the artist wears gloves and opens sterile needles for the job, according to the CDC.
Steering clear of lesions or moles may also make it easier for tattoo customers to avoid missing early signs of skin cancer or melanoma, Mori said by email.
“Even if a lesion looks normal now, that could change over time,” Mori said. “Tattooing over the moles or other skin lesions can make tracking its evolution by a dermatologist difficult.”
While some moles and discolorations or bumps on the skin may be harmless, changes in a mole such as shifts in the symmetry, border, color, size, shape or texture can be warnings that skin cancer or melanoma is developing.
Caught early, melanoma can be cured, but more advanced malignancies can be difficult to treat and are more likely to be fatal.
For the current study, researchers analyzed data from anonymous surveys completed by 42 professional tattoo artists, half of whom had worked in the field for at least eight years.
Only 17 percent of the tattoo artists said they received regular skin exams or mole checks themselves, while about 7 percent had had a skin biopsy and slightly more than 2 percent had a skin cancer diagnosis or knew a close friend or relative with this diagnosis, researchers report in JAMA Dermatology.
Roughly 21 percent said they had had “great” knowledge about melanoma and 14 percent reported “great” knowledge about other skin cancers.
However, just 29 percent of the tattoo artists said they had refused to tattoo skin with a rash, lesion or spot out of concern for skin cancer.
That’s the same proportion of artists who said they had identified a spot on a client that might be skin cancer or recommended that a customer see a dermatologist to have a suspicious area of skin checked out.
Beyond its small size, other limitations of the study include the lack of data on what information tattoo artists actually knew about skin cancer or how well they could identify potentially worrisome things on the skin.
“Tattoo artists definitely are not trained adequately with respect to different skin lesions- not only skin cancers, but also various infections (such as warts) that can spread during the tattoo process,” said Dr. Tina Alster, director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and a researcher at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Before getting a tattoo, customers should have a dermatologist check for moles or other abnormalities, especially if they have a family history of melanoma, Alster, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.
“The public is unaware that tattoo artists hold business licenses, but no safety licenses,” Alster said. “In essence, people getting tattoos are having needles inserted in their skin by practitioners with no medical or safety training.”
By Lisa Rapaport
BOSTON (Reuters) – Former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez’s tattoos may be shown as evidence at his upcoming double-murder trial because they appear to refer to the killings at issue, a Massachusetts judge ruled.
Two of the heavily inked Hernandez’s tattoos depict recently fired guns, one of which prosecutors contend is a reference to the 2012 double murder of two men outside a Boston nightclub, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke said in a ruling dated Monday and released on Tuesday.
Hernandez, 27, who was one of the NFL’s top tight ends while playing for the New England Patriots from 2010 to 2012, already is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for murdering an acquaintance in June 2013.
He is due to face trial next month on charges that he shot and killed two other men, Cape Verde nationals Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado, in May 2012 outside a Boston nightclub after one of them unwittingly spilled a drink on him.
One of his tattoos depicts a six-shot revolver with one empty chamber and the words “God Forgives” written in reverse, so that they can be read with a mirror. Hernandez is charged with firing five shots in the double slaying.
A second tattoo shows a smoking semi-automatic pistol and a spent shell casing. Hernandez is charged with the non-fatal shooting of a former friend in a separate incident that occurred on a trip to Florida.
Locke wrote that Hernandez getting the tattoos “could be viewed as constituting an implied admission.”
It will not be the first time the tattoos have been visible in court. Even when wearing a long-sleeved dress shirt and jacket his tattoos can be seen on his hands and reporters at a 2015 court appearance noticed a new tattoo depicting a star and the word “lifetime” on his neck, high enough to be visible over the collar of a dress shirt.
Hernandez was a rising star in the league with a $41 million contract when he was arrested at his North Attleboro, Massachusetts, home in June 2013 and charged with murdering Odin Lloyd at an industrial park. He has said he is innocent of all charges.
(This version of the story has been filed to correct reference to length of Hernandez’ NFL career in third paragraph)
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)
A New Breakthrough in Technology: Digital Tattoos
It was going to happen sooner or later – the push towards an even more invasive wearable. Today, we have smartphones, smart watches and other smart wearables, but these are already getting pretty old. As we look ahead at what’s next in this genre, we see something straight out of a sci-fi movie – digital tattoos.
What is a Digital Tattoo?
A digital tattoo is a tattoo that allows digital data to be transmitted to and fro. Imagine having a digital tattoo on your hand that allows you to unlock your car or home door. Or, when you shake someone’s hand, information is shared (public info, of course). This is the concept tech companies are rolling with as they streamline their efforts towards the newest tech trend.
How Digital Tattoos May Work
According to NewDealDesign – the design consultants behind Fitbit and other activity trackers – this new technology will be more personable. People will be able to choose where to insert their data chips and tattoo, such as in the wrist, palm or arm. Your tattoo will be unique to you, pretty much like a fingerprint. It will interact with your body’s electro-chemical energy, allowing it to read your blood sugar levels and temperature, among other things.
The data will, of course, be encrypted, so as to protect your personal data. The implant will be used to protect your other belongings, such as credit cards, which can be programmed to only work when it’s in your hand.
This super tattoo would be able to track your movements and contextualize your gestures. It could distinguish between a handshake with a business partner and a hand-hold with a lover or child. The hands are intimate parts of our body, so it makes sense that this type of device would be placed here. Let’s face it – putting it on our foreheads or the back of our neck would feel a little too cyborgish.
The Probability of this Coming to Life
NewDealDesign has already talked to various entrepreneurs who are looking into Underskin devices, so it’s a very real concept that can come true as soon as the next five years. The technology is already there, it just needs to be created. What would be the hardest part of the project would be the flexible display. The communication, implantation, siphoning of your body’s energy and sensor would be the easy parts. That goes to show how close we likely are to integrating this into our everyday lives very soon.
Are You Ready?
The great thing about the digital tattoo concept is that it does a great job of fitting right into our lifestyle. This will make it more acceptable to the general public, especially if it can convince us that our data will be secured from hackers.
For decades, women all over the world have been getting tattoos and experimenting with different designs. Women from certain countries can get tattooed, but they can’t show them in public. For example, in the United States, if a woman wants to join the Marines, she must follow their tattoo policy. There are also feminist tattoos in the Middle East causing an uproar.
Feminism is Considered Negative
The reason feminist tattoos in the Middle East are causing an uproar is because feminism is regarded as a negative notion. Therefore, when women publicly display a tattoo featuring their support of feminism, the Islam Republic frowns upon this decision. While it isn’t uncommon for men to have tattoos in the Middle East, many of the designs are considered part of today’s modern Westernization of the Islamic country.
Why is it Controversial?
The controversy stems from some of the feminist tattoos supporting women’s rights that are against the law in the Middle East. For example, if the feminist tattoos are in support of abortion, which is against the law, then that would be a controversial ink design in the Middle East. Other controversial feminist tattoos include the Venus symbol, quotes depicting a woman’s power, braille spelling out the words, “I am enough,” powerful words, symbols depicting equality, and pictures of powerful women.
Will Women Stop?
Now that women know that feminist tattoos in the Middle East are causing an uproar, will they stop getting them? The short answer is likely no. The long answer is that many women in the Middle East, even if they’re feminists, still view tattoos as taboo and if they get one they’ll likely keep it hidden. If they don’t keep it hidden from sight, they may consider designing it in such a way that it’s not obviously a feminist tattoo. That way, they’re not drawing as much attention to themselves.
Are there Repercussions?
So far, the feminist tattoos that have come into question have made the press—but that’s all. They’re creating a controversy, but the issue hasn’t resulted in anything more than widespread upset. Does this mean that it’s okay for Middle Eastern women to run out and get feminist tattoos tomorrow? Not necessarily. If she does, there’s still the chance of facing public shaming.
Last year, a New York tattoo artist by the name of Scott Campbell put a spin on inking up his guests. Rather than working on their choices, they put their arms through a hole in the wall, and their tattoo was a complete surprise to them during an art installation event. Typically a tattoo artist to the stars, people showed up in droves for their tattoos when this artist announced when he was offering these surprise tattoos. This event begs the question, of course, if the tattoo parlour in your area offered them, would you get a surprise tattoo?
What Are the Benefits to a Surprise Tattoo?
For one thing, you have to have complete trust in your tattoo artist. This opportunity is the perfect opportunity to overcome your fear of trusting people, as well as getting tattooed. For those who are indecisive about what kind of tattoo they should get, deciding if you would get a surprise tattoo is the only thing you have to worry about—the tattoo artist will take care of everything else. All you need to do is sit back and get your ink. The only catch with receiving a surprise tattoo is you can’t give any input.
What Are the Cons to a Surprise Tattoo?
Of course, you may dislike the tattoo the artist chose for you. However, if you’re working with an acclaimed tattoo artist, the chances of that happening are slim. Take Scott Campbell’s event, for example. Everyone who agreed to an interview discussed how the process took about one hour, their tattoo was on their forearm, and they loved the outcome—some even said the experience was life-changing. Everyone walked into the experience knowing they couldn’t provide input and where the tattoo would be placed on their body. Your tattoo artist should be providing the same information to you.
Give it Serious Thought
Because a tattoo is a permanent part of your body, you have to give the question, “Would you get a surprise tattoo?” serious thought. It isn’t something you should ever walk into blindly or do as a dare. Remember that tattoo removal is costly and painful so, if you do decide to participate in this experience, you will be living with the decision for the rest of your life.
Image: Thomas Hawk
This article will talk about how Tattoo Recognition Technology can impact your freedoms and rights.
Tattoos have always been used to identify people, including suspects of crimes. A tattoo really is a distinguishing feature on a body and while you probably aren’t the only person out there with Pearl Jam’s stickman, a tattoo can definitely narrow you down in a pool of people. Now, this shouldn’t really matter to you if you aren’t committing crimes, but you should be aware of a new technology being used by law enforcement called Tattoo Recognition Technology.
How does it work?
Tattoo Recognition Technology started from a joint forces task force in the U.S., where they performed experiments to detect algorithms in the tattooed population. Five different tests were performed and include:
- Tattoo detection – declaring if an image has a tattoo in it
- Tattoo identification – using a tattoo to identify who a person is (much like a fingerprint)
- Region of interest – figuring out if a piece of a tattoo can be attributed to a larger tattoo
- Mixed media – doing a sketch of a tattoo as described by a witness
- Tattoo similarity – matching tattoos to a population of people with similar beliefs
As a law-abiding citizen, you may think that tattoo recognition technology can be highly valuable to law enforcement. It will be easier to identify suspects even if just a part of a tattoo is showing during the performance of a crime or on a surveillance video. Criminals including rapists, robbers, child molesters and more could be identified much easier based on the description of a tattoo.
Consequences of the technology
But, there are some downfalls for even those of us who aren’t criminals with this new technology. The tattoo similarity feature of this technology essentially lumps groups of people with similar tattoos into one broad category. This could also be seen as stereotyping, typecasting or profiling and that can be dangerous. Certain groups, including religious groups could be typecast based on their membership into that group. As well, a tattoo may have meaning for one group, but not for another, even with the exact symbol. For example, it was discovered that pedophiles share various symbols, which can be just regular symbols like hearts and butterflies. Law enforcement may be led to believe that someone who unknowingly has one of these symbols tattooed on their bodies is a child molester.
Others believe that this technology threatens free speech and privacy. Because the technology reveals a person’s cultural, religious and political beliefs, people who may not have committed a crime may have their privacy rights offended. Opponents believe that law enforcement could use this technology to single out individuals based on their beliefs and create a religious, political or cultural profile based on the tattoo.
At the moment, this technology is under evaluation and improvements still need to be made to ensure complete accuracy.