Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2003 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | According to an article in The Washington Times, the College of Medicine at Ohio's Wright State University is signing up volunteers for a tattoo removal study it will be conducting. They're looking for people aged 18 to 75 with at least two tattoos to be removed. The school placed an ad in a newspaper and the response was great - more than 100 people called. Dr. Gary Palmer, a dermatologist on the study, said the response shows that "a lot of people would like to get rid of theirs (tattoos)." Yeah, I guess - and it's no wonder.
Getting a tattoo isn't cheap, but for the vast majority of trend-following sheep with disposable income it's affordable. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $100 or more per tattoo, depending on how involved the design is and the time it takes to get it applied. Getting a tattoo removed, however, is expensive - requiring five, six, or even ten laser treatments costing $75 to $500 for each treatment.
Many who get tattooed do so on a whim. The problem with impulsive behavior is as fast as you do something; you very often want to undo it just as quickly. Before too long the tattooed person might just change their mind about wanting a monarch butterfly on their ass for the rest of their life.
Oops - it doesn't wash off. Some want tattoos because it seems the "in" thing to do. They see their favorite movie and rock stars wearing them, and they want to look just as "cool." Unfortunately for anyone who follows trends, what is cool today can be ice cold tomorrow. Oops again. Taking into consideration the I've-changed-my-mind factor along with the high cost of laser removal, it's understandable that plenty of people want to sign on as volunteers for the university's study. Not only can you take the thing off - it's free, too!
The university research teams will be studying how much the removal can be enhanced by application of a cream called Aldara (the genetic name is imiquimod) that's used for other purposes, such as warts. Doctors will use laser removal on one tattoo and laser removal with cream on a second tattoo on each patient. They will be conducting careful microscopic experiments, possibly including biopsies, to study what takes place and how soon it happens.
Associate professor, Dr. Julian Trevino, who heads the project, said that a study on guinea pigs suggested the Aldara cream enhances the process of tattoo removal. Gee, I wonder what kind of tattoos guinea pigs get "Born to Test" or "Lab Rats Rule"? Can you imagine tattooing guinea pigs? What's next - little guinea pig tongue studs? Spiked purple fur and black nail polish on their claws? Just what the world needs Goth guinea pigs.
The idea of a laser "burning" away a tattoo is a misconception, Dr. Palmer stated. The laser has an acoustical effect, breaking up some particles. People can also get a combination of heat and acoustical vibration, he said. The project may tell if using the cream would remove the tattoo in fewer treatments.
Dr. Trevino went on to say, "I would not get a tattoo myself. They can lead to various infections, including hepatitis, which is very scary. And the large multicolor tattoos are still going to be difficult to remove, even with lasers and creams."
Although the doctors have high expectations for the research, they cautioned that the FDA has not approved use of the wart cream for tattoo removal.
Participants will be required to sign a consent form. "It stimulates the body's immune system," explained Dr. Palmer. "It may make a tattoo more amenable to laser removal," Dr. Trevino said. "It breaks up little pigment granules and allows them to disperse."
Just think of all the research time, scientific talent, and expense going into studies to find new and improved ways of taking off a tattoo a stupid thing that never should have been put on to begin with.
Maybe a person dumb enough to have him or herself branded with inks and needles should be required to keep that brand on them forever.
As far as the university is concerned, instead of signing up volunteers in a study for tattoo removal, perhaps society might be better served and research dollars better spent if they conducted a study for lamebrain removal.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.