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Family 411: Teens and tattoos

New study weighs in on teens and tattoos (WSYX)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKRC) - More teenagers are thinking about getting tattoos and piercings as a form of self-expression. A new American Academy of Pediatrics study says there's much to consider

Leah Wicks, 17, is getting a tattoo after talking it over with her mom and dad.

The Wicks family did their research to find a clean and reputable salon. "I disinfect all the hard surfaces with a product that kills MRSA, hepatitis, HIV in about sixty seconds."

A recent Pew Center study says about 38 percent of young people between ages 18 and 29 have a least one tattoo.

Parents like Stefanie Wicks have to ask, "Is this something they are going to be able to have the maturity to care for"?

Leah took at least six months to come up with a design. She loves geometric tattoos. And Leah wants to remember her best friend, Gabby the cat. "My cat is a very very loving cat."

Leah holds on to the hand of a friend for support during the procedure, which she says feels like a million bee stings. "But as soon as the needle is off the skin it doesn't hurt anymore. It feels more like a sunburn," says Tattoo artist Katrina Polacek.

Polacek advises parents to talk with teens about their goals for the future. "Make sure they get it in spaces where in five years when they graduate college or they have actually decided on a career they will be able to cover it if necessary."

Leah has taken those things into consideration. "Really consider what you are getting. What it means to you . And remember it is going to be forever."

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the rate of tattoo complications is low, but a real possibility. "If their friends do it in their basement they run a lot of risk of contracting hepatitis or MRSA or anything like that when their friends are doing it," says Polacek.

The salon should be regulated by the state and provide clients with information on how to care for the area afterward. "My job here is done. And it is now up to her to make sure that the tattoo heals up perfectly."

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it's a good idea for families to check with their family doctor before getting a tattoo. It's especially important for those who are diabetic or have medical conditions that give them a higher risk for infection.

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