Ten Things You Needed to Know Before Getting That Tattoo

A tribute to his parents


Thaddeus C. Hinunangan, M.D.

Out on Pass is a borrowed term used in hospitals, where a patient is temporarily sent home for a respite, with promise to return for definitive treatment. Dr. Thaddeus C. Hinunangan is a physician by profession, and a writer by heart. His work was published in several anthologies and he also contributes to Philippine Daily Inquirer Opinion column.

For comments: thadhinunangan@gmail.com

For centuries tattooing have been part of many cultures. In the Visayas, natives had tattoos which were testament to their success in battle. The more tattoos one had, the braver the warrior, sometimes covering the entire body like paint, hence the Spanish called them “Pintados.”

Nowadays tattooing is more of a form of self-expression, and people get it for their own personal reasons. When we lost our parents, I had a tattoo of an angel with folded wings, with the initials of my parents etched on a book the angel was holding. It was such a personal design, and I even drew it myself. Some would like minimalist tattoos like the name of their loved ones or their faces, some would get elaborate tattoo sleeves that depict beautiful scenes with astonishing details like a painting.

Tattoos may sometimes fade over time

Getting inked is a rite of passage, and sometimes it can be a daunting task. Here are some things you need to consider before getting one.

1. Does it hurt?

Yes! Of course, it hurts, it’s a needle. It also depends on where it is, usually it is less painful in fleshy areas like the deltoids, and most painful in the rib area. The type of needle used also varies depending on the style of the tattoo. Needles used for shading (in 3D tattoos) consists for 3-4 needles all piercing the skin at the same time. Ouch!

2. Is it expensive?

Yes. Before you get a tattoo, check out the credentials and the work of your artist. He should be a licensed tattoo artist with a relatively voluminous portfolio. Remember, what you put on your skin is permanent, so don’t skimp on money for an inferior looking tattoo.

3. Can I be impulsive?

No. Don’t get tattoos when you are drunk or emotional or just at the spur of the moment. Chances are, you will regret it. You may profess your love for your boyfriend now, but somewhere along the line you might end up breaking up and wanting to scratch his name off your ankle. Before getting a tattoo, spend time browsing for a design or maybe have an artist sketch it for you. Put it in front of a mirror for a month, if you still want to do it after a month, then you most likely will not regret it.

In general, placements that can be hidden by clothing is a good idea

4. Where should I place it?

As a rule, I personally place tattoos on areas that can be hidden by clothing. Tattoos on the face, neck, arms, and fingers can be very difficult to pull off and maybe prohibited in some professions. You have every freedom to put your tattoo where you want it, just make sure it doesn’t jeopardize opportunities for yourself.

5. Can one tattoo that looks good on someone look good on me?

Maybe. As I said, having a tattoo is a personal thing. Your complexion, size, texture could be factor which affect the overall effect of the tattoo. Don’t get one just because Angelina Jolie has it. Make sure the tattoo design you chose suits you.


6. Does a tattoo make me look dirty or bad?


Only archaic and moronic people still assume that having tattoos instantly make one a bad person. Enough said.

7. Is the equipment sterile?

This is a question you must ask the tattoo artist, and if they are legit, it should be. Check the needles, they should be in a sterile package. They should use fresh needles every time.

8. What is tattoo aftercare?

Most artists will tell you how to take care of your tattoo. After the procedure, they will most likely put an antibacterial ointment and wrap your tattoo. You may use gentle soap and wash the area daily and apply ointment. After a few days, the tattoo will start to peel. This is normal. Make sure to watch out for infections (especially for large tattoos), they should heal in a couple of days.

9. Do tattoos fade?

Yes. Tattoo pigments are deposited in the dermis. Over time, and especially when they are frequently exposed to sunlight, tattoos tend to fade. Some artists may offer to reapply pigment or retouch your old tattoo.

10. I hate my tattoo. Can I get it removed?

Yes. The best method is laser removal. Usually this breaks up the tattoo ink to very minute fragment so that your own body’s macrophages can clear the ink. This usually costs tens of thousands of pesos and takes 3-4 sessions before they fade away.

The author’s tattoos

Like anything good in life, take some time to really think about it, communicate your design idea to your artist before you have it etched on your skin.

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