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Women Having Tattoos Removed More Often Than Men

Peter M Crosta -- According to a new study published in the July issue of Archives of Dermatology, more women than men are coming to dermatology clinics to have their tattoos removed.

Removals are often driven by a desire to avoid the social stigma associated with tattoos, and many seek removal due to negative comments made by other.

A recent survey has found that 25% of adults age 18 to 30 have at least one tattoo. "While the vast majority of individuals who are tattooed are pleased with their skin markings (up to 83 percent), the popularity and prevalence of tattoos often mean that dermatologists are increasingly hearing stories of regrets and requests for tattoo removal," write the authors of this study. Researchers estimate that although 20% of tattooed individuals are not satisfied with their inked body markings, only about 6% actually choose removal.

Investigating the process of tattoo removal, Myrna L. Armstrong, Ed.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. (Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas) and colleagues surveyed 196 individuals who, in 2006, came to one of four dermatology clinics in the United States with the intention of having a tattoo removal procedure. The sample consisted of 66 men and 130 women who were about 30 years old, on average. The participants were asked to answer 127 questions designed to collect demographic information and data on the reasons and motivations for both acquiring and removing their tattoo. The researchers also compared the responses of this sample with answers to a similar survey conducted ten years earlier.

Armstrong and colleagues write that, "In both the 1996 and the 2006 studies, a shift in identity occurred, and removal centered around dissociating from the past." The 2006 survey participants mentioned several reasons for getting a tattoo:

-- 44% to feel unique
-- 33% to feel independent
-- 28% to make life experience stand out.

They also indicated several reasons for having the tattoo removed:

-- 58% just decided to remove it
-- 57% suffered embarrassment
-- 38% believed it lowered their body image
-- 38% were getting a new job or career
-- 37% had problems with clothes
-- 25% experienced stigma
-- 21% marked an occasion (birthday, marriage, or newly found independence)

Participants in the 2006 survey were overwhelmingly more likely to be women -- 69% women to 31% men -- who were white, single, and college-educated. The women described themselves as risk takers, but with stable families and moderate to strong religious views.

Women reported that one to five years after getting their tattoo, their feelings began to change even though they were satisfied with their tattoo originally. "While men also reported some of these same tattoo problems leading to removal, there seemed to be more societal fallout for women with tattoos, as the tattoos began to cause embarrassment, negative comments and clothes problems and no longer satisfied the need for uniqueness," write the authors.

"Societal support for women with tattoos may not be as strong as for men," conclude the authors. "Rather than having visible tattoos, women may still want to choose self-controlled body site placement, even in our contemporary society."

Motivation for Contemporary Tattoo Removal: A Shift in Identity
Myrna L. Armstrong; Alden E. Roberts; Jerome R. Koch; Jana C. Saunders; Donna C. Owen; R. Rox Anderson Archives of Dermatology (2008). 144[7]: pp. 879 - 884.
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Source: Medical News Today

© 2009 Medical News Today

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