A significant number of people regret having a tattoo, and the longer they have had one the more likely this becomes.  With a tattoo parlour popping up on every high street1 and the popularity of tattoos increasing2, a study, due to be released at the British Association of Dermatologists’ Annual Conference in Birmingham this week (July 3rd to 5th), seems timely.

Author of the study Arif Aslam says, “We feel that it is important for people to know that it’s very likely that one day they will regret their tattoo.  They are not that easy to remove and unwanted tattoos can affect people’s life chances and cause them upset and unhappiness”.

The study used a questionnaire and took place over a six month period in a dermatology department in a large district general hospital in England.  Patients (aged 16 or over) who had a visible tattoo during general skin examination were asked to complete the questionnaire which looked at age, the age at which the tattoo was acquired, whether it was done by an amateur or a professional, how long they had had it, whether they had other tattoos, the site of the tattoo, whether they still liked it and whether they would have it removed if they could.

  • 580 responses were analysed (from a total sample of 615) with a split of 53 per cent men and 47 per cent women.  The responses revealed:
  • Most tattoos were done by a professional
  • Half of the patients were over 40
  • 45% of the patients had their first tattoo done aged between 18 and 25 years old
  • Almost half had between two and five tattoos
  • Almost one third regretted their tattoo
  • Men were more likely to regret their tattoo than women
  • Men were three times more likely to regret their tattoo if it was done when they were under 16 years of age
  • Women over the age of 21 at the time of their first tattoo were the least likely to regret it.
  • Most patients who regretted getting a tattoo had them on their upper body.
  • Fewer than half those who regretted their tattoos would have them removed.

Written and supplied by the British Association of Dermatologists



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