Help me understand tattoos

I was reading a book called Tokyo Vice written by my friend Jake Adelstein.  At the core of this story is a member of the Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza, who needs to go to America for a liver transplant.  It turns out liver issues are common among the Yakuza, because they get so many tattoos.

That little bit of information was a shock.  Tattoos are all the rage.  They look painful, but could they really be harmful to the body?  So many fitness freaks get tattoos.  It seems all the rage.  So I started looking into it.

The tattoos suffocate the skin.  It turns out our skin is an extremely important organ that we need to at the very least, breathe.  Every time we get a tattoo we are destroying an area of our body/skin.  That area will never be able to breathe again.  The more tattoos we get the more stress we are putting on the our body making the remaining breathable skin work harder.

On top of that there are a ton of other issues surrounding tattoos.  So why do so many get them when they are clearly bad for us, like smoking?  It’s human nature.  Especially for someone who is younger.  People want to express themselves and this is a great way to do it.  Will I get a tattoo?  Probably not.  For a far less dangerous reason that bad health.  I just dislike needles.


I would love counter arguments for tattoos.  So many of my friends have them, that I would like to hear some of the positive health benefits they provide.  Also, my research is far from perfect.  Poke holes in it.  Maybe tattoos are not the next cigarette. Maybe they are harmless permanent body decorations?


2 thoughts on “Help me understand tattoos”

  1. I’m not sure comparing it to smoking is fair. Smoking can do a lot more damage than tattoos can. And if we look at it, doing anything with our bodies is bad for it. Blow drying our hair is bad for it, dying it is bad for it, certain soaps are bad for skin, a lot of things we eat are bad for us whether its in moderation or not. When it comes down to it, this is our only life and we should do whatever we want with it. Tattoos definitely aren’t for everyone, and the majority of people that get them sit on the idea for a long time. I thought about my first tattoo for over 2 years before I finally got it, and every one since then I’ve thought about between 6 months to 3 years.
    And after doing a bit of research, it looks like the risks really just come from the process itself (is the artist clean and sanitary in their process?), rare allergic reactions, and maybe messing with the clarity of MRI imaging if you every need one.
    The thing about the Yakuza is probably because their tattoos didn’t come from sanitary equipment which lead to infections and then liver damage.

    Liked by 1 person

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