The most frequently asked question in a tattoo parlor is "Is it Safe?" The Answer - "YES".
Professional Tattoo Artists take pride in not only their work, but also the safety of their customers and their own personal safety.
All tattoo parlors have to be Board of Health Licensed. The department of Health takes a great part in the safety of tattooing, but the rules may vary a bit depending on the state and county. My studios are in Suffolk county -- where you must take a class, given by the Health Department and follow up with a written test. The test includes sterilization procedures, Blood Borne Pathogens, Universal Precautions and how to keep tattooing completely safe. If you pass the test, you are then licensed by the Board of Health and are allowed to work in Suffolk County. If you fail you are NOT allowed to work. The Health Department also does spot checks at any given time to all studios. If something is not right you can lose your license, and be put out of work, therefore there is much pressure to be sure your tattoo artist is following proper procedures.
The most important thing is to go to a very reputable shop, and do NOT get tattooed by a person who is NOT a licensed Professional, such as someone working out of his or her house or at a party. The Board of Health also states it is illegal for someone to do work in such conditions, and they are not licensed to do so.
Do you change the needle for every tattoo?
Everything is for single use. The main thing involved in a tattoo is the needle, which is used once and only once. As you will see when you get to the point of actually sitting in the chair, the artist will then show you the brand new needle in its brand new blister packed vacuum sealed packaging, with indicators on sterilization. The indicator will show you that the needle is also sterile. Then at the end of the tattoo you will see that the needle is disposed of into a sharps container.
What about the tube that the needle rides in?
The tubes are cleaned after use, in an Ultrasonic Cleaner, and then put into a sterilization pouch and sterilized in an autoclave. This is the same procedure used by dentist and doctors for their tools. You will see the tube come out of the pouch right in front of you. The pouch has an indicator on it, which proves that item has been run through a cycle of steam sterilization.
What about the Colors?
The colors are also made for single service. How does that work? The inks are poured into a small cap. This cap is used only for your tattoo and then disposed of after the tattoo is finished. Once again as soon as you sit in the tattoo chair you will then see the artist pour the ink into a fresh new cap, and at the end of the tattoo you will see the artist dispose of it.
What are Universal Precautions?
The artists use Universal Precautions, which is the practice of treating every patient the same, acting as if everyone is contaminated. Gloves are worn, and counters, sinks and everything in the area are wiped down with Germicidal surface disinfectants.
Now you will know what to look for when approaching a tattoo artist. I can't stress enough, the importance of going to a reputable licensed studio, where all the artists are also licensed. YES it may cost a little more to get tattooed in a reputable studio the right way, but your Health Safety far outweighs the monetary difference of a few extra dollars.
"The Sweetness of a great tattoo lasts far longer then the bitterness of a bad tattoo."