Many teenagers can't wait for the day when they turn 18 so they can go down to the local tattoo parlor and get a tattoo. For some people, tattoos can be an effective and safe means of self-expression. However, before you pick out a design and hand over your money to the nearest tattoo artist, there are a few things you should consider:

PICK A DESIGN YOU CAN LIVE WITH

Remember, as much as you like dragons or AC/DC today you may not feel the same way thirty years from now. Think long and hard about what you are putting on your body, because it is semi-permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but removal is expensive and often leaves scars. A good decision now will save you stress and money later.

WHERE TO PUT THE TATOO?

Many people think a tattoo is okay, but a potential employer may not be impressed by a tattoo on your face or forearm. In general, it is a good idea to get a tattoo that you can cover with a moderate amount of clothing.

BE AWARE OF THE HEALTH RISKS

Though some people do have allergic reactions, a tattoo is relatively safe if applied under sterile conditions. However, if you go to an unclean or disreputable parlor, you risk hepatitis B and HIV infection. The establishment may appear somewhat clean, but you should ask questions anyway. Tell the tattoo artist you would like to see the needles opened in front of you. If he refuses, then he has something to hide. Under NO circumstances should you get a tattoo from someone who won't answer your questions. If you have questions they can't answer, perhaps this artist is not the one to give you the tattoo.

TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE WAY YOUR BODY WILL CHANGE OVER THE YEARS

You may gain or lose weight, experience pregnancy or another body altering experience later in life. Because of this, some designs may be unrecognizable in twenty years. This depends not only on the design, but on the location as well.

Whatever you decide, make sure to carefully consider all consequences before you get a tattoo as it is a decision that will stick with you for life.

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