American Academy of Pediatrics announces its first recommendations on tattoos, piercings

September 18, 2017

Tattoos and body piercings are an increasingly popular form of self-expression, but it is important for young people to carefully consider the consequences and potential risks associated with body modifications, according to the first clinical report on the topic published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The AAP recommendations, "Adolescent and Young Adult Tattooing, Piercing and Scarification," will be published in the October 2017 issue of Pediatrics (available online Sept. 18), providing an overview of the types and methods used to perform body modifications. The clinical report details possible medical complications, which, while uncommon, should be discussed with a pediatrician.

Lead author Cora C. Breuner, MD, Chair of the AAP Committee on Adolescence, will present the recommendations during a news conference Sept. 18 at the 2017 AAP National Conference and Exhibition at McCormick Place in Chicago.

"Tattooing is much more accepted than it was 15 to 20 years ago," Dr. Breuner said. "In many states, teens have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo, but the regulations vary from place to place. When counseling teens, I tell them to do some research, and to think hard about why they want a tattoo, and where on their body they want it."

The AAP report highlights include: The AAP offers guidance for pediatricians on how to distinguish typical body modification from more dramatic or intense efforts to harm oneself, called nonsuicidal self injury syndrome. The syndrome, which includes cutting, scratching or burning oneself, is a more impulsive or compulsive action that is associated with mental health disorders. "In most cases, teens just enjoy the look of the tattoo or piercing, but we do advise them to talk any decision over with their parents or another adult first," said David Levine, MD, co-author of the report. "They may not realize how expensive it is to remove a tattoo, or how a piercing on your tongue might result in a chipped tooth."

Laser removal of tattoos can range from $49 to $300 per square inch of treatment area, according to the report.

"Reputable tattoo parlors and piercing salons should provide a long list of do's and don'ts on how to care for the area that was worked on, and what signs might indicate a problem," Dr. Breuner said.

"These services have come a long way, safety-wise, but it's best to proceed with caution."
-end-
AAP offers additional resources for parents on its website, HealthyChildren.org. Media outlets and bloggers are welcome to use the content or link to the reports with proper attribution.

- For information on talking about tattoos with teenagers, go to https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Tattoos.aspx

- For information on body piercings, teens and potential health risks, go to: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/body-piercings.aspx

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit http://www.aap.org.

American Academy of Pediatrics
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.