The Demographics and Rates of Tattoo Complications, Regret, and Unsafe Tattooing Practices: A Cross-Sectional Study

Dermatol Surg. 2015 Nov;41(11):1283-9. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000500.


Background: Tattoos have become increasingly common in the United States; however, there are limited data on the rates of tattoo complications and tattoo regret.

Objective: To determine the rates of infectious and allergic complications after tattooing, rates of tattoo regret, the perception of dermatologists among people with tattoos, and the demographics of people with tattoos.

Materials and methods: An 18-question cross-sectional survey was fielded in New Orleans in January 2015. Participants had to be at least 18 years old, have at least 1 tattoo, and reside within the United States.

Results: In total, 501 participants from 38 American states were enrolled. Of all participants, 3.2% had a history of an infected tattoo, 3.8% had a history of a painful tattoo, and 21.2% had a history of a pruritic tattoo; 16.2% of participants regret a current tattoo and 21.2% are interested in having 1 or more tattoos removed; 21.2% received a tattoo while intoxicated and 17.6% had a tattoo placed somewhere other than at a tattoo parlor; and 78.9% believe dermatologists are knowledgeable about the infectious and allergic complications of tattoos.

Conclusion: Given the rates of pruritic tattoos and tattoo regret, there is an opportunity, and trust among people with tattoos, for dermatologists to manage these complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications
  • Attitude*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Orleans
  • Pain / etiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tattooing / adverse effects*
  • Tattooing / psychology*
  • Tattooing / standards
  • Young Adult