September 18, 2007, - 9:35 am

More Tats Trouble: Tramp Stamps Are Mark of Harm for Expectant Moms

By Debbie Schlussel
I’ve over the years. And while I know quite a few of my readers have them (I guess they are the exceptions to my generalizations), you still gotta wonder about why anyone would put permanent marks on themselves. I’m glad my religion forbids me from getting one.
In my view, they’re more forgivable on men. But, , a woman who doesn’t take long to agree to repeatedly put a needle in her body, generally doesn’t take long before she acquiesces to putting other things into her body. In other words, she’s easy.
Now, there are more serious implications for those women with the “tramp stamp” marking their lower backs. Once they get pregnant, there is serious harm potential to themselves and their unborn child.

Easy and Now At Risk to Her Baby

Wall Street Journal health columnist Rachel Zimmerman reports:

Pregnant women already have plenty to worry about. But now some doctors are pointing to another potential problem: tattoos.
The issue is whether it’s safe to stick a needle through a tattoo in the lower back for an epidural — an injection of painkilling medicine that can ease the discomfort of labor.
There has been an explosion in recent years in women’s lower-back tattoos — often ornate designs that take up a lot of surface area near the vertebrae where epidural needles are typically inserted.
In 2002, a pair of Canadian anesthesiologists published a report that questioned whether administering an epidural through such a tattoo could be risky. The doctors speculated that complications like inflammation or nerve damage may arise if the needle pulled a bit of dyed skin along with it, and then deposited it into the nerve-rich region outside the spinal column. . . .
A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that nearly one-quarter of Americans ages 18 to 50 are tattooed. [DS Translation: Dermatologists and plastic surgeons practicing laser removal will have an even more booming biz in a few years.] Among them, nearly 20% of the women have tattoos on their lower back, researchers reported. [DS Translation: At least 20% of American women are saying, “We’ll be seeing each other come bar time.”]
The national epidural rate is nearly 65% of the four million births a year in the U.S. . . .
The Food and Drug Administration says tattoo inks and pigments fall into categories that the agency regulates, but due to other health priorities, the agency hasn’t specifically approved any inks. Two FDA-backed studies are under way to evaluate possible adverse reactions to the ink, and ways to test it for toxicity.
Krzysztof Kuczkowski, chief of obstetric anesthesia at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, published an account in 2004 of a 34-year-old patient with tattoos covering her mid-lumbar area who received an epidural. Afterward she experienced unusual burning, tenderness and swelling where the epidural catheter had been placed. Dr. Kuczkowski believes the tattoo was the culprit. “It’s possible there’s a release of small particles that could contain metals or toxic compounds,” he says.
Anesthesiologist Mark Kostash, clinical professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta, says, “Nerves are so delicate and can be injured so easily, we want to minimize the risk that anything we do might cause damage.” He adds: “If it was me, and I had a tattoo, I’d say, ‘Go around it.’ ”
Anesthesiologists should try to avoid the tattoo. Or they can create a nick in the skin before the needle is stuck in, minimizing the chance of some skin getting pulled down with the injection. Finally, Dr. Douglas says, women should be told that while there is no proof complications will arise, there remains a potential risk.

Or better than going around the tattoo, here’s another suggestion for women who want to have a baby:
Don’t get a tattoo.

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53 Responses

I do not have a tattoo but as an artist with a BFA (3.8 GPA, graduated with high honors), nine piercings, and plenty of tattooed friends, I must say I am absolutely appalled at the level of rash judgement being thrown around on this page. For one, I have a friend who has a lower back tattoo (I REFUSE to call them tramp stamps), and she is one of the most successful, kind, intelligent, and all around fantastic women I have ever met. She has an MFA, runs her own (very lucrative) business, and started a program in her medium at the art school that granted my BFA, where she has taught for the last decade. In that time her program has grown from a few dental students to one of the most popular art courses on campus. Everyone I talk to agrees she is a spectacular teacher and a wonderful support to every student. She is certainly one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and without her I doubt I’d have the confidence and drive to pursue my dreams–something I have gained under her tutelage.

And she is just one example. I cannot believe, especially with the statistics cited on this page on how many women have tattoos, you are all lumping them together under one (horrifically sexist) label of “SLUT.” Getting tattoos is not about being easy, disrespecting one’s body, being unintelligent, or lacking self-respect. They are a means of expression, and each tattooed individual has her own very personal reasons for getting tattoos, ranging from celebrating a milestone (such as having a baby) to commemorating a lost relative (I have a friend with pink bows on her ankles because her mother died young of breast cancer). Whether or not you think these are good ways of doing so is your choice. If you don’t like them, don’t get them. But please, please, PLEASE stop using such harsh judgements on such a large segment of the population because you personally don’t like them. It not only sounds cruel and ignorant, it discounts your opinions and pushes away readers who may otherwise have very intelligent things to contribute.

Have a nice day,


P.S. I find the assertion that tattoos are more acceptable in men than women appallingly sexist.

Sarah on June 20, 2014 at 11:50 am

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