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Elaborate tattoos adorning the backs, chests, arms and even faces and necks of Aussies could be hiding melanomas or increasing skin cancer risks.

Many people don’t realise that a tattoo can cover up a skin cancer so that it is undetected for years.

With two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, this is a huge risk for people with large tattoos.

While people still want to have the small lower back, ankle and hip tattoos removed with more and more people want to have large body and sleeve tattoos removed as well.

Often they want to do something new on top.

Another trend that has emerged is the blackout tattoo – this method uses black ink to ‘colour in’ the unwanted tattoo completely.

This is the worst kind for hiding a skin cancer.

The trauma of laser tattoo removal is very different to the tattoo process and it can also aggravate a pre-existing tendency to malignant lesions.

If you’re thinking about getting some body art there are some safety factors worth considering before you get the tattoo in relation to skin cancer.

  • Tattoos placed over large body areas: are very likely to include skin conditions such as freckles and moles – tattooing over moles should avoided.
  • Moles covered by tattoos: may increase the risk of skin changes.
  • Regular skin checks: moles become difficult to check when they are covered by ink – best to not cover them, check before tattooing.
  • Traumatic events, such as UV exposure, X-rays, mechanical trauma, persistent inflammation, and sun burns over time may cause malignant changes.
  • Be skin safe: have skin checks every year whether you have a tattoo or not.

The laser tattoo removal is also considered to be a traumatic event within the skin and therefore should not be performed over moles.

It is recommended that anyone wanting to undergo laser tattoo removal should have moles in the treatment area excised prior to laser tattoo removal treatments.

Myles Josh, well respected tattoo artist from Unify Private Study in Bathurst recently noticed a lesion on his arm which was changing.

After having a biopsy it was diagnosed as a BCC and was removed. The lesion was found within a tattoo but had NOT been covered by the tattoo.

Myles Josh said he does not cover moles when tattooing his clients and makes them aware of the importance of checking their skin as well. Myles feels he has an obligation as a professional in his industry to alert his clients to any suspicious lesions he may see whilst consulting with his clients and refer them to a GP for further examination prior to tattooing.

Ilse Taumberger who provides specialised training to Beauty and Laser therapists says that anyone can buy a tattoo removal laser online and start removing tattoos without having the underpinning knowledge of skin and how to safely perform these treatments.

She advises that clients should have their tattoo removal treatments performed by a qualified and experienced Laser Therapist who is trained in laser safety and laser tattoo removal.

To learn more about how to become qualified as a Laser Therapist or to enrol into one of our many laser courses contact Sydney Beauty & Dermal Institute 02 9326 2211  or email recruitment@sbdi.com.au for more information.

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