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Gross out? (You Can Do It).

Patriotism is the latest fashion rage, and this 27-year, old Floridian has tattooed his forehead to make sure it never goes out of style. Ouch! "The pain would be phenomenally intense" says Tami Jo Urban, a Michigan-based tattoo artist.

"It's not like getting an injection," Urban says. A tattoo needle, unlike a syringe, is solid. It's first dipped in suspension (mixture of colored pigment and liquid). Then an electric tattoo gun drives the needle into the skin 50 to 3,000 times per minute. Each puncture deposits colored ink into the dermis (skin's middle layer containing blood vessels, hair, and nerve cells). "It's most painful near the bone [like this man's skull] because the machine vibrates the bone" says Urban.

To make skin art permanent, Urban goes about 2 mm (0.08 in.) below the epidermis (top skin layer), which sheds its dead skin cells along with any colored pigments. But if the needle goes any deeper, fat and muscle beneath the dermis can be pierced, causing excessive bleeding and scars--signs of being gouged by a scratcher--an inept tattoo artist.

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Title Annotation:tattoos
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 21, 2002
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