April 12, 2004
- Body piercing and tattoos make way. The latest fashion trend to
hit the Netherlands is eyeball jewelry. Dutch eye surgeons have
implanted tiny pieces of jewelry called 'JewelEye' in the mucous
membrane of the eyes of six women and one man in cosmetic surgery
pioneered by an ophthalmic surgery research and development institute
in Rotterdam. The procedure involves inserting a 3.5 mm (0.13 inch)
wide 1 piece of specially developed jewelry -- the range includes
a glittering half-moon or heart -- into the eye's mucous membrane
under local anaesthetic at a cost of 500 to 1,000 euros ($1,232)....
The piece of jewelry is inserted in the conjunctiva -- the mucous
membrane lining the inner surface of the eyelids and front of the
eyeball -- in sterile conditions using an operating microscope in
a procedure taking about 15 minutes. 'Without doing any harm to
the eye we can implant a jewel in the conjunctiva,' Melles said.
'So far we have not seen any side effects or complications and we
don't expect any in the future.' The Rotterdam-based institute,
which develops new ocular surgical techniques in corneal, cataract
and retinal surgery, developed and patented the jewelry made with
special materials and the surgical procedure."
(Visit the above link to view a JewelEye being modeled by one of
"under local anaesthetic...in
sterile conditions...jewelry made with special materials...not seen
any side effects or complications..." Please keep in mind that
there have been no side affects on the seven (7) people who have
tried this procedure in the short time since the implantations began;
it is a good start.
Anesthetic, sterile conditions,
and the material from which the jewelry is made are all important
aspects to consider; these are aspects that are often not taken
into consideration when people are considering tattoos, piercings,
or other forms of body art. As for side effects:
"So Just How Bad Is
the Piercing Scene? Well, the American Dental Association opposes
oral (tongue, lip, or cheek) piercing and calls it a public health
hazard.... And both the U.S. and Canadian Red Cross won't accept
blood donations from anyone who has had a body piercing or tattoo
within a year because both procedures can transmit dangerous blood-borne
diseases. If you choose to have a body part pierced, you run the
risk of the following:* Chronic infection * Prolonged bleeding *
Scarring * Hepatitis B and C (which can be fatal) * Tetanus * HIV
(although there are no documented cases of this) * Skin allergies
to the jewelry that's used * Abscesses or boils (infected cysts
that form under your skin at the site of the piercing, which you
may have to have drained with needles) * Permanent holes in your
nostril or eyebrow * Chipped or broken teeth * Choking from mouth
jewelry * A speech impediment..."
All that just from a piercing
or tattoo? Really?
subcutaneous areas and has a high potential for infectious complications.
The number of case reports of endocarditis associated with piercing
is increasing. We studied a 25-year-old man with a pierced tongue,
who arrived at Memorial Health University Medical Center with fever,
chills, rigors, and shortness of breath of 6 days' duration and
had an aortic valvuloplasty for correction of congenital aortic
stenosis.... In the United States, body piercing, which is becoming
increasingly common, is mainly performed by unlicenced practitioners.
Only 26% of states have regulatory authority over tattooing establishments,
and only six of these states exercise authority over body-piercing
establishments. Piercing occurs in regulated and unregulated shops,
department stores, jewelry shops, homes, or physicians offices.
Generally no antibiotic is used, and sterilization methods vary."
"The inks used in
tattoos and permanent makeup (also known as micropigmentation) and
the pigments in these inks are subject to FDA regulation as cosmetics
and color additives. However, FDA has not attempted to regulate
the use of tattoo inks and the pigments used in them and does not
control the actual practice of tattooing. Rather, such matters have
been handled through local laws and by local jurisdictions. But
with the growth in popularity of tattooing and permanent makeup,
FDA has begun taking a closer look at related safety questions.
Among the issues under consideration are tattoo removal, adverse
reactions to tattoo colors, and infections that result from tattooing.
Another concern is the increasing variety of pigments and diluents
being used in tattooing -- more than fifty different pigments and
shades, and the list continues to grow. Although a number of color
additives are approved for use in cosmetics, none is approved for
injection into the skin. Using an unapproved color additive in a
tattoo ink makes the ink adulterated. Many pigments used in tattoo
inks are not approved for skin contact at all. Some are industrial
grade colors that are suitable for printers' ink or automobile paint."
"Rather, such matters
have been handled through local laws and by local jurisdictions."
"Only 26% of states have regulatory authority over tattooing
establishments, and only six of these states exercise authority
over body-piercing establishments."
What is happening in your
"A. It is unlawful to intentionally brand, scarify, tattoo
or pierce the body of a person who is under fourteen years of age.
This subsection does not apply to ear piercing or procedures prescribed
by a health care provider licensed pursuant to title 32.
B. It is unlawful to tattoo a person who is fourteen, fifteen, sixteen,
seventeen or eighteen years of age without the physical presence
of that person's parent or
C. It is unlawful for a person who tattoos or pierces the body of
another person to use a needle or ink more than once or to use a
needle that is not presterilized or autoclaved. D. It is unlawful
for a person who is not licensed pursuant to title 32 to administer
anesthesia during the course of any procedure involving the branding,
scarifying, tattooing or piercing of the body of another person."
"Tattoo and permanent cosmetic artists are required to be certified
in Arkansas. Certification requirements include a six-month apprenticeship
with an artist who has been certified in Arkansas for a minimum
of three years. An application for apprenticeship must be completed
as well as a written exam which is based on the Rules and
Regulations Pertaining Permanent Cosmetic and Tattoo Establishments.
A practical exam is conducted near the end of the six month apprenticeship....Act
414 of 2001 also addresses body piercing as a form of body art."
But not all the information
coming out of the states is encouraging to the health community.
"The Oregon Health Department investigated what caused at least
seven people to get a severe infection following upper ear cartilage
piercing. They discovered a jewelry stand in a rural Oregon mall
was using unsanitary and out-of-date equipment. The infection that
developed can be very serious. 'The ear looses its ability to hold
its shape and so the ear kind of crinkles up and becomes quite unsightly.
So it is a disfiguring infection. It doesn't affect your hearing,
it doesn't affect long term health but cosmetically it is quite
unfortunate.' Dr. Keene warns while piercing is common, it is still
an invasive procedure. To cut down on infection people should look
for places that have well-trained employees, updated equipment and
a sanitary environment."
Some tattoo artists, and
those who do piercings, may see the new regulations as more trouble
than they are worth. These new regulations, however, are not just
there to protect the consumer. The following site was created to
help those performing the procedures:
"The purpose of this
site is to help tattooists and body pierces to comply with the regulations
by explaining how infection can be associated with procedures they
employ and precautions they should take to protect their clients,
themselves and the community....The potential for serious infection
occurs during tattooing and body piercing. The needles that are
used to penetrate the skin at various sites on the body can become
contaminated by blood or serum. HIV (the virus which causes AIDS),
Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses are present in blood and spread
by infected blood entering another person's bloodstream. This can
happen during tattooing or body piercing, when needles used for
penetrating the skin are contaminated with infected blood or serum
and are not sterilized before use on another person. The person
at risk may be the next client
being treated with the contaminated instrument or you, if you accidentally
penetrate your skin with the contaminated instrument. This is called
a 'needle-stick' injury. Contact with infected blood, serum or contaminated
instruments on open cuts, sores or broken skin can also lead to
...[T]here are some things you can do to make piercing safer. Make
sure the shop where you get your piercing:
* is clean
* avoids the use of piercing guns, which aren't sterile
* uses needles once and disposes of them in a special container
* sterilizes everything that comes near the customer in an autoclave
(this is a sterilizing machine that hospitals use on their instruments)
In addition, the piercer
should wear disposable gloves and a mask - which he or she changes
with each customer. And if you do get pierced, make sure you take
good care of the piercing afterward - don't pick or tug at it, keep
the area clean with soap (not alcohol) and don't touch it without
washing your hands first. If you have a mouth piercing, use antibacterial
mouthwash after eating. So think long and hard before you get anything
other than your ears pierced. Most importantly - don't pierce yourself
or have a friend do it - it doesn't get much less sterile than your
bedroom on a Friday night."
If you are under tha age
of eighteen (18) and considering a tattoo or a piercing, please
consider: Anyone who is willing to "look the other way"
and ignore the fact that you are a minor, may be "looking the
other way" on some of these health and safety regulations,
as well. Call around. Check with the Department of Health.
Questions of the week:
What laws and regulations (if any) are in place where you live?
What information should people have about the health issues associated
with tattooing, piercing, branding, etc. before they make a decision
about whether or not it is something they want to do? Once the decision
has been made, what questions should the prospective clients ask
of any person and/or place of business where they are considering
having the work done? If no regulations exist where you live, is
it possible to assure a safe procedure? If regulations do exist,
is it possible to assure a safe procedure? What health risks change
when safety precautions are taken? What risks are the same in either
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum