Tattoos have been used for everything from brandishing criminals to remembering passed loved ones over the course of history. But, these days, they’re doing some very important work—work that might just save lives in the long run.
We’ve all seen those medical alert bracelets, correct? The shiny silver ones with the large metal plate detailing a person’s critical medical history. Those, in and of themselves, were a genius idea, however, there were some flaws. What if someone forgets theirs one morning? What if the bracelet is snapped off during an accident? Well, in step tattoos. . .
The medical tattoo is a rising trend in the field of body art. It appeals to those who may not normally tattoo themselves in the first place, bringing an even larger percentage of individuals into the fold of the tattoo culture. And it can be a lifesaver.
So what are these medical tattoos and what do they do?
A medical tattoo generally depicts a life-threatening allergy or possible illness that may affect care given in an emergency situation. They are helpful in cases where the individual is not conscious enough to inform medical professionals of these dire circumstances that would alter the course of their treatment. For example, if someone is allergic to a specific, yet common medicine and the result of being given the medicine is a greater risk to their life than going without it, this is something they would want medical professionals to know. A medical tattoo ensures the information is available to those who need it the most, whether or not the person is available to divulge their medical history.
While the process is still currently unregulated—it is definitely a rising trend. Of course, placement is key in these tattoos and they cannot be understated or hidden, which has driven a handful of people away from the idea. However, the exorbitant cost of medical bracelets and necklaces, replacing them over the years can get quite costly which adds yet another perk to the concept of the medical tattoos.
In an article featured in USA TODAY, 33-year-old Ben Roberts mentioned that he had spent well over $1,000 on medical ID bracelets and necklaces in the years following his Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.
“It’s a negative thing to say, but diabetes isn’t going away anytime soon,” he told the publication. “You might as well get a tattoo.”
Despite the growing trend of these lifesaving medical tattoos, several organizations still will not support the use of medical tattoos for various reasons. According to the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, using medical tattoos in lieu of more conventional methods of identification (such as a card in the wallet or a medical alert bracelet or necklace) is not recommended, citing that emergency responders aren’t trained to look for them. This could make the process even more complicated, as medical tattoos are not standardized in placement or size and could be potentially passed up as just another tattoo by medical professionals.
Whether the medical community is willing to open its arms to the idea of medical alert tattoos, the fact remains that they are indeed growing in popularity with every passing day. Medical alert tattoos are a thing, they are happening, and in some cases, they are helping.
So tell us, would you be willing to forgo your medical alert bracelet in exchange for some ink?