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Study reveals reasons for tattoo removal

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Establishing a new identity and breaking ties with the past are key motivations behind why people choose to remove tattoos, a study has shown.

The team from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center surveyed 196 individuals who visited four dermatology clinics in 2006 to have their tattoos removed.

One hundred and thirty women and 66 men answered 127 questions about themselves, on acquiring their tattoos and why they now wanted to get rid of them. Their answers were compared with a similar survey from 1996.

‘In both surveys, a shift in identity occurred, and removal centred around dissociating from the past,’ said Myrna Armstrong, one of the authors and a nurse from the Center.

In 2006, 58% said their reason for removal was just deciding to do it, 57% said embarrassment, 38% said lowering of body image, 38% said getting a new job or career, 37% said having problems with clothes, 25% said stigma and 21% said marking an occasion, such as marriage.

Removers were more likely to be women (69%) that were white, single, college-educated and aged 24-39.

Archives of Dermatology (2008) 144:879-884

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