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      Does time have you rethinking your ink?

      LEXINGTON (WACH) â?? Tattoos are not a new thing, in fact, some of the first instances of ink date back to 6,000 B.C., having been found on mummies and other ancient scrolls and artifacts. Believed to have come to the United States in the mid 1800â??s, although historically often linked to outlaws, bikers, and of course the military, over the last three decades, it has become mainstream, with over 45 million Americanâ??s sporting a tat.

      All those millions of tattoo wearers boils down to over $2 billion annually. Itâ??s hard to argue the fascination and interest, as over a dozen reality shows, ranging from original ink, to cover-ups, and removals are broadcast into homes each week. As for reasons behind permanently changing your body, people cite milestones in their lives, children, heroes, the name of a partner, and of course, peer pressure.

      Outlawed in South Carolina until 2006, it has become a booming industry in the Palmetto State, where artists, according to Animated Canvasâ?? Scot â??Spyderâ?? Kumo are â??not eating ramen noodles.â?? Kumo says that tattooing isnâ??t new, as underground artists were always available to ink someone, but with the involvement of DHEC, regulation has made it a lot safer. Kumo suggests researching an artist before sitting in the chair. Look for sterilization in the works station, needles, and other tools. You should also look at the artistâ??s work. â??What you see a 4 year-old do with a crayon, I have seen a 40 year-old do with a tattoo needle,â?? he says.

      As could be expected, with all the ink going into bodies each year, some people arenâ??t happy with their decision. According to a survey by the Pew Institute, 17 percent of people with tattoos have expressed some regret.

      The regret isnâ??t always a change of heart on the message, but a good idea gone a bit wrong. â??It was supposed to say Life is a Beautiful Struggle,â?? says Gabby Wilson of the tattoo stretched over the top of her right foot, â??but the artist forgot the U,â?? leaving her with â??Life is a BEATIFUL Struggle.â?? Wilson points out that among her other tattoos, there have been a couple of other mistakes, including a reversed moon over a palmetto tree and a butterfly that looks more like a bat. That doesnâ??t dissuade her, however, some having more ink, pointing out others that represent her family and other events.

      â??Iâ??ve covered over 500 names that I personally put on people,â?? Kumo laughs, â??no boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands or wives â?? they come and go. Tattoos are forever.â??

      Covering and or altering a tattoo is often a fix for an ill-fated decision or change of heart, however, technology is also helping re-write tattoo history. Palmetto Vein and Aesthetic Centerâ??s Heather Moye says that the Picosure laser can break up the ink, which is then absorbed and processed by the body. Over a series of treatments, depending on the age, size, and location of the tattoo, a change of heart can be nothing more than a light scar and a memory. Moye says that the cost of a full treatment can range from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the tattoo.

      Tattoos are a popular way to express a message, celebrate a moment in time, or forever symbolize a passion, however, the decision should be thought out, the artist should be researched, and consideration for any professional or personal impact should be taken into account.