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Do It Yourself Tattoos Are a Risky Proposition

Dr. W. Y Chung, MD - Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Tattoo Removal

Just the mention of homemade tattoos will often make people cringe. Most people have had some experience with them, either they’ve had one done or they’ve seen a less than stellar example on a friend or two. Obviously, every tattoo artist has to start somewhere, but experimenting on friends and family is risky business.

Despite their iffy reputation, homemade tattoos remain popular. People choose the DIY tattoo method for different reasons; because it’s affordable (to be honest, it’s usually free), because it can be more personal, or because no other method is available--think incarceration.

Laser Tattoo Removal

There are two methods which are commonly used. The stick and poke method involves an ordinary sewing needle, and the do-it-yourself tattoo gun, which requires assembling ordinary household items.

Stick and Poke Method

The stick and poke method is a very simple procedure. First, a permanent ink marker is used to draw an image on the skin then the skin is sterilized by a topically applied solution, usually isopropyl alcohol.  After the needle is sterilized by flame or boiling water it is used to prick along the lines.


Prick, is the operative word, going too deep is obviously a danger. Once the skin has been pricked, india ink is smeared into the tiny holes. Depending on the skill of the artist, sometimes each tiny prick is visible, and at others times the spaces between the dots are not visible making for a smoother line. Infection is obviously a worry with this method.

Homemade Tattoo Gun

Some amateur tattoo artists prefer building a tattoo machine. Amazingly, a homemade tattoo gun can be assembled from things a person likely has on hand. A small electric motor is necessary; people usually disassemble a motorized toy or a cd player to get these.

Homemade Tattoo

Other necessary items; a cylinder from a mechanical pencil or a ballpoint pen, a brace for the cylinder made from a toothbrush or utensil handle, duct tape, and needles cut from guitar string. In addition, a source of power is necessary to operate the gun.

Again, this process can be lead to an infection or the passing of blood borne diseases if precautions aren’t taken to sterilize and replace contaminated parts.

Considering Getting That Homemade Tattoo Removed…Don’t Go the DIY Route

Perhaps the best thing about homemade tattoos is that they are usually easier to remove than professional tattoos. But trying to remove them using homemade measures can leave a bigger mess than the original tattoo.


Let’s face it, most people get these tattoos on a lark and usually come to regret them fairly quickly (by the next day in some cases). Because less ink is normally used to create these amateur markings, compared to professional tattoos, the tattoo is lighter and easier to fade using a laser removal device.

Another reason why these homemade tattoos are easier to erase, is that the ink is superficially applied. Of course, if the ink-laden needle penetrated to the deeper layers then the tattoo will be more difficult to remove.

Small, lightly colored tattoos can be easily erased by the PicoSure laser system. Call our Honolulu center to set up an appointment and say goodbye to a tattoo which you’ve outgrown.

Inkoff MD Honolulu, HI

InkOff.MD offers the most advanced techniques for tattoo removals with fascinating results.

Contact us today for a consultation (808) 949-8346

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