• Mechanicsburg Office
    Fredricksen Outpatient Center
    2025 Technology Parkway, Suites 108 & 109
    Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
    Phone: (717) 791-2680
    Fax: (717) 791-2686
  • Camp Hill Office
    25 West Shore Drive
    Camp Hill, PA 17011
    Phone: (717) 791-2680
    Fax: (717) 909-6803
JDC is currently accepting newborns into the practice. However, so that we can continue to offer our existing patients the care and attention that they deserve, JDC is no longer accepting families with existing children who wish to transfer their care from another practice. This will remain in effect until further notice.
Text4baby is a free* health information service delivered on your mobile phone, to help keep you and your baby healthy. JDC Pediatrics recommends this app, which will give you access to well-visit information, a personalized vaccination tracker, and appointment reminders. Click here for sign-up info.
Does your child always seem to have some kind of form or another to be completed? He may or may not need to be seen, depending on the type of form. Click here to find out what you will need to do.
The flu vaccine for the 2017-18 flu season is now available at JDC Pediatrics. We recommend that all children ages 6 months through 18 years receive this vaccine. Please call our office to schedule an appointment. Click here for more info on the flu vaccine.
The American Accademy of Pediatrics (AAP) is advising parents to stop giving fruit juice to children in the first year of life, saying the drink is not as healthful as many parents think. Click here for more info and age-group recommendations for fruit juice.
Previously the HPV vaccine was given as a 3-dose series for all eligible-aged children. Now only 2 doses are recommended for children age 9 through 14, with the doses separated by at least 6 months. Children who begin HPV vaccination at 15 years of age and older will still need 3 doses. We will send a reminder call to you when your child is due for their next dose.


Paul Gillum, M.D.
Aurora/Parker Skin Care Center
Aurora, Colorado

What is a tattoo?

A "tattoo" refers to any permanent mark made by placing colored material ("pigment") under the skin surface. The pigment can be nearly any substance, including ink, dye, carbon, or metal. Most decorative tattoos are made by intentionally injecting pigment under the skin surface to create permanent artistic designs. Sometimes, tattoos are made when the pigment is accidentally pushed into the skin. For example, ear piercing, a gunpowder explosion, or a "road rash" could make an accidental tattoo.


Who gets a tattoo?

Decorative tattoos are by far the most common. Tattoos are an artistic expression of individual taste and style. In the last few years, tattooing has become a popular way to apply permanent "make-up," such as eyeliner. Not all tattoos are decorative. Sometimes, doctors use small tattoos to permanently mark the skin to help give medical treatments at exactly the same spot every time. Tattoos also are used to identify members of a group, such as prisoners, social groups, or gang members.


What are the medical risks of a decorative tattoo?

Because needles and injections are used in tattooing, improperly sterilized equipment can spread viruses. Getting a tattoo significantly increases a person's risk of contracting viral hepatitis. Although possible, there are no documented cases of HIV linked to tattoo needles. Since tattoos create a wound in the skin, there is a small risk of bacterial infection, scar formation, or a keloid.

Allergic reactions to the ink or pigment are possible, and the allergy may not stop unless the tattoo is removed. There are many reports of skin cancer occurring in a tattoo. Tattooing can spread warts and molluscum (a skin disease that is characterized by soft, round masses).


What are the non-medical risks of a decorative tattoo?

Many people get tattoos impulsively and without much thought. Later, some people regret getting them or regret the location or design. Several articles document that it is harder to leave a gang lifestyle once the members are tattooed. A recent study surveyed individuals responsible for hiring new employees and found that many of them would not hire a person with visible tattoos.


How is a tattoo removed?

In most decorative tattoos, the pigment is found in the upper part of the skin, called dermis. The earliest methods of tattoo treatment simply removed the top layers of skin where the pigment was located.

Salabrasion uses salt particles to rub away the upper skin and the pigment. Immediately after treatment, the skin looks and feels like a "road rash." Although this method is inexpensive, it always leaves a significant scar, and it can be quite painful. Dermabrasion is a similar technique that uses a high-speed rotating sanding bit.

Small tattoos can be cut out surgically and then stitched closed. This leaves a surgical scar. Some locations, like the face, heal very well. If the tattoo is located on an area of the skin with a lot of movement or tension (e.g., hips, knees, or shoulders), the surgical scar will usually widen, or there may be stretch marks around the incision. Sometimes, large tattoos are cut out in stages over several sessions. Again, there is often a significant surgical scar.

The dermaplane is a tool that shaves off the top layer of the skin. This tool is often used to harvest skin for skin grafting. Amateur tattoos are frequently placed irregularly and deeper, so this technique may not go deep enough to remove all the color. As with the other surgical techniques, this often leaves a scar.

Several different LASER systems are now available for tattoo removal. The carbon dioxide (CO2) LASER simply burns off the top of the skin, one layer at a time, until all the color is gone. There is always scarring, resembling other kinds of burn scars.

Newer LASER systems use special types of light energy to instantaneously heat and destroy the tattoo pigment without damaging the surrounding skin. Some systems even have a device attached that keeps the surface of the skin cool to avoid a heat injury or burn. Some LASER systems work best for black pigment, while other systems work better for red or green pigments. This method of treatment is much less likely to cause pain or scarring. However, most LASER systems require multiple treatment sessions, and it may cost several hundred dollars per session.

When considering tattoo removal, discuss all of the methods, risks, costs, and alternatives with us.


Links to other information

For medical articles about tattoos, log on to: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/body_art/

As an alternative to permanent tattoos, consider Henna tattoos.

Yahoo search results on henna tattoos

For the history of tattooing, go to: http://tattoos.com/jane/steve/toc.htm

History of Tattooing



About the Author

After finishing medical school and dermatology training at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Gillum came to Colorado to further his knowledge in this specialty. He is board certified in Dermatology and Dermatopathology.

He works at a busy private practice with offices in Aurora and Parker, Colorado. He also teaches at the University of Colorado Department of Dermatology and volunteers his time working with gang members to have their tatoos removed.

Copyright 2012 Paul Gillum, M.D., All Rights Reserved

Mechanicsburg Office • 2025 Technology Parkway, Suites 108 & 109 • (717) 791-2680 | Camp Hill Office • 25 West Shore Drive • (717) 791-2680