Last week, the D.C. Department of Health proposed new regulations that would require a 24-hour waiting period for tattoos. The measure is designed to limit impulsive behavior and was among dozens of proposed tattoo and piercing regulations covering everything from sanitation practices, account keeping and building requirements. Critics say it’s the latest example of burdensome “nanny state” regulations from government agencies. Kojo explores the proposals and rules that govern health and safety at body art establishments.


  • Martin Austermuhle Producer / Reporter,
  • Paul Roe Owner, Britishink Tattoos
  • Terrence Keaney Co-Director, Men's Dermatology Center, Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery


  • 13:25:28

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIWe're just discussing how much time we've spent on H Street before we begin this conversation on tattoos. For some people, getting a new tattoo is a rite of passage, a ritual involving planning and research, a couple hours of pain, a little blood and finally a work of art that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. For others, a trip to the tattoo parlor seat is the culmination of a chain of impulsive decisions which ultimately ends under a tattoo-removal laser in a dermatologist chair.

  • 13:25:56

    CONGRESSMAN ROBERT GOODLATTEStudies indicate that 20 to 30 percent of people regret their tattoos. But does this mean the government should set rules that make it harder to make a bad decision? Last week the DC Department of Health proposed a 24-hour waiting period for all tattoos and piercings, which would effectively end walk-in-appointments at local businesses, one of dozens of new proposed regulations on the industry.

  • 13:26:21

    NNAMDIJoining us to have a conversation about this is Paul Roe. He is owner of Britishink Tattoos. It's a tattoo parlor on H Street Northeast. How long have you been there, Paul?

  • 13:26:30

    MR. PAUL ROEWe've been on H Street for eight years now.

  • 13:26:32

    NNAMDIFor eight years. He's testified in front of the D.C. Council on tattoo and piercing regulation and safety. Paul, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:26:40

    ROEThank you for having me. It's a privilege.

  • 13:26:41

    NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Martin Austermuhle. He is a producer and reporter at WAMU 88.5. Martin, thank you for, well, coming downstairs.

  • 13:26:50

    MR. MARTIN AUSTERMUHLEAbsolutely. Thanks for having me.

  • 13:26:51

    NNAMDIAnd joining us by phone is Dr. Terrence Keaney. He's a dermatologist and co-director of Men's Dermatology Center at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. Dr. Keaney, thank you for joining us. I can't hear Dr. Keaney yet but I know he is there. You can join us by phone too by calling 800-433-8850 or you can send email to Should the District of Columbia have a mandatory 24-hour wait period for tattoos and piercing? Is this a legitimate public health concern or an example of the nanny state in your view, 800-433-8850? Or shoot us an email to or a Tweet at kojoshow.

  • 13:27:37

    NNAMDIMartin, there are dozens of establishments all over the city. They do piercings and tattoos and they've been around for decades. So I was actually surprised to read that these regulations are actually the first attempt by D.C. government to address these businesses. Where did these regulations come from?

  • 13:27:55

    AUSTERMUHLEWell, I was just as surprised as you were to find out that there's no licensing, there was no regulation, there isn't really much by way of kind of looking -- of overseeing tattoo parlors and body piercing in the city. And two years ago I started kind of digging in a bit, confirmed that fact. And shortly thereafter the D.C. Council started debating the law, which was passed last year, which said effectively that the Department of Health will now have jurisdiction over tattoo artists and body piercers. That was last June.

  • 13:28:21

    AUSTERMUHLENow suddenly a week ago, they dropped 66 pages worth of regulations kind of out of the blue into the D.C. register, found them, started looking through them. A lot of the regulations are this sort of health and safety thing you'd expect them to want to regulate. But then there was this one provision, which was the 24-hour waiting period, which seemed a little strange. So I called around to a few tattoo parlors, both in D.C. and outside. No one could say that they knew many places that had the same sort of waiting periods in effect.

  • 13:28:48

    AUSTERMUHLEThe city said it was based on the model in Wisconsin. I called Wisconsin. Wisconsin state regulations don't include it but counties and cities can actually go further than what the state allows. Still haven't been able to figure out where in Wisconsin these are implemented. But there's one town in New Jersey that has 800 people in it and they mandate a 48-hour waiting period I believe. But D.C. seems to be the only large city that is contemplating such a waiting period.

  • 13:29:11

    NNAMDII only knew about it when you started Tweeting about it on Friday morning and I was like, what, a 24-hour waiting period? But Paul, you're testified before the city council about regulations of tattoo parlors and you knew that these regulations were coming. What was your reaction when you actually sat down and red these proposals?

  • 13:29:30

    ROEGoing through the 66 pages with a fine tooth comb it was -- the reaction was straight up, well that's ridiculous. Next chapter, that's just silly. Next chapter, really? They think that this is appropriate? Next -- no, that's just silly. So it's -- it seems to me that there is this patchwork of regulations that would, yes, apply to any establishment that has open bathrooms for the general public to use and the coding that then regulates the plumbing and the floor surfaces and the lighting. That seems to be leveled on top of this large stack of papers, very little of which actually applies to the tattoo industry.

  • 13:30:19

    ROEThere's very few industry specifics within those 66 pages. And those industry specifics that they have included, quite honestly several of them are just untrue.

  • 13:30:32

    NNAMDIAnd one of those industry specifics having to do with the 24-hour waiting period, what percentage of your business comes from day of walk-ins?

  • 13:30:42

    ROEMy business, none. I actually operate an appointment-only establishment. So this mandatory 24-hour waiting period would not affect me.

  • 13:30:53

    NNAMDIBut you do have an opinion about it.

  • 13:30:55

    ROEI do. It's -- tattoos as a walk-in contract between two consenting adults, this has happened for thousands of years. This is a rite of passage. I looked at the 66 pages and I came away with it -- came away from it with a sense that we had three victories. Victory number one is the mandatory age of 18. And that's what we asked the council for two years ago in 2011. There should be a minimum age of 18. This is an act between two consenting adults and you should be legally responsible for your own actions. So that's victory number one.

  • 13:31:39

    ROEVictory number two, they do specify the body artist cannot distribute prescription drugs. And that's something we hadn't asked the council for but with the proliferation of topical anesthetics being used in tattooing to numb the surface, there isn't a single topical anesthetic that is designed to be pushed into the skin, to be pricked, to be subdermally implanted by tattoo needles. So I'm also of the opinion, if you need numbing cream to get a tattoo, you don't need a tattoo.

  • 13:32:14

    ROEAnd our third and final victory's -- we're talking about this. Legislation is inevitable, but what we need is concise simple regulation because that's effective regulation. This 66 pages is convoluted. It will change. It has to change. It cannot be passed into law as it is.

  • 13:32:33

    NNAMDIBefore I go to Dr. Keaney, Martin Austermuhle, Paul might not depend on walk-in businesses but a significant number of his colleagues in the business do, some of them saying that as much as more than half of their business comes from walk-ins, right?

  • 13:32:47

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah, absolutely. I think Paul's is, you know, custom tattoos of the quality that I think he does is a bit of an outlier in the tattoo industry. He was telling me earlier that there's a growth in that part of the industry. But generally speaking -- and a lot of tattoo artists I spoke to in D.C. rely on walk-ins or at least are happy to accept them. And they recognize that if someone wants to walk in off the street, look at a design or choose a design of their own, making and say to an artist, you know, put this on my body, that's their business. And to a certain extent they fear that if they lose that business, well that's -- they could just go out of business altogether.

  • 13:33:21

    NNAMDIBut, as Paul pointed out, some of these proposals do address some pretty important issues of safety, correct?

  • 13:33:28

    AUSTERMUHLEOh, absolutely. But the interesting thing is when I was first writing this story two years ago, I talked to some of the tattoo artists and they generally said that across -- not every tattoo artist was, you know, on the straight and narrow. but the majority of them followed industry standards. And they would -- you know, you have some rogue operators of course but generally speaking, you know, they did things right and they did things according to basic health and safety regulations that are now trying to be codified.

  • 13:33:52

    NNAMDIMartin Austermuhle is a producer and reporter at WAMU 88.5. He joins us on this conversation we're calling Thinking Before You Ink: D.C.'s Proposed 24-Hour Tattoo Wait Period. He joins us in studio with Paul Roe, owner of Britishink Tattoos, a tattoo parlor on H Street Northeast. Paul has testified in front of the D.C. Council on tattoo and piercing regulation and safety. Joining us by phone is Dr. Terrence Keaney. He's a dermatologist and co-director of the Men's Dermatology Center of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery.

  • 13:34:23

    NNAMDIDr. Keaney, I've seen a lot of statistics about tattoos in the country. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, roughly one in four Americans has a tattoo. And a recent study out of the UK found that one-third of these people have regrets. Can you talk a little bit about the health concerns about the act of getting a tattoo?

  • 13:34:45

    DR. TERRENCE KEANEYYes. You know, as a medical professional I have nothing against tattoos as long as they are safe, and the individual who's getting it has, you know, what we call in the medical profession, sign and reform consent, meaning they understand and they want a tattoo. So I do commend the D.C. government for proposing regulations to reduce medical risk. And that really is what the 66-page document is attempting to do.

  • 13:35:10

    DR. TERRENCE KEANEYBecause there are real risks with tattoos in terms of the transmission of infectious diseases through the inappropriate clean needles and equipment, as well as tattoo ink toxicity, as well as an allergic reaction to the inks themselves. So there are real risks. And, you know, as a dermatologist who treats patients who want their tattoos removed, there is a segment of clients who get tattoos who have regret it. Around 20 to 30 percent of individuals who get a tattoo eventually would want it removed, though only a smaller percentage actually go through with the tattoo removal process.

  • 13:35:50

    DR. TERRENCE KEANEYBut what's interesting is those who come for tattoo removal tend to come many, many years after their tattoo. So we don't necessarily see that immediate regret where they get the tattoo and the next day they're at our office. It's -- usually there's a lag time. One study quoted around 14 years between the incidents of getting the tattoo to presenting for tattoo removal.

  • 13:36:10

    DR. TERRENCE KEANEYSo in terms of the 24-hour regulation, I'm not sure if it would, you know, prevent a lot of individuals -- what I find in my practice is patients slowly over time have regretted their tattoo due to changing body image, different lifestyle, you know, growing up and having different job implications. And that's really when we see tattoo -- patients coming in for tattoo removal.

  • 13:36:37

    NNAMDIPaul, it's my understanding that your interest in the health aspect of this is both professional and personal, having to do with the first tattoo you ever got.

  • 13:36:45

    ROEYes. My first tattoo did contain cadmium red, which is not used. And I state again, cadmium red is not used as a modern tattoo pigment. That was a personal choice. It was a pigment, for using the edo period in Japan, was something that I worked carefully with the artist in order to obtain and took several months to. And this is almost 30 years ago now.

  • 13:37:16

    KEANEYHowever, I do have those people coming to me who have recently got a tattoo and are recently regretting it. And those tend to be from establishments who are not professional. Those tend to be from the tattoo parties that are happening within the District of Columbia or in surrounding areas. Those tend to be from the hobbyists. And that's where regulation is important. The professionals who are working in the tattoo industry in D.C. today would not be affected by regulation -- correct, concise regulation, standard operating procedures that happen in every state. It is legislated that you follow universal precautions.

  • 13:38:02

    KEANEYWe, ironically, also in the tattoo industry have a thing called informed consent form. And you must sign that. Within a professional environment the OSHA standards are met, blood or pathogen training, CPR training. Your artist in a professional environment is reliable. We treat with a universal precaution. Everybody, including the practitioner, is treated as being potentially infectious. Within the controlled environment of the tattoo studio, a two-, three-, four-hour appointment is in a controlled environment.

  • 13:38:40

    KEANEYThe susceptibility to infection is when that person leaves the door. The tattoo artist, the business loses control over how that tattoo is looked after. The vast majority of infections come from incorrect after-care procedure. People do not listen to the after-care instructions provided to them by their artist.

  • 13:39:02

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is our number. Did you -- do you have a tattoo? Did you get it as a walk-in? Did you get it at a tattoo party? Did you live to regret it, 800-433-8850? We're going to Izzy in Woodbridge, Va. Izzy, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:39:21

    IZZYHi, Kojo. Good to hear from you. This is actually a topic that strikes me kind of close to home. I have one single tattoo. I have a lot of piercings, but only one tattoo. It was a walk-in appointment, but it was a tattoo that I'd been thinking about for a couple of years actually. I have an issue where I can't wear wedding rings. I can't wear rings at all and I was married. I wanted a symbol from my marriage. So I actually got a tattoo on my ring finger as a walk-in appointment. It was a surprise for my husband when I got home. But it wasn't, you know, just an off-the-cuff, hey, I'm going to go do this. It was, you know what, I have the money. Our anniversary is coming up. , I know this tattoo parlor. It's where I got most of my piercings done. I have friends that have gotten tattoos from there. I know what I'm getting into. Let me go do this. To me, the idea of regulations and legislating on making people wait 24 hours to get a tattoo just seems kind of ridiculous. It seems like they're trying to make people feel better.

  • 13:40:33

    IZZYIt's a case of trying to keep people from getting buyer's remorse, and, you know, it's -- most people that I know that have tattoos, even if they went in last minute and, you know, came in off the street, it's something they've been thinking about for awhile or, you know, it just seems kind of silly to me, you know?

  • 13:40:50

    NNAMDIAnd you don't think the government should be in the business of regulating buyer's remorse?

  • 13:40:55

    IZZYI really don't, like, not for something like this. In this case we're talking about you have to be 18 years or older, or you have to have a parent there with you. In some cases, most -- there are a lot of states and counties that won't do tattoos on anyone younger than 18, even, you know, with...

  • 13:41:12

    NNAMDIAnd, Martin, this is what the District regulation would provide for also?

  • 13:41:17

    AUSTERMUHLEIt would provide for age, and also, I think the other interesting, you know, provision of the regulations is it does say that neither the artist nor the person getting the tattoo can be under the influence of any drugs, of alcohol, or anything, because the concern could be well, you give it 24 hours for the person to sober up. But, I mean, if there's already a rule that says you can't be drunk, you can't be high, you can't be under the influence of anything if you're looking to consent to a tattoo, then it seems that the 24 hours is a little excessive.

  • 13:41:43

    NNAMDISpeaking of which, thank you for your call, Izzy. Here is Gene in Frederick, Md. Gene, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:41:50

    GENEGood day, gentlemen. I'm really enthused to hear what you guys are talking about today, because just last night, my wife came in and she was telling me about a lady she had seen in the store with tattoos on her legs and arms and, of course, we're older, so, you know, she didn't -- she said, God, I can't believe she'd do that. Anyway, my point is, back in the sixties, I was in the Navy, and the Navy had a long tradition, for people that don't know this, of getting tattoos, because wherever they sailed around the world in the 18th, 19th century, they would stop and get a tattoo, and then when they came home they could show it off to their family and their buddies.

  • 13:42:29

    GENEAnd this was -- but in the sixties, it wasn't quite the same. It wasn't as big a deal, but here's my point, and I'm not -- I guess I have a couple points. One of them is the government -- I'm not so much for the government controlling everything we do or we don't do. You have a write to, you know, paint yourself if you want to. But here's my point, and I'm just gonna use a phrase here, impulse buying.

  • 13:42:56

    GENEWhen we went ashore, I would say 99 percent of all my friends that got tattoos, we never talked about it on the ship. I'm gonna go home, you know, I'm gonna go when we get to Puerto Rico or wherever we're going and get a tattoo. We would go out, and I didn't get one, I don't know why. I just didn't particularly like tattoos. But anyway, the guys would come back to the ship and they'd have a tattoo, and 99 percent of them would -- I'm talking about my own experience now, would regret it later, that they did that.

  • 13:43:32

    GENEBecause for one thing, the most popular tattoo to get was either mom, or your girlfriend. Well, we know how girlfriends come and go, just like boyfriends do when you're 20 years old.

  • 13:43:45

    NNAMDIYou haven't used the one or two words that I expected you to use in this conversation, Gene. One of them is alcohol, the other is drunk.

  • 13:43:52

    GENEThat's just -- I was just going to say that. Under the influence, which is what I'm talking about, going into bars and getting high, then it's easy to make a decision because you got that group pressure, hey, let's get a tattoo, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And almost all of them -- all my friends, regretted doing that. That's my point.

  • 13:44:13


  • 13:44:13

    GENENow, this other lady said the opposite, and I can't say anything about that because I'm just talking about my own experience...

  • 13:44:19


  • 13:44:19

    GENE...with my friends.

  • 13:44:20

    NNAMDIExactly right. I wanted you to have the opportunity to make that point, Gene, even though we have to go to a short break, so thank you very much for you call. When we come back, we'll talk a little bit more about that, and about the process of tattoo removal. We're still inviting your calls at 800-433--8850, or send us a tweet @kojoshow, or email to I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:46:27

    NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation about DC's proposed 24-hour tattoo wait period. We're talking with Dr. Terrence Keaney. He's a dermatologist and co-director of the Men's Dermatology Center at the Washington Institute of Dermatological Laser Surgery. Paul Roe is owner of British Ink Tattoos, a tattoo parlor on H Street Northeast. Paul has testified before the DC Council on Tattoo and Piercing Regulation and Safety, and Martin Austermuhle is a producer and reporter here at WAMU 88.5, who has been covering this issue for years.

  • 13:46:58

    NNAMDIWe're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Dr. Keaney, can you talk a little bit about how one goes about getting a tattoo removed?

  • 13:47:07

    KEANEYAbsolutely. So what we do at our practice is we use an ultrashort laser energy, so the laser we choose depends on the pigment -- the color of the pigment, and the laser is preferentially absorbed by that pigment deposition underneath the skin, and generates heat and structural changes to the ink itself, allowing the body to reabsorb the pigmentation. So essentially what we're doing is we're fragmenting the pigment underneath the skin.

  • 13:47:37

    KEANEYThis treatment is not a simple or quick procedure. It often takes multiple procedures, you know, upwards of 10-plus treatments, and it is quite uncomfortable, and it can lead to scarring in less than five percent of patients, as well as changes in pigmentation when the tattoo is removed in that the skin might be a little different in terms of texture and a little lighter or darker in color. Now, we treat, you know, what we're talking about today is mostly professional tattoos, but, you know, as Paul mentioned before there are amateur tattoos such as at tattoo parties.

  • 13:48:17

    KEANEYTattoos are also used in the medical field in terms of identifying sites for radiation as well as traumatic tattoos during injury where gravel or other things get deposited underneath the skin, and depending on that tattoo, the success and ease of removing varies, with professional tattoos being the most difficult because the techniques deposit significant pigmentation which takes it longer and more treatments to remove.

  • 13:48:42

    NNAMDII should mention that we did invite the DC Department of Health to participate in this conversation, but we got no response from them. Paul, it's my understanding that some tattoo providers also provide tattoo removal services, but you don't seem to be too enthusiastic about those.

  • 13:48:58

    ROEI'm not a fan of laser removal. There is -- it's a crap shoot. There is absolutely no way, without taking a sample of that pigment and doing a biopsy and a chemical analysis that you know what's going to happen when you start bombarding an unknown chemical substance with that amount of energy.

  • 13:49:19

    NNAMDIThat's it?

  • 13:49:20

    ROEThere is an escharotic method which has been used since the ancient Greeks that involves caustic substances being tattooed under the skin to have the body reject the pigment via scabbing on the surface. Again, you know, these are things that I personally believe don't belong in a tattoo studio. That's -- it's a place of application. It's not a place of removal. There is phrase in the business saying, you get the tattoo that you deserve. And if you walk into a tattoo party drunk, the chances are you're going to get what you deserve.

  • 13:49:56

    NNAMDIMartin, this story made headlines around the country because it has some sensational elements, but here in DC it fits within a pattern that some people find very alarming about our local government. First off, there's a sense that we sometimes burden local businesses with excessive regulations.

  • 13:50:12

    AUSTERMUHLEYeah. And this ironically falls right around the time that the mayor -- he set up a task force. I think it was earlier this year, or maybe last year, and it was basically -- it ordered a bunch of agencies, a bunch of business owners to find out how to clear out the red tape that makes it so hard for businesses to operate in DC. And in that same time, the city has put out regulations on everything from Uber, which is car-sharing service, to food trucks and now tattoos, and all these regulations have generally speaking been panned by the industries themselves that would be affected.

  • 13:50:40

    AUSTERMUHLENow, you can say that industries are going to be slightly protective and say, listen, we don't want regulations whatsoever, scrap these, but in just about all of those cases, spare maybe Uber, the food trucks came to the table and said, listen, we recognize that there need to be regulations, but we want them to be, you know, there needs to be a balance between what we want and what's going to make us successful and what the city wants to protect consumers.

  • 13:51:00

    AUSTERMUHLEAnd I think having seen the hearings in the DC Council, Paul and some other owners of tattoos shops came in and said the same thing, which actually surprised me, because you're certainly going to get libertarians in any industry. They're going to say don't regulate us. We can do it by ourselves. It's the best way to keep things going. But for business owners themselves to come up and say, listen, regulate us, but regulate us intelligently, and I think the debate ends up being that the city isn't so good at regulating intelligently, at least not on a first try. Thankfully, there's a process by which regulations are changed.

  • 13:51:29

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones. Here is Erik in Manassas, Va. Erik, your turn.

  • 13:51:35

    ERIKHey, Kojo. It's actually a really good pleasure to be speaking with you. I've been listening for awhile.

  • 13:51:39


  • 13:51:41

    ERIKBut I just want to say that I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I'm now 36. I've been getting tattooed since I was 18. I think that, you know, these regulations just seem to be a little bit obscene almost, like, to the point that it's like, you know, where do these regulations stop? When they, you know, with how I deal with my body. You know, because I know I've regretted eating a Big Mac in the middle of the night, you know, why aren't they regulating fast food instead of worrying about my tattoos?

  • 13:52:11


  • 13:52:11

    ERIKIt's not really -- I don't really have a question. It's more of a comment.

  • 13:52:13

    NNAMDIOh, no. I appreciate your comment. We thought that that would be one of the bigger concerns that people have, and even though Erik -- I mean, even though, Paul, you are in favor of some of the health regulations here, are you concerned that some of these regulations actually affect kind of boilerplate language?

  • 13:52:29

    ROEYeah. And going back to the 24-hour thing, I actually question as whether or not that's constitutional. And tattooing is widely recognized as an art form, and all art forms, regardless of their medium, are protected as free speech. Am I incorrect in saying that?

  • 13:52:47

    AUSTERMUHLEI was -- after -- I spoke to Paul last Friday when this story was developing, and since then I've spoken to a couple of constitutional law professors to ask them, you know, what's the standing law on tattooing as being protected First Amendment activity? And they said, well, it varies state to state. Some states say that the tattoo itself is protected First Amendment speech. The process of getting tattooed is not. But there's been more recent cases. I think one in Massachusetts, maybe one in California where they said you can't separate the act from the result.

  • 13:53:14

    AUSTERMUHLESo the tattoo, and the process of getting a tattoo is protected by the First Amendment. So any sort of regulation has to be -- the government has to show a substantial interest and some sort of public concern, and you could say if there was proof that waiting 24 hours was going to limit the spread of Hepatitis B let's say, then the Department of Health would be fully on the right side of the debate.

  • 13:53:36

    ROENow, that they said publically that this was to stop people from getting impulse tattoos, I think that was the exact quote, it seems like this has nothing to do with health and safety and more to do with regret and taste, and that, you know, in terms of First Amendment, is obviously a little troublesome.

  • 13:53:50

    NNAMDIOn the Constitutional question, we got an email from Beth who said, "One caller said the government should not prohibit us from painting our own bodies if we want to, but that is not what is going on here. Another individual is painting your body for commercial gain, and government definitely should be regulating that. If you want to be beyond the reach of government regulation, then tattoo yourself?" I suspect that would be beyond the reach of government regulation, but not also very advisable.

  • 13:54:17

    ROEAnd ironically, within the 66 pages proposed, there is a clause that says that you are not allowed to tattoo or pierce yourself in the body art establishment.

  • 13:54:29

    NNAMDISo there you go with that. Dr. Keaney, can you characterize, if you will, who comes to you for tattoo removal? Is that people who regret the existence of the tattoo itself, or is it the type of tattoo? Is it the location of the tattoo that people are concerned about?

  • 13:54:46

    KEANEYYou know, it really ranges, and you would be surprised, young, old, male, females, seek tattoo removal. And what's interesting is not every individual is against tattoos. In fact, a study showed that a third of patients getting laser tattoo removal, plan to get another tattoo. So often it's not against the tattoo itself, but...

  • 13:55:08

    NNAMDIWe broke up, so out with him. But, no. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:11

    KEANEYNo. But it's the message that that tattoo may have played at one point in their life doesn't resonate at their point of life right now. And so it really varies, and it's surprising who we see, male and female.

  • 13:55:28

    NNAMDIOnto the telephones again. Here is Joshua in Alexandria, Va. Hi, Joshua.

  • 13:55:37

    JOSHUAYes. Hi, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call.

  • 13:55:38

    NNAMDIYou're welcome.

  • 13:55:40

    JOSHUAOne of my questions was this, at least when I was living in Austin where I got my tattoo, it seems pretty standard that you would have to wait at least 24 hours to be able to sit with a tattoo artist before having a tattoo applied. So I guess I'm wondering in DC is that the same case where most tattoo artists have -- you have reserve your time with them in advance?

  • 13:56:01

    ROEThat isn't -- it isn't standard by any means. There is two working models really if you want to look at it like that. One is a walk-in shop that would be considered more of a traditional parlor where you can walk in and select a design, or walk in and sit down with an artist and have a design made for you on the spot and then it's applied, and then there is a different model where you would make contact and the design would be put together and a date would be set in the future for the application of that.

  • 13:56:33

    ROESo it's not a standard process to set up and appointment ahead of time. The walk-in situation is very traditional, and it's something that's been happening in this country for as long as this country has been here.

  • 13:56:46

    NNAMDIJoshua, thank you for your call. And we're running out of time, Paul, but since you got your first tattoo almost 30 years ago...

  • 13:56:52


  • 13:56:53 a little bit about how social acceptance of tattoos has changed and how well that's affected businesses like yours?

  • 13:57:00

    ROEWell, you see them everywhere now, and all you have to do is walk through the mall and look at how many tattoo-like images are used on just about everything, t-shirts and diapers and toothbrushes, and that tattoo esthetic has become very trendy, and eventually it will go away as fashions change, and, of course, one of the reasons for people getting tattoos removed is that image is now dated and, therefore, they want to change it to something else. The tattoo esthetic changes. The level of artistry in this business is a thousand fold what it was 30 years ago.

  • 13:57:39

    NNAMDIMartin, we're running out of time very quickly, but what's the process left with these regulations?

  • 13:57:42

    AUSTERMUHLESo as of last Friday, there was a 30-day clock ticking, so 30 days, anybody can submit comments to the Department of Health. After that they go back to the drawing board. They decide if they want to take -- accept any of the comments, change any of the rules, and they resubmit the rules for public viewing, and it eventually goes to the Council. And then I guess we'll get to find out if any council members have tattoos because they might have some strong opinions about the issue. I'd love to find out.

  • 13:58:06

    NNAMDIMartin Austermuhle is a producer and reporter at WAMU 88.5. Martin, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:10

    AUSTERMUHLEThanks for having me.

  • 13:58:11

    NNAMDIPaul Roe is the owner of British Ink Tattoos. It's a tattoo parlor on H Street Northeast. Paul, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:15

    ROEThank you. These rules will change. We will make them change.

  • 13:58:19

    NNAMDIDr. Terrence Keaney is a dermatologist. Dr. Keaney, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:58:23

    KEANEYThank you for having me.

  • 13:58:24

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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