BJPsych Advances
Tattoos: what is their significance?
Vivek Khosla, Verghese Joseph, Harvey Gordon


The prevalence of tattoos is higher among people with mental disorders and those likely to come in contact with mental health services. The motivations for acquiring a tattoo are varied and tattoos can give clues to the presence of particular psychiatric conditions and to the inner world of patients. Psychiatrists need to be aware of the health and safety issues surrounding the tattooing procedure and be able to give appropriate advice to their patients if they wish to acquire a tattoo. The issue of capacity must be considered. This may be particularly relevant for clinicians working with adolescents, the most common age group for acquiring tattoos. Owing to the high proportion of adults who subsequently regret their tattoos and the associated psychological and social distress, clinicians should be aware of methods of tattoo removal.

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