The health risk you didn’t know about getting tattoos, and it’s not cancer

Tattoos are very trendy and they are ingrained in many cultures. But how healthy is it to have most of your body covered in tattoos?

This man wants to get a ‘total coverage’ tattoo, how dangerous is it?
© Carrie Davenport / GETTY IMAGES
This man wants to get a ‘total coverage’ tattoo, how dangerous is it?

Keith Gordon is a 67 year-old British man who has been collecting tattoos for the past 15 years.

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Over the years, he has gotten a lot of media coverage for his extreme tattoos. Gordon has his lips, ears and even eyelids tattooed.

Since he discovered his passion, he has almost covered his body entirely with ink. Pictures show that his face, for instance, is almost completely covered with different designs.

In a recent article, Gordon has sworn not to stop until he gets ‘total coverage.’

But how healthy is it to cover your entire body with ink? Let’s see.

Who is Keith Gordon?

Keith Gordon’s life was not always newsworthy. Like many people he got married, had 3 children, bought a house and worked as a civil servant.

While he got his first tattoo when he was 17, his passion didn’t develop until he was 52.

Keith Gordon has explained that tattoos became a way for him to ‘reinvent himself.

In his attempt to do so, he even had ‘skin grafts’ to hide the tattoos he had in his youth because he no longer liked them.

Over the years, Gordon is believed to have spent over £20K on his precious tattoos. He even admits that over time he's 'lost count' of how many tattoos he has gotten.

Read more:Women cover up mastectomy scars with beautiful tattoos

He also stated that getting tattoos has now become ‘one big project.

While he absolutely loves it and wants to continue to do it he is acutely aware that his appearance is not to everyone’s taste.

In an interview, he said:

Lisa (his wife) doesn’t like my tattoos. She hates them but she accepts they are a part of who I am

Unfortunately, not a lot of people are as accepting as Lisa. Gordon has been called a ‘monster’ several times. But that doesn’t scare Gordon and he is adamant that he will cover his entire body in ink.

At the moment now I just want to get rid of any white spaces. I'm going towards total coverage now.

Does covering your body with tattoos impact your health?

Keith Gordon’s choice to get that many tattoos have impacted his life significantly. He now can’t leave the house without being noticed. Some people think it’s ‘f***king brilliant’ while others will shout that he looks like Satan.

While those comments may impact some people’s mental health, Gordon seems to be able to handle them.

He says:

I have no regrets about looking like this

On a practical level, Healthline reports that ‘there’s no concrete evidence supporting the development of skin cancer from getting a tattoo.’

While this is true Healthline still highlights the fact that it is important to always ask the tattoo artist what kind of ink they will use before getting the tattoo.

However, cancer is not the only health risk when getting a tattoo. Indeed, you could get an allergic reaction such as: ‘redness, swelling, rash or hives, blistering, itchiness’. Be warned, these reactions can take weeks or days to appear.

Getting a tattoo could also cause skin infections coming from 'unsterile needles’ or if you don’t take care of your fresh tattoo.

You could also get scarred as ‘the process of tattooing creates a wound deep within the dermis (middle layer) of your skin.’ Depending on the type of scar you may need help from a dermatologist or even get surgery to get rid of the scars.

Another big risk is getting infectious diseases like hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS. These are very serious and they are the reason why checking the health and safety measures of your tattoo parlour is an absolute must.

The final risk Healthline highlights is an issue concerning MRIs. This medical test is not always something you can avoid and it is crucial to tell the health professionals that you have tattoos before you start the exam.

They explain:

These tests use a combination of radio waves and magnets to help your doctor (...) But when tattooed skin undergoes this process, you may be left with red rashes and inflammation. First or second degree skin burns are also possible

But the most surprising health issue when it comes to getting tattoos comes from Gordon himself. In some interviews, Gordon has referred to his tattoos asan addiction’ saying:

You're chasing the high and the euphoria of getting more tattoos, each more outrageous than the last

Also adding:

Where do you go when you reach the top?

Read more:

This is the real reason you should never get a tattoo whilst pregnant

This Girl Put Her Arm In A Hole To Get A Surprise Tattoo And The Result Left Her Speechless


Daily Mail: One of the UK's most tattooed men, 67, has just 3% of his skin left without ink – but vows not to stop until he gets 'total coverage'

Daily Star: 'People call me monster due to my extreme tattoos – wife hates it but I don't care'

Healthline: Can Tattoos Cause Cancer?


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