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'Memorial' tattoos with cremation ashes more popular

6:52 PM, Apr 28, 2011   |    comments
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WICKLIFFE -- The idea might be morbid to some people but others consider it the ultimate way to honor a lost loved one.

Today, more people are taking cremation ashes, known as cremains, and having them put into a permanent memorial tattoo.

Travis Green wears a vile around his neck, that contains a small amount of his father's ashes. But Travis decided that he wants his late father closer.

In fact, it was something the two talked about even before his father's death.

"I brought this up to him once a long time ago, yeah, if you ever die, I will get you tattooed in me, so here I am," Travis says. 

The practice -- called "commemorative or ritual tattoos" -- isn't new but it is gaining in popularity, says Bob Johnson of Finest Lines in Wickliffe.

He's been doing it for 30 years and says he's never had any complications with clients.

"We do it quite a bit. It's something we've done for a long time." he says. He adds that the amount of ashes used is microscopic.

"The preparation is different but it's the same way we would do any tattoo. We sterilize them first in an autoclave as we would the rest of the equipment, and them make sure it's fine powder and mix it with the ink." Bob says.

Tattooing laws and guidelines vary from state to state.

Ohio laws don't address the practice directly, but are clear on sterilization and sanitation procedures. Proponents say the ash is made sterile and poses no health risk.

But medical professionals caution that, any time you put a foreign substance in your body, you run the risk of problems ranging from rejection to infection.

Travis Green isn't worried, but rather relieved that now he will always carry a part of his father with him wherever he goes.

WKYC-TV

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