Health department pushes for stricter restrictions on body modifications in Madison County

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ANDERSON, Ind. – The Madison County Health Department is looking to tighten the reins on tattoo parlors across the area.

The department is looking to implement an ordinance restricting tattoo parlors from performing what it classifies as “extreme” body modifications. Those modifications include branding, dermal punctures, skin implants, skin peeling, cutting, and tongue bifurcation (splitting).

“If not done properly, or under medical supervision, there could be a serious risk of infection,” infectious disease coordinator Rebecca Sanders said.

Sanders says if done at all, the procedures should be handled by a medical professional.

“The risk of doing things such as tongue splitting and scarification, it’s not just a simple infection. That could develop into the bloodstream,” she said.

Owners of tattoo parlors in the area say they don’t disagree with the proposed restrictions.

Brian Fischer who owns Studio X Tattoo Company says his parlor doesn’t perform those types of body modifications and doesn’t get many requests. He added that the majority of people who tend to want those types of body modifications usually seek out larger shops like those in Indianapolis.

“I support people having the freedom to do what they like to express themselves with their body. But there’s a lot of health and medical issues to take into consideration,” Fischer said.

Jeff Stacy the owner of NeedlePrixx admitted his shop does perform some body modifications, but he has no problem with the restrictions.

“There’s a lot of people out there who don’t know what they’re doing and they’re trying these things so I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said.

The health department says it could be months before the ordinance is potentially passed. First, they must work with a county attorney to draft the ordinance, which would be presented to the county health board. If the board agrees to the ordinance it would then be presented to county commissioners.

Along with the body modification ordinance, the health department is also looking to change the appeal process for when a business or person is denied a license. Currently, a person that has been denied can request a hearing before the board of health within 15 days of the denial. Sanders says organizing the board in that time frame can often be difficult. The ordinance would also look to provide for temporary licenses to be issued for visiting tattoo artists.

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