by Lisa Aubry, Loma Linda University Health News, courtesy Adventist Review
Loma Linda University Health recently launched a tattoo removal program to help people efface visible gang-related or anti-social tattoos. The program is part of an endeavor to curb violence associated with gangs for which the Inland Empire region in southern California, United States, holds a reputation.
Sigrid Burruss, a trauma surgeon at Loma Linda University Health, said that lately she has seen more violently injured patients under her care — especially from gang-affiliated altercations. She founded the tattoo removal program with the support of Juan Carlos Belliard and the Institute for Community Partnerships, to approach the issue from a specific angle: removing patients’ stigmatizing tattoos could help them de-identify as gang members and avoid remaining the targets of repeated assault.
“Trauma teams at the hospital don’t want to see our trauma patients come back from reinjury,” she said. “In addition to fixing up patients in the hospital, we also want to try to address the reasons why they were injured or harmed to begin with.”
Burruss said tattoos are more than ink on our skin; they have the power to signify identity, ideology, and affiliation. Removing gang-related or anti-social tattoos visible on the face, head, neck, or hands can help people protect themselves and embody the self-image they wish to project to the world.