Mary Darlington loves to look at her tattoos. She has a bird and a red flower on her shoulder. "They look great and I think they suit me," she says. "Everybody is fascinated by them.".

At 15, Mary is one of a number of young people who choose to get tattooed. It is fashionable, thanks to celebrities such as Madonna and Cher.

But not everybody is as keen as Mary on this form of decoration.

Dr Glover runs a tattoo-removal clinic in a plastic surgery unit. He emphasises that people should not try to do their own tattoos. "Yo

u can trust a professional tattooist to use sterilised needles, so at least there is no danger of infection."

Dr Glover is seeing more and more patients. "These are people who really regret their tattoos. They may look good with casual clothes when you are in your teens, but you won't get a job in a bank with 'love' and 'hate' tattooed on your knuckles."

Unfortunately, tattoos are difficult and often impossible to get rid of. "They don't just wear out like old clothes," says Brian Cook, now 27. "I've been coming to the clinic for six years and the removal process is very painful. They are the reason why I can't get a job, my marriage is in ruins, and everyone stares at me on the beach."


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