Medical Tattoo Trend Sparks in Odessa

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - It's not an iron cross, or "I Love Mom", but these tattoos will tell doctors what they need to know. Hooligans Apparel and Tattoos, owned by Jake Isaacs in Odessa, has become the epicenter of a new trend in the Basin.

Medical condition tattoos instead of bracelets.

"The big idea is that a lot of people can't wear the jewelry," Tattoo Artist, Shawn "Bounty" Cherry, said. "So if we can get that out and offer it at a low cost to where they can afford it, then we're going to do whatever we can to help."

Whatever ailments West Texans suffer from can now become permanent messages on their skin.

"Most of the time it's just the classic staff with the snakes which is just the medical alert," Tattoo Artist, Kodak Houston, said. "Kind of let them, kind of choose and design their own. We'll just add font lettering with instructions on the condition."

Hooligans is also making them low-cost.

"Just depending on how elaborate they want to get the design and how big they want it and stuff like that, it'll be as little as nothing to $10, up to $50," Houston said. "We want to do it where they can afford it."

Local doctors told NewsWest 9, these tattoos are something completely new, clashing between a doctor's rules to protect a patient's health information and the private sector.

Still, they said the tattoos could be a guiding light when there's no other information.

"We, many times, are trained to take care of people from scratch, with no information," Dr. Richard Bartlett, Chief Medical Officer at the Basin Health Care Hospital, said. "That does happen. It doesn't hurt to get more information, and of all the types of tattoos, this sounds like it has the potential to be the most useful."

Whether it's diabetes, epileptic seizures, or any allergies they may have, more and more people in the Permian Basin are getting their medical conditions tattooed on their bodies.

Hooligans said more people are asking about them.

"About 10 to 15," Cherry said.

That's just in the last week.

Brian Manchester is the man tattoo artists credit as the inspiration behind the symbols.

"This was actually a birthday present from my fiance," he said. "Me, her, and Kodak were sitting in his office and we said 'You know, this would be a good idea to do.' We were going through and I was like 'It's a shame that they don't have diabetic tattoos.'"

Manchester just found out about his diabetes back in February and said the tattoo was the best option for him.

"I'm one of those people where if I wear jewelry, I will lose it," he said. "If something were to happen and we won't be able to talk, this will say more than a bracelet can."

A doctor's visit is recommended before you get your staff and snakes to make sure a changing condition won't clash with a permanent tattoo.

"You wouldn't want to put something on there that's going to be changing and shifting and no longer accurate and mislead people with misinformation," Bartlett said.

"Come in and talk to us," Cherry said. "Let's discuss the design and discuss the condition, make sure they're healthy, and if they're healthy then we can definitely help them."