Amid a swirl of rehab rumors, Britney Spears made a shocking public appearance on Friday night, debuting her newly shaved head at a tattoo shop in Sherman Oaks, California.
Spears, who has faced public criticism for her partying ways since divorcing Kevin Federline in November, went to Body and Soul to get a tattoo of red lips on her wrist, tattoo artist Max Gott told Los Angeles' KABC-TV.
"She just wanted something real small on her wrist, something dainty," Gott told the station. "She got some cute little lips on her wrist."
Police came to the scene to manage the large crowd that gathered outside the shop as Spears got her ink.
Britney's appearance came on the same day that reports surfaced claiming the singer briefly entered a rehab clinic earlier this week.
Although her spokespeople have yet to chime in, and "Access Hollywood" cited a source close to Spears denying it, several outlets (initiated by "Extra") claim that Spears checked into a treatment facility in the Caribbean on Wednesday. People and TMZ.com reported that she checked out a day later.
People reported that Spears was treated at the Crossroads Centre, a facility on the Caribbean island of Antigua founded by Eric Clapton. ("Crossroads," of course, is also the name of Britney's only theatrical release.)
Spears was reportedly last seen leaving New York on Monday on a private plane heading for Miami, accompanied by her two young sons, Jayden James and Sean Preston. She returned to Los Angeles on Friday, according to a source close to the family.
In recent months, the singer has frequently been photographed at clubs across the country, often in a disheveled state and in and in scant attire (see "Britney Tells Fans 'I Get It ... I Know I've Been Far From Perfect' " and "Britney Speaks: 'Thank God For Victoria's Secret's New Underwear!' "). Although she has not recently been seen in the company of Paris Hilton, Spears continued to hit the scene with producer J.R. Rotem, Isaac Cohen and others following her divorce (see "Kevin Responds To Britney's Divorce Filing: He's Going To Fight"), leading Felicia Culotta, her longtime personal assistant, to express that she hoped the singer would seek help.
"I cannot save her from herself," Culotta wrote this week in a letter to longtime Spears fan site webmaster Ruben Garay, "nor can I commit her to any type of treatment program against her wishes and will."
Spears' former boyfriend Justin Timberlake weighed in at the Brit Awards on Wednesday night, saying during a videotaped award-acceptance speech: "Stop drinking. You know who you are. I'm speaking to you. You are going to get sloppy. OK! magazine is going to say something bad about you."
[This story was originally published at 7:13 p.m. ET on 02.16.2007]