The Big Stink on Ink: Are tattoos bad for your health?

Princess 19 on 31 Mar 2011 at 12:00am

Recently, the FDA held a seminar regarding the safety and issues of the tattoo industry. There are color additives approved for make-up and food, but did you know ink used to inject tattoos is not approved? State and local health departments only regulate the process of tattooing and their parlors, not the ink. This also includes permanent make-up known as micropigmentation (i.e. permanent eye liner, brows, lips, etc.). 

Lucky Rich most tattooed man Another surprising fact, inks that brag about not using preservatives can be harmful. Removing alcohol in ink and using distilled water instead only creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which can also lead to infection. According to the FDA, a major recall happened in Belgium from a brand called Starbrite Colors because of a severe microbial contamination. Granulomas, keloids, and MRI complications are only some of the things one could get from questionable ink. Because of this, removing a tattoo may only be half the battle.

The FDA notes when making a decision, choose a clean facility, a reputable artist, and always ask about the ink being used. Don’t believe anyone that says their ink has been federally regulated.

“Be your own advocate. Safety is a priority. Understand the risks. A bacterial or a fungal infection is always a possibility,” says Dr. Ranella Hirsch. “Removal is not easy. No therapies are guaranteed effective, but they continue to get better.”

infected tattoo bad inkThere are various reasons people get tattoos. Some do it for love or art, some pay homage to a fallen great or allegiance to a sports team. But, there are many reasons why you should really think about this decision. Lack of government approval is only one of them.

At the end of the day, regardless of the risks, tattooing is as popular as ever. With celebrities such as Jesse James of West Coast Choppers and fiancé, Kat Von D of LA Ink, tattoos are now a mainstream genre. Spike TV just announced a new reality show competition called Inkmasters. It’s a tattoo competition series where the nation's top tattoo artists battle it out for a large cash prize and the title of "Ultimate InkMaster." Judging will be based on the volunteer’s emotional response to the final “work of art.” Hopefully, it won’t be a timed competition and they will have nice sterile needles! 


RealSelf tattoo removal before and after

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