Nature did not intend that you put those colors there!


Oh, my. Some researchers have discovered that pigments in tattoo inks can, over the years, wander out of the tattoo into places like lymph nodes. They have not, however, identified any danger or harm from this phenomenon. All I can muster is a weary, “So?”. This shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Next up: scientists will discover that the skin texture under your tattoo will change with age, that the shape of your body can distort the shape of your tattoos, and most horrifyingly, that people with tattoos have pigmented inks permanently discoloring their skin!

Comments

  1. tmink128 says

    I have two tattoos now. My wife actually talked me into my first one. She said we get scars from injuries that stay with us for life, why not choose something meaningful to stay there too? Sure it’ll change and age, but so does untattooed skin.

  2. blf says

    I don’t have any tattoos myself

    What about yer ink sac and changing skin colours / patterns camouflage capabilities? Not a traditional tattoo, perhaps, but “tattoo mark II”.

  3. keithb says

    About the turn of the century, we were told that epidurals were not recommended for folks with tattoos there since the needle might carry the ink into the spinal column. I assume that this issue has been resolved by now.

  4. chris61 says

    Not totally harmless though. Pigmented and/or inflamed lymph nodes can indicate cancer which requires their biopsy and possibly other medical tests to ensure they aren’t cancerous. The removal of the lymph nodes can cause lymphodema, a painful albeit non life threatening accumulation of fluid in the arms or legs.

  5. marinerachel says

    When you have laser tattoo removal, all the ink, liberated from the dermis, is eventually pooped out. I imagine turds with unwanted tattoos on them.

    That ink might sneak out and find its way into lymphnodes out side of laser removal doesn’t surprise me.

  6. tbp1 says

    There’s the old joke about the rosebud tattoo of your youth turning into the long-stemmed rose of your old age.

    Seriously, though, the inks are loaded with heavy metals and improperly sanitized equipment can spread all kinds of nasty diseases. Some epidemiologists think tattoos are a major factor in the spread of Hep C.

    And apparently in some cases the inks can interfere with the results of an MRI, and/or heat up painfully and dangerously.

  7. says

    I have one tattoo. It’s of Tux (the Linux penguin) and it’s on my right arm, just above the line of a T-shirt sleeve.

    I’m just biding t until I get the opportunity to show it to a Microsoft sales rep …..

  8. says

    What’s really nasty is when your tattooist saves a few $ on ink, or doesn’t ask you whether you tend to have allergies. I know someone who was pretty sensitive (hint: tattoos maybe not your thing!) and developed a long-term allergy to a particular red that he had lots of.

    Laser tattoo removal blows the particles up so they’re small enough to move out and get cleaned up by the body’s natural healing mechanism. If you’ve got allergies to the ink, that just makes it much worse. So, ink allergy means: go directly to skin grafts, to not pass Go, pay a lotta dollars.

  9. says

    @ 10:

    And apparently in some cases the inks can interfere with the results of an MRI, and/or heat up painfully and dangerously.

    I’m in and out of an MRI all the bloody time, and I have more than one tattoo. Not one single time has my ink interfered with results, and there’s never been the slightest sensation related to those areas of my skin. Not one single time has a tech said one thing about ink, just the usual pointing to the dish for all your metal. Tattoos are just fine when it comes to cat scans, too.

    Seriously, though, the inks are loaded with heavy metals and improperly sanitized equipment can spread all kinds of nasty diseases. Some epidemiologists think tattoos are a major factor in the spread of Hep C.

    What fucking century do you think this is? Reputable tattoo artists are stringently scrupulous when it comes to cleanliness and their equipment. It does not benefit them if they are making their clientele ill. If you let some guy you met in a bar ink you up, that’s on you.

  10. says

    tbp1 #10:

    Seriously, though, the inks are loaded with heavy metals and improperly sanitized equipment can spread all kinds of nasty diseases. Some epidemiologists think tattoos are a major factor in the spread of Hep C.

    This is not an argument against tattoos. It’s an argument for effective health and safety regulation.

  11. jefrir says

    Seriously, though, the inks are loaded with heavy metals and improperly sanitized equipment can spread all kinds of nasty diseases. Some epidemiologists think tattoos are a major factor in the spread of Hep C.

    And apparently in some cases the inks can interfere with the results of an MRI, and/or heat up painfully and dangerously.

    These can be issues with prison tattoos and similar. They are not an issue with reputable tattooists using proper inks.

  12. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Myth busters demonstrated a case of a metallic silvery tattoo in an MRI . The myth was it would be ripped out of the skin. The subject felt a little heat that was essentially mere sensation not painful or burning heat sensation. They concluded “Busted. Best avoided also”
    FWIW anectdotally

  13. blf says

    Caine@10, paraphrasing, “I don’t have a problem therefore no-one has a problem.” Um, no. Just no. As in NO. By that logic, a claim that flying saucers contain aliens from another Universe must be true.

  14. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    And re: Hep C: which is it? Are all tattoo artists reputable, or are there some sketchy ones?

    Which is it? Are all tattoo artists sketchy or are there some reputable ones?

  15. chrislawson says

    Jeepers, people, give Caine a break.

    The original story was a spectacularly overblown beat-up about a trivial finding by appealing to prejudice against tattoos. The original research only found that tattoo pigment can make its way into regional lymph nodes. This is completely and utterly unsurprising. That’s what the lymphatic system does. I would have been more surprised if the finding had been negative.

    The implication that this is somehow a potential cancer risk is completely unsupported by the research paper. Also, the study had a total sample size of five cadavers — four with tattoos and a single tattoo-less control.

    This is not a criticism of the authors or their paper — it is valuable science to check things that we think are true but haven’t been tested. And all of the limitations I’ve mentioned of the study were openly acknowledged in the paper itself. It was unethical secondary reporting that turned it into a media crapfest.

    And as for that MRI paper that came up — this was a single case report that led the authors to search the literature where they found a total of five more reported cases. This was in 2011, long after MRI had become a common procedure. So it is clearly not a huge medical concern. Especially when you read that every single case reported made a full and complete recovery without intervention and the recommended strategy to deal with this problem was to place a damp towel on any potentially ferromagnetic tattoos to cool them during the MRI. What a huge public health problem!

    And as for tbp1’s post, here is the conclusion of the best epidemiological study on the risk of hep C from tattooing (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4411590/): “Studies that specified the venue of tattooing and/or piercing showed no definitive evidence for an increased risk of HCV infection when tattoos and piercings were received in professional parlors. However, the risk of HCV infection is significant, especially among high-risk groups (adjusted odds ratio, 2.0–3.6), when tattoos are applied in prison settings or by friends.”

    And no, I don’t have a tattoo, and yes there are potentially serious risks (esp. hep B+C) if the tattooist doesn’t use proper sterilisation techniques. But you know, I get heartily sick of seeing minor health findings being blown up in the media, especially when they tie in with regressive prejudices.

Leave a Reply