Podcast #269: Tattoo Ink Complications - The Emergency Medical Minute

Author: Michael Hunt, M.D.

Educational Pearls

  • Tattoo ink is applied below the skin, and because of this, they can lead to keloids, granulomas, tetanus, hepatitis B and C,  and skin infections.
  • Tattoo pigment has been found to contain substances like lead, cadmium, chromium, and arsenic; however, there are no long-term studies of the health effects of tattoos.
  • In one study 14% of inks had ingredients that were banned in cosmetics.
  • Nanoparticles of tattoo pigment can be found in the lymph nodes, and laser removal can precipitate their spread.
  • Those with tattoos could experience complications with MRI because of the metal content of the ink.

References: Khunger N, Molpariya A, Khunger A. Complications of Tattoos and Tattoo Removal: Stop and Think Before you ink. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 2015;8(1):30-36. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.155072.

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