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The following are the primary complications that can result from tatooing:

Infection:  Usterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus ("staph") bacteria. Tattoos received at facilities not regulated by your state or at facilities that use unsterile equipment (or re-use ink) may prevent you from being accepted as a blood or plasma donor for twelve months.

Removal problems:  Despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo is a painstaking process, usually involving several treatments and codiderable espense. Complete removal without scarring my be impossible.

Allergic Reactions:  Although FDA has received reports of numerous adverse reactions associated with certain shades of ink in permanent makeup, marketed by a particular manufacturer, reports of allergic reactions to tattoo pigments have been rare. However, when they happen they may be particularly troublesome because the pigments can be hard to remove. Occasionally, people may develop an allergic reaction to tattoos they have had for years.

To date, FDA has been made aware of more than 50 adverse events and is investigating additional reports sent to the manufacturer. Reactions that have been reported include swelling, cracking, peeling, blistering, and scarring as well as formation of granulomas (chronically inflamed tissue mass associated with an infection) in the areas of the eyes and lips. In some cases, the effects reported caused serious disfigurement, resulting in difficulty in eating and talking.

Granulomas:  These are nodules that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment.

Keloid Formation:  If you are prone to developing keloids -- scars that grow beyond normal boundaries -- you are at risk of keloid formation from a tattoo. Keloids may form any time you injure or traumatize your skin. Micropigmentation: State of the Art, a book written by Charles Zwerling, M.D., Annette Walker, R.N., and Norman Goldstein, M.D., states that keloids occur more frequently as a consequence of tattoo removal.

MRI complications:  There have been reports of people with tattoos or permanent makeup who experienced swelling or burning in the affected areas when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This seems to occur only rarely and apparently without lasting effects.

There also have been reports of tattoo pigments interfering with the quality of the image. This seems to occur mainly when a person with permanent eyeliner undergoes MRI of the eyes. Mascara may produce a similar effect. The difference is that mascara is easily removable.

The cause of these complications is uncertain. Some have theorized that they result from an interaction with the metallic components of some pigments.

However, the risks of avoiding an MRI when your doctor has recommended one are likely to be much greater than the risks of complications from an interaction between the MRI and tattoo or permanent makeup. Instead of avoiding an MRI, individuals who have tattoos or permanent makeup should inform the radiologist or technician of this fact in order to take appropriate precautions and avoid complications.

A Common Problem: Dissatisfaction:  A common problem that may develop with tattoos is the desire to remove them. Removing tattoos and permanent cosmetics can be very difficult. Although tattoos may be satisfactory at first, they sometimes fade. Also, if the tattooist injects the pigments too deeply into the skin, the pigments may migrate beyond the original sites, resulting in a blurred appearance.

Another cause of dissatisfaction is that the human body changes over time, and styles change with the season. The permanent makeup that may have looked flattering when first injected may later clash with changing skin tones and facial or body contours. People who plan to have facial cosmetic surgery are advised that the appearance of their permanent makeup may become distorted. The tattoo that seemed stylish at first may become dated and embarrassing. And changing tattoos or permanent makeup is not as easy as changing your mind.

Consult your healthcare provider about the best removal techniques for you.

Reporting Adverse Reactions:  FDA urges consumers and healthcare providers to report adverse reactions to tattoos and permanent cosmetics/makeup, problems with removal, or adverse reactions to temporary tattoos. Consumers and healthcare providers can register complaints by contacting their FDA district office (see the blue pages of your local phone directory) or by contacting FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Adverse Events Reporting System (CAERS) by phone at (301) 436-2405 or by email at CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov.

**Information from http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/

 
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