How Safe Are Tattoos In The Long Term??

21inkedd in Guides

Tattooing is something not to be taken lightly, forever changing your body by having a tattoo, foreign substance placed under your skin.

The effects of a tattoo are usually rather minimal, for the first few weeks it can be a little red, sore and occasionally painful- these however are only the short term effects, but what about the long term effects of a tattoo?? How much do you really know about what your tattoo will be like in 60 years??
For the most part health regulations and advice surrounding tattooing focuses on the well documented short term risks and reactions like redness, soreness, the chance of infection etc. but little is known/documented about the long term effects of a tattoo and ink in the human body. This issue has recently been raised by a review of tattooing by medical journal The Lancet. 'A Medical-Toxicological View of Tattooing' was published on July 23 2015 and aimed to shed light on some of the long term risks associated with different compounds and chemicals found in contemporary tattoo inks!

There are more color choices than ever, but what are their risks?
There are more color choices than ever, but what are their risks?

One of the authors of the review, Dr. Andreas Luch, shed further light on the concerns for long term tattoo risks; "Almost everybody these days has a tattoo, and nobody is talking about the side effects of ink deposits. There is no proof that these ink ingredients are safe, being injected into the body”. 

It is already well documented that one in five percent of those tattooed suffer some form of adverse reaction, though considering that in the Western world an estimated 120 million people have tattoos it is no surprise that not everyone reacts the same, however those reactions are short-term, the longer-term ones are what is still open for debate. It is largely unknown what happens to a tattoo decades after it is done, is all the ink still in the same place or has it spread to other areas of the body. Well according to the report examination of deceased individuals with decades old tattoos showed that in some cases up to 90% of the ink had disappeared from the skin where the tattoo originally was!!

One of the authors of the review, Dr. Andreas Luch
One of the authors of the review, Dr. Andreas Luch

“We cannot answer the question what is going to happen with these inks”

For Dr. Luch's the unknown long-term risks of tattooing is a major medical problem, organ toxicity and cancer are yet to be disproved as tattoo related reactions and could well be a long term effect of a tattoo. Quite simply what will happen to the ink over the rest of someones life is an unanswered question!! Dr. Luch's has suggested tighter regulations be placed around certain tattoo inks and people be made aware that certain inks have a higher chance of reactions. He has also called for more research into long term tattoo effects to be carried out!

While the review is by no means a reason to not get tattooed it does bring to light certain areas of tattooing that still remain a mystery and draws attention to the potential risks of some inks used and the unknown effects they may have! Still, seeing dozens of healthy elderly people sporting decades old tattoos is enough for my mind to rest easy!!

You can read more here!!

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21inkedd

@Robert Davies

Tattoodo Staff Writer and tattoo enthusiast. Lover of all things traditional and blackwork!

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