With Every Tattoo Comes Health Risks and They’re Not Pretty or Cool

With Every Tattoo Comes Health Risks and They’re Not Pretty or Cool

Posted by Linda Ly, M.D. on Sep 23, 2015, 1:00:00 PM

Tattoos have grown increasingly popular and are not uncommon among my patients. I’ve seen everything from a little heart or butterfly hidden on the inside of an ankle to body art that covers nearly every inch of skin. I read somewhere that 1 in 5 adults has a tattoo and 40 percent of millennials have at least one. To tat or not to tat is a personal decision. Just don’t go into it blindly. Before you put yourself into the hands of a tattoo artist, there are some health considerations you should think about.

Needles Puncture the Skin


Getting a tattoo involves the use of a hand-held machine with needles that puncture the skin and insert ink droplets. This opens the door to any of several potential health risks

  • Unsterilized tools and contaminated ink.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Infection.
  • Scarring.
  • Granulomas or bumps.
  • Tetanus, HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Tattoos can also hinder the early detection of skin cancer, including melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. And, in some cases, tattoos can interfere with the quality of an MRI reading.



Regret Eventually Sets In

You know what’s as popular as getting a tattoo? Getting them removed! According to research, spending on tattoo removal is expected to hit $83.2 million in 2018. The cost ranges anywhere from $500 on up – so it’s not cheap.

Do Your Homework

If you do decided to get that hummingbird tattoo you’ve always wanted, then please, please, please check out the tattooing studio where you’re going to have it done. Make sure it’s reputable and properly licensed and uses an autoclave to sterilize equipment. Also be sure the tattoo artist takes needles from sealed packages before using them on you, washes their hands and wears gloves at all times during the procedure.

Do you have a tattoo? Does it have any particular meaning or significance? Do share! 


Ly_LindaLinda Ly, M.D., is a Family Medicine physician who cares for patients at Meyerland Plaza Clinic.  Her clinical interests include preventive medicine, hypertension and diabetes.

Topics: tattoo, tats, tattoo risks, tattoos, tattoo removal

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