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Four health risks of cosmetic tattoos


As beauty trends continue to emerge and evolve, we often hear about certain practices that may seem a bit extreme and over the top, all in the name of achieving a specific look.

For some people maintaining a certain standard of beauty is of the utmost importance to them, irrespective of any possible dangers that may be associated.

There are those who are willing to take any and every measure necessary to be deemed more attractive.


There is a huge misconception that beauty trends and cosmetic procedures are exclusively sought out by women. Both men and women alike sometimes jeopardize their health all in the name of beauty and aesthetics.

Even in Nigeria for example, there are some popular areas of Lagos in which it is not unheard of to find young men who are seeking to change the color of their lips to pink or red by means of tattooing and other unsafe procedures.

Unfortunately, oftentimes the person rendering the service may be highly unqualified and unskilled, leaving the customer at risk for many dangerous health problems.

Cosmetic tattooing (also known as micro-pigmentation or permanent makeup) continues to grow in popularity for so many worldwide. For some people battling issues such as alopecia or other skin conditions, they opt for the procedure to conceal the symptoms of their condition.

It has also become an aesthetic practice that some people turn to in hopes of improving upon their appearance without having to put in the work of daily makeup application.

During the procedure, tattoo needles are used to inject pigment into the dermal layer of the skin. Two very popular regions of the body to etch on color are typically the lips and eyebrows.

The beauty trend is growing amongst some celebrities and the goal for most people is to make those areas of the body permanently appear more full, well shaped, and more attractive.

There are even popular procedures in the US known as scalp micro-pigmentation that uses tattooing techniques as an alternative option for the management of the autoimmune condition alopecia areata. Micro-pigmentation has also been used as a means to mask discoloured patches of skin in those with the skin condition vitiligo.

Over time, these procedures will likely continue to become increasingly more mainstream and find its way into more beauty studios and shops throughout Nigeria.

Nonetheless, it is absolutely essential to be aware of the potential dangers associated with micro-pigmentation practices. If it is something you may be considering, these are some of the possible health risks:


1. Transmission of Infection

The risk of infection poses the greatest health threat to anyone undergoing cosmetic tattooing. If unsterile needles are used, there is always the possibility of infections such as hepatitis or even HIV being transmitted.

It is important to keep in mind the various modes of transmission of such infectious diseases and realize that sexual activity is not the only way these diseases are passed along.

Bacterial infections of the skin with pathogens such as certain strains of staphylococcus and streptococcus are also a possibility if unhygienic practices are being used for tattooing.

2. Granulomatous reaction

Another potential adverse effect is the formation of a granulomatous reaction, whereby inflammatory tissue may begin to develop at the tattoo site.

The body may perceive the injected pigment as a foreign substance and mount a response in the form of nodules and bumps appearing around the area of tattooing.


3. Keloids

Keloids are raised, thick, irregular scar tissue that may develop after an injury like a cut starts healing.

They affect those of African descent at a higher propensity than the rest of the general population.

Someone who tends to frequently develop keloids post injury to the skin, may be at a higher risk for keloid development with cosmetic tattooing. Micro-pigmentation is likely not for you if you have a significant history of keloid development.

4. Problems with reversal

If you end up not liking the outcome of your micro-tattooing, it may be hugely frustrating and arduous to reverse the procedure.

Tattoo reversal doesn’t occur just instantly overnight, as there are many expensive sessions and steps that are usually necessary to aid in removal over time.

Sometimes efforts to remove the tattoo can be unsuccessful even with multiple treatments. Cosmetic tattooing is really a procedure that you must carefully think through before moving forward.

Here is the bottom line: If cosmetic tattooing is something that you are considering, as with any other cosmetic procedure, you must always discuss with your doctor the potential harm that may be lurking.

You should never jeopardize your health in the name of beauty.

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