CDC Study: Permanent Makeup Tattoos Can Have Unsightly and Long Lasting Reactions

By | January 10, 2014

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The results of a 4-year study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirms that permanent makeup tattoos can cause severe health problems in some women. The study found that the goal women have to enhance beauty with permanent makeup could actually cause swelling and bumping. The 2003 study included 92 women with 68% of the study volunteers experiencing a reaction to the procedure anywhere from 5.5 months to three years after the permanent makeup was applied.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began working with the CDC after 150 people reported problems just in the beginning of 2003 alone. Prior to that, the FDA has only five reports of adverse effects from permanent makeup during the years 1988 to 2003. At the beginning of the study, it was found that 89 of the 92 women had been injected with ink from Premier Products in Arlington, Texas, in September of 2004. The product was immediately recalled, and the study continued.

The FDA considers the inks used in intradermal tattoos, or permanent makeup, to be cosmetics. It considers the pigments used in tattoo ink to be color additives that require premarket approval by the FDA. The FDA has not really regulated tattoo inks or the pigments in them because it had no evidence of safety concerns and had other health priorities. Local authorities handle tattoo regulation and permanent makeup technicians in some states do not have to be certified. For more information about the risks involved with permanent makeup and the FDAs suggestions for reducing the risks, CLICK HERE.

There are additional complications that could occur with permanent makeup:

Problems with MRIs
Medical facilities that administer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures must take extra precautions with patients who undergo MRI if they have permanent makeup tattoos. There have been reports from individuals who have experienced swelling or burning around the tattoo ink during the MRI process. Also, reports of tattoo pigments interfering with the quality of the MRI taken around the eyes often occur in women with permanent eyeliner makeup. Patients who have permanent makeup or tattoos should inform the radiologist or x-ray technician in order to avoid painful complications.

These nodules form around areas of material, like tattoo ink, that the body perceives as foreign material.

Keloid Formation
Keloids are scars that grow outside, or beyond, the boundaries of a wound. Although most keloids develop when a tattoo is removed, there is a chance you can develop keloids around the traumatized area of the permanent makeup tattoo when it is applied.

Removal Problems
If you decide to have permanent makeup removed because of allergies to the pigments or any of the other unwanted side effects, the removal can be painful, costly, and risky even with laser removal technology. The attempt to remove permanent makeup may result in scarring for life.

The FDA continues to monitor adverse reactions of tattoos and permanent makeup, problems with the removal of tattoos or permanent makeup, and adverse reactions to temporary tattoos. You can submit a report through the Adverse Events Reporting System on the FDA web site, or by calling 1-301-436-2405. You can also email information to


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