There is a lot of information available on how to get a safe tattoo. Visit a reputable studio that uses sterile equipment and clean needles; know what is in the ink… and so on. But the question that we don’t know the answer to is the same question that a recent study published last week attempted to answer: What exactly happens to the ink when it enters your body?
This study comes to us from the European Synchotron Radiation Facility in France. The researchers were not seeing the number of people who were getting tattoos decreasing, so they wanted to figure out what happened to the ink after it was injected into the skin.
We have talked about what happens when ink enters your skin before, but here is a recap. Basically, your body treats the ink as a foreign invader and calls up the immune system to attack it. The lymph nodes, glands that fight disease, are what carry out this attack. Lymph nodes actually turn colors after a tattoo session – your body is just fighting very hard to get rid of the ink.
Lymph nodes play a similar role in laser tattoo removal. As the laser passes through the layers of skin, it breaks down the ink into smaller fragments. The fragments, which are considered toxins to the body, are then removed by the immune system.
Beyond getting tinted after a tattoo session, the researchers wanted to learn how exactly the lymph nodes reacted to the ink. They took four corpses with tattooed skin and compared them to two corpses with no tattoos using fluorescent x-rays. They then looked at how the ink traveled to the lymph nodes and what, if anything, remained.
The scientists found that those who had tattoos had more titanium dioxide, something that is commonly found in tattoo ink, in both the skin and the lymph nodes. This is to be expected. What was unexpected is that they found teeny tiny parts of titanium dioxide buried deep in the lymph nodes.
That is slightly concerning. Titanium dioxide is a common chemical found in a variety of substances that, in smaller doses, has not been shown to affect humans. However, there is some evidence out there that shows a link between large doses of titanium dioxide and lung cancer in rats. It is also concerning because the more ink someone has, the more titanium dioxide particles may be deep in their lymph nodes.
While this research is groundbreaking, in that it answers some new questions about ink and where it goes in the body, there still are many more questions to be answered. Scientists don’t yet know what happens to the nano-particles in the lymph nodes – there are a lot of possibilities yet to be explored.
What does this mean for laser tattoo removal? Not a whole lot at this time. Currently there are no links showing any correlation between cancer and laser tattoo removal. Laser tattoo removal remains the best way to remove unwanted ink in the body. Remove a Tattoo is a laser tattoo removal clinic that serves the Greater Milwaukee Area. Call us today at 414-617-2849 for your free consultation!