Tattoo: Some Risks and Complications

Tattoo:  Some Risks and Complications

Hello Ladies!

There have been quite a few articles on IMBB regarding tattoos such as places to get them, how you should get them, etc. Today, I’m going to write about a very important topic that a lot of people (including tattoo artists that I have personally met) have no idea about – the health risks of getting an MRI scan with a tattoo. Let me start off by saying that I, myself, have tattoos and after reading up on the same, I have been over thinking A LOT. This is when I decided I should create awareness about the health risks of getting inked and what better way than to post an article here! Note that this is a slightly longer article than my usual reviews and may take a few more minutes of your time 🙂

Tattoo Some Risks and Complications

What is an MRI Scan?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, in simple words, is basically a type of body scan in which extremely strong magnets and high-radio frequency pulses are used to visualize internal structures of the human body in detail.

MRI Scanning Machine

How Can Tattoos Interfere with MRI Scans?

Every tattoo has a very tiny percentage of metal in the ink in order for it to stay under the skin. Sometimes, certain inks can have a higher percentage of metal. During an MRI scan, the powerful magnetic force pulls any metal in the human body towards it. People who have any metal objects in their body such as implants (dental or otherwise), pacemakers or even metal fragments are not allowed to get an MRI scan done and this involves tattoos as well.

During an MRI scan, the metal fragments in a tattoo are pulled by the magnetic force and the patient may suffer from silent discomfort or a burning sensation in the tattooed area and even if there is no pain at all, these fragments can cause “artifacts,” which is the technical term used for distortions in MRI scans. Since metals conduct electricity, the tattoo also tends to get heated up during such a scan. In very rare cases, 1st and 2nd degree burns have been reported, but this is only in tattoos 20 years ago.

cherry blossom tattoo

Tattoos may contain compounds of iron oxide that have magnetic properties. Iron oxide is more likely to be a component of older ink, from tattoos that are 20+ years old from the current day tattoos. It is less likely that newer/recent tattoos may contain this type of ink but you can’t always be sure about such things. The newer inks do not contain higher components of metal. The other components in tattoos are namely -carbon (black), titanium dioxide (white), copper phthalocyanine (blue, green), and indigoid (red). These do not contain metallic components and therefore do not have magnetic properties.

What should you do if you have a tattoo and need an MRI scan?

Speak to your doctor before getting the MRI and speak to the MRI technician as well. After all of that, if you still need to get the MRI done, keep the communication with the MRI technician on and inform him about any tiny tingling sensation before the tattoo starts to heat up during the MRI scan.


What should you do before getting inked?

  • Ask your tattoo artist if the ink used has iron oxide in it. Try to avoid using ink with iron oxide in it in general.
  • Ask your tattoo artist to brief you on the components of the ink and take a note. Do your homework on the same.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please share this with your family and friends and create awareness about the same.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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6 thoughts on “Tattoo: Some Risks and Complications

  1. Thank you so much Preiti for this very informative post. I am sure those who want to get a tattoo would first inquire with their tattoo artists about this aspect after reading this post 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading it, Jo!! 🙂
      I’m getting another tattoo in a few days. Inquired about the whole ink used with my tattoo artist. I felt so smart haha. 😛

  2. Thanks a lot for this article Preiti… I am about to get tatto next month …Will inquire about this first 🙂 Thanks again

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