Cosmetic tattooing has grown in popularity over the last couple of decades as women realize that a couple hours of pain and discomfort can provide years of convenience.
There are lots of things to like about permanent makeup: It's a great alternative for those that can't wear cosmetics due to allergies or skin sensitivities; it won't sweat off on hot, active days; and it won't rinse off while swimming. In addition, there's no need to reapply it and it saves time in the mornings and allows you to wake up with a fresh face of makeup every day. It's also an option for those with motor impairments like arthritis or unsteady hands. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. The procedure carries some risks. Here's what you need to know about what they are and what precautions you can take to minimize or eliminate them.
Risk #1: Allergic reactions -- Although experts say allergic reactions are extremely rare, they happen occasionally. What's worse: symptoms can come on unexpectedly, sometimes years afterward. In addition to rashes, some people experience granulomas (masses that form under the skin around a foreign substance such as ink) and keloids (raised scar tissue). Experts at WebMD.com say to make sure your practitioner is using iron oxide inks as opposed to natural or vegetable-based inks which are more likely to cause reactions.
Risk #2: Infection -- Tattoos, including permanent makeup, are associated with hepatitis and other serious infections. This risk is relatively minor, however, and can be eliminated by making sure that your practitioner is using a new, unused needle and new ink. Experts also say it's important to make sure the facility is clean and sterile and that your practitioner has a neat, tidy appearance. Do your homework to make sure that the practitioner has had adequate training and experience -- there is little to no regulation over this industry in most states.
Risk #3: MRI complications -- Some people report pain and discomfort when undergoing an MRI scan. This is due to an interaction between the pigment of the tattoo and the magnetic field of the MRI. Charles S. Zwerling, M.D., chairman of the American Academy of Micropigmentation, tells WebMD that an MRI can cause some mild inflammation for those with tattooing but says that it can easily be controlled with a topical steroid cream. It's important, however, to tell your radiologist about any tattoos and/or permanent makeup that you have to ensure that images are read correctly.
Risk #4: Fading color -- Be prepared to pay for upkeep because all tattoos fade over time. Experts say that the amount of fading varies from one person to the next but most experience a significant amount each year.
Risk #5: Disappointing results -- Zwerling says that disappointing results are the biggest risk associated with permanent makeup. He says, "Get it right the first time because the chance of getting it right the second time is complicated, and it gets progressively more complicated after that." To ensure the best results, experts say to shop around. Look for a practitioner with lots of experience and ask to speak face-to-face with some of his/her clients. You can also ask friends, family and medical providers for referrals.