When medical tattooing doesn’t go as expected
It’s disappointing when medical tattooing doesn’t go to plan. When you’ve paid money, raised your expectations and gone ahead with the intended treatment plan, but the treatment doesn’t go as expected. This may have been explained to you in the consultation, there are always risks and possible side effects, but you don’t really expect them to happen to you.
What are the risks of Medical Tattooing?
- Hyper-pigmentation. This is a risk that means the area which is paler than the surrounding skin such as a scar or hypo-pigmentation, may end up darker than the surrounding skin. Not because of the pigment that has been implanted, but because the needle has stimulated your own melanin, increasing its intensity causing darker areas of colour. This cannot be changed with adding more pigment. The more you stimulate this area, the greater the risk of causing more hyper-pigmentation. The best thing to do in this case is to “DO NOTHING”. Time can be the best healer. Hyper-pigmentation can lessen in intensity with time depending on each individual. The way to lessen this risk even further is to have a Patch Test and Colour Analysis on a small area. If this area doesn’t hyper-pigment you can progress to a treatment. It doesn’t guarantee you will not hyper-pigment after the treatment but it does lower the risk. If you do hyper-pigment in the Patch test, you will be advised not to go ahead with Medical Tattooing. To look after an area of hyper-pigmentation you need to wear Sun Protection SPF50 over the area of concern at all times when you are outside. This stops the UV rays stimulating the melanin even more, causing another increase.
- Lack of Colour Retention. This is a risk but more so to people that have an auto immune disorder, such as Vitiligo and Alopecia. The immune system is working over time, processing and getting rid of either your hair (Alopecia)or your melanin (Vitiligo). The immune system is the way of getting rid of foreign bodies. The pigment inserted from medical tattooing is foreign to the system so the immune response is stimulated and starts to process the pigment, removing it over time. When the immune system is working overtime due to some medications, vitiligo, alopecia or just a very active immune system, the pigment retention can be minimal. This can be a disappointment for patients who have expectations for a solution.
- Infection. There is a risk of infection any time you pierce the skin. This is due to bacteria entering the wound before it has time to produce its own natural barrier, a scab. Sometimes it will be necessary to have a dressing over the wound for the first 48 hours, other times it is fine to keep a balm over the area until it forms the scab. Following the aftercare is imperative to keeping the area as clean and healthy as possible. The less it is touched, the better. The first 48 hours are the most important and there is to be no water, steam, sweat or dirt near the area. After 48 hours you can continue to wash as normal but still need to apply the balm given to you by your practitioner for 5 days.
The consultation is such an important part of the treatment because this is where the risks are explained to you. Your medical history will be looked at, any areas of contraindication will be noted, and any areas of risks mentioned. You need a practitioner that aligns their expectations alongside yours and doesn’t promise you the earth. Medical Tattooing is a great tool for reducing the impact of visible differences, but it isn’t magic and it doesn’t make things disappear, and it does come with minor risks.