There was a time when tattooing was considered an alternative culture. Nowadays, we can witness the gradual acceptance of tattoos and heavily tattooed bodies in the media, society, professional domains, etc. Studies reveal that the tattoo industry is inflating by leaps and bounds, with its global value escalating to 3 billion USD in 2021.
Consequently, the advancements in the tattoo industry in terms of the dexterity of the tattoo artists, instrument quality, and design complications have also reached novel heights. Thus, it would not be erroneous to say that this centuries-old art form’s influence is only going to swell in the near future.
Having talked about the prowess of the tattoo industry, it is essential to shedding light on the other side of the spectrum – that is, the risk associated with tattooing. After years of practice, tattoo artists ultimately feel at ease with the equipment after reaching a certain degree of proficiency.
For tattoo artists, health complications and what could go wrong when a client is tattooed are integral aspects of the job. One looming hazard that deserves more scrutiny and attention is the phenomenon of ‘tattooed veins.’ If you are wondering what happens when tattoo ink enters the human body, read ahead.
What is Tattoo Ink?
Although the tattoo industry is one of America’s fastest-growing sectors, tattoo ink and its components are not under the purview of the FDA. Thus, the secrecy involved in the recipe of tattoo ink has multi-faceted consequences.
Firstly, confidentiality helps talented tattoo artists guard their unique concoctions and use them specifically for their clients. However, on the flip side, the non-regulation by FDA also means that no one really what goes into the making of tattoo inks, which can have dangerous repercussions.
Nevertheless, tattoo ink has some ubiquitous components – the carrier fluid and the black pigment. Black inks are typically made of carbon, whereas some modern inks co-opt heavy metals for the incredible saturation you see on the tattoos of your favorite celebrities’ arms. Some of the typical heavy metals found in tattoo inks include:
Thus, it is evident that the aforementioned heavy metals can be dangerous for the health and well-being of a person. However, many myths also abound about tattooing. Hence, it is crucial to sieve facts from fiction.
How Does Tattoo Ink Get into the Veins
- Hundreds and thousands of needle pricks are required by the tattoo artist in order to make a tattoo long-lasting. Aiming for the dermis, the layer of skin below the epidermis, short and sharp punches are used. A minute amount of ink is pulled to the skin with each microscopic penetration. Tattoo ink can get into a person’s veins since the dermis includes numerous blood vessels and chains. A cascade of events could occur if veins are tattooed over.
- According to the latest research, after being deposited in the veins, the inks begin their journey slowly and steadily. The tattoo ink injected into the skin might move to the bloodstream via the lymphatic system. It’s important to be concerned even if the particles don’t all make it into the bloodstream.
- The body’s immune system breaks down some of the ink that seeps into the bloodstream. On average, the small amount of tattoo ink that reaches the bloodstream remains there for 2-4 weeks. Likewise, some tattoo ink is trapped within skin cells called fibroblasts and macrophages.
Vein Tattoos – A Crisp Overview
Before dovetailing into the health implications of ‘tattooed veins,’ let us gauge the phenomenon of vein tattoos first. As the name suggests, vein tattoos are a form of body art performed on a person’s veins. Health specialists opine that the risk of infection is always a little higher when it comes to tattooing on veins vis-à-vis regular tattoos. Furthermore, the situation may get worse if a person has varicose veins.
However, it is noteworthy to mention that it is almost impossible not to tattoo over some blood veins. If you are getting on your arm, neck, hand, or foot, the chances are that some veins will come in the way of the tattoo design.
Health Risks of Tattoo Ink on Veins
There are tangible health hazards of tattoo ink seeping into the veins. Although the hazard is not upfront, if the person has an allergy to one of the ingredients present in the tattoo ink, then things might turn sour. The culmination of ink percolating into your veins is known as tattoo poisoning, and it has the following symptoms:
- Labored breathing
- Red and puffy skin
- Altered mental status
It’s important to keep in mind that the body uses special repair cells called macrophages to remove part of the percolated tattoo ink. When your body is unable to break down the ink particles, they get lodged in your lymph nodes and spread throughout your body.
Additionally, the lymph nodes can alter the color to match the color of your tattoo because of this deposition. There is evidence to support the theory that these particles of tattoo can pass through the blood and become lodged in the liver.
Things to Consider Before Getting A Tattoo
Whether you are thinking of getting a vein tattoo or a simple tattoo, there are some complications that you should consider as a possibility.
- Weight fluctuations and blood circulations can cause the veins to shift or bulge, changing the appearance of the tattoo over the vein line.
- Even if your tattoo is on a relatively risk-free area of the body, some complications like infections and allergies are always a possibility.
- It would be best to choose a reputable and trustworthy tattoo studio with stringent health and safety protocols to keep ink poisoning at bay.
- If you have symptomatic varicose veins, remember to check with a doctor prior to getting a tattoo.
In conclusion, the phenomenon of tattooed veins is not overtly dangerous, but the underlying hazards are ever-present. The key takeaway is that the studies conducted on the health adversities of tattoos are minimal, and no clear-cut connection has yet been established between poor human health and a higher number of tattoos.
Therefore, it is crucial to be vigilant and do the proper research before getting a tattoo, and also stay away from myths and false news circulating.
FAQs About Tattoo Veins
1. When Do I See a Doctor for My Tattoo?
To begin with, it is absolutely normal to feel some burning sensation and soreness for a week or so after you get a tattoo. However, if you start getting fevers or your tattoo swells or ooze pus, you should immediately consult a doctor. You could be inflicted with a tattoo or ink infection, of which some symptoms are:
- The tattoo pain worsens
- You get a rash
- Fluids begin oozing from the tattoo
2. Is It Dangerous to Get a Tattoo?
Most research on the health hazards of getting tattoos has been done on mice. Therefore, the scientific community may take a few years to determine the severity of a tattoo’s health risks. However, current evidence does suggest that deposition of particles from tattoo inks into the veins can lead to the enlargement of lymph nodes and some blood clotting.
3. How Do I Take Care of My Tattoos?
Ans. There are several ways to take care of your tattoo and keep infection at bay. The first thing you can do is cover your tattoo up once it is complete and keep it that way for a while. Likewise, you should gently wash your tattoos and keep them clean.