Unfortunately, no statistics seem to exist to help inform those interested in tattoos exactly what the risks are. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) currently list a number of potential risks for those who choose to get tattoos, no government organisation has any numbers published to document those risks.
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The risk for infection is unclear. People with diabetes or diseases that affect their immune system appear to be at higher risk. Keeping the area clean should help avoid infection, but is not a guarantee.
While the FDA notes that it has not approved any inks that are used for tattooing for use on humans, it also does not keep a record of allergic reactions. It has been noted that some inks have a higher risk - such as red and yellow - due to their components, but no statistics exist. Part of the problem is that allergic reactions can happen up to years after the actual tattoo is applied, so keeping track of those who suffer a reaction is difficult.
Granulomas are raised bumps that occur as a reaction to skin damage. They can form from tattoos as the tattoo process injures the skin. There are no reported numbers as to how many people suffer from granulomas as a result of tattooing.
Keloids are simply excessive scars that seem to grow beyond what is expected. Some people are more prone to them than others. If you have a tendency to grow keloids, tattooing will put you at risk. Again, however, no numbers exist as to how many people suffer from this side effect.
Although some people are concerned about potential MRI complications, there have not been enough noted to compile any definitive record. It is noted, though, that permanent make-up tattooing--in particular eye liner--has become irritated after an MRI in several cases.
Tattooing does involve blood when the needle pierces the skin, but as of 2009, there are no recorded cases of HIV transmission through tattooing.
Even the Red Cross is concerned with the risk of hepatitis being transmitted through a tattoo. However, the CDC's latest numbers from 1996 show that only .8% of cases (12 out of 13,387) appear to be related to tattooing.
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