MRI safety when one has semi-permanent tattoo is a question since the infamous “Dear Abby” letter back in the 1980’s. An individual with permanent eyeliner had an MRI and felt a “heating up” or burning sensation during the MRI procedure. Is it cause for alarm, or perhaps a reason not to have an MRI if you have tattoos?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging was initially discovered by Felix Block and Edward Purcell in 1946, and both were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952. In the late 70’s, the process began evolving to the technology that people use for diagnosing illnesses in medicine today.
Women and men have decorated themselves for thousands of years through makeup, jewelry, clothing, and traditional and cosmetic tattooing. Procedures such as eyeliner, eyebrows, lips, eye shadow, and cheek blush are normally completed in the U.S. and around the world. Other procedures known as “para-medical tattooing” are done on scars (camouflage) and breast cancers survivors who may have had reconstructive surgery using a nipple “graft” which is lacking in color. In this type of paramedical work, the grafted nipple produced by the surgeon is tattooed an all natural color to fit the healthy breast.
Magnetic resonance imaging is routinely performed, particularly for diagnosing head, neck and brain regions where permanent cosmetics like eyeliner are normally applied. Due to a few reports of burning sensations in the tattooed area during an MRI, some medical technicians have questioned if they should perform MRI procedures on patients with permanent cosmetics.
Dr. Frank G. Shellock has conducted laboratory and clinical investigations in the area of magnetic resonance imaging safety for over 20 years, and it has addressed the concerns noted above. A study was conducted of 135 subjects who underwent MR imaging after having permanent cosmetics applied. Of those, only two individuals (1.5%) experienced problems related to MR imaging. One subject reported a sensation of ‘slight tingling’ and the other subject reported a sensation of ‘burning’, both transient by nature. Based upon Dr. Shellock’s research, traditional tattoos caused more difficulties with burning sensations in the community in the tattoo.
It is interesting to note that a lot of allergic reactions to traditional tattoos commence to occur when a person is exposed to heat, including sun exposure, or time spent in a hot steam room, or jacuzzi tub. Specific ingredients inside the tattoo pigments including cadmium yellow tend to cause irritation in a few individuals. The result is swelling and itching in jjsegy regions of the tattoo. This usually subsides when being exposed to the warmth source ends. In the event the swelling continues, then a topical cream can be obtained from the physician (usually cortizone cream) to help relieve the irritation.
Dr. Shellock recommends that those who have permanent makeup should advise their MRI technician. Because “artifacts” can show up on the results, it is necessary for your healthcare professional to be aware of what is causing the artifacts. These artifacts are predominantly associated with the presence of pigments that use iron oxide or any other type of metal and happen in the immediate section of the tattoo or permanent makeup. Additionally, the technician can give the sufferer a cold compress (a wet wash cloth) to use through the MRI procedure within the rare case of a burning sensation within the tattooed area.
In summary, it is actually clear to view that the benefits of owning an MRI outweigh the slight possibility of a reaction from permanent makeup or traditional tattooing during the MRI. The science and art of permanent makeup goes by many people different names: micropigmentation, permanent cosmetics, derma pigmentation, intradermal cosmetics, dermagraphics and cosmetic tattoos. Because the procedures connected with permanent makeup become more main stream the general public gets to be more conscious of the rewards, particularly for people who suffer from illness, disease, injury or scarring. Within my recent article “Creating a Bridge: Plastic Surgery and Micropigmentation” I explored the connection between cosmetic surgery and permanent makeup. I would personally now like to discuss how permanent makeup can work included in the solution for many different medical conditions.