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Is It True That Tattoos Cause Liver and Kidney Damage?

When you decide to get a tattoo, the first thing you can think about is how amazing and cool it is going to be. Few people actually think about the possible side effects of a tattoo. Some don’t even check if they are allergic to ink, which later creates major problems causing tattoo infections, etc. But there is one question that many people ask; Can tattoos really cause liver or kidney damage and disease, or is that just a myth?

In the following paragraphs, we will look at some health issues related to tattoos and see if getting a tattoo can really damage your precious kidneys and liver. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Tattoos and major health issues

The tattoo explained

We all know what getting a tattoo means, but many of us don’t really understand the process. So, let’s start by simply explaining what a tattoo artist does to get the ink under your skin and make it stay there.

Tattoo artists inject dyes or ink into the skin using needles driven by tattoo machines. Dyes or ink are usually purchased from reliable online suppliers. Now, when the artist pushes the needle under the very surface of the skin, the ink is placed in the dermis of the skin in the form of small particles.

Small parts of this ink are absorbed by the surrounding tissues, while the rest simply enters the blood vessel system. This is why the ink can be found in the lymph nodes next to the tattooed skin area.

So if you were wondering where all the health problems come from, this is it. The problem is that the ink doesn’t just stay in one place; excess ink moves into the blood or remains in the tattooed area and surrounding tissue.

Explanation of dyes or tattoo ink

color tattoo ink
Image Credit: Registered Tattoo

Tattoo dyes or inks are generally described as pigments or dyes. But the chemical structure of ink as a pigment is generally insoluble, which is important for the medium in which the pigment is used and incorporated. Pigment is how tattoo artists create stable and persistent tattoos.

Now there are two types of pigments; organic and inorganic.

In the past, the majority of tattoo artists used inorganic pigments, which usually contained heavy metals like chromium, mercury or cadmium. As a result, the pigment was not only black but got colors like red (mercury sulphide) or yellow (cadmium sulphide). The black ink was a mixture of carbon black and titanium dioxide.

Organic pigment is mainly used nowadays. The chemical structure of organic dyes includes organic pigments or polycyclic pigments. These pigments were found to be better in terms of color payoff and vibrancy or vibrancy.

Now, when talking about pigments for ink, it is essential to mention that colorants have no pharmaceutical requirements. So, besides the standard chemical structure, dyes can contain by-products of dye compounds as well as various impurities. Therefore, the full list of colorant “ingredients” is incomplete and varies from colorant to colorant. The same problem applies to black dyes as well as colored pigments.

Tattoo dyes and health issues

Dyes or ink, especially blacks, are usually produced using polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs. Additionally, black ink is usually made from carbon black, which is listed as a possible human carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer or IARC. These carcinogenic compounds are known to be exposed to humans through tobacco and polluted air, or by drinking and eating contaminated water and food.

However, carcinogenic compounds can also enter the body through tattooing, especially if tattoo artists use questionable inorganic pigments or dyes.

Regarding the single issue of carbon black, it is well known that it can cause allergic skin reactions or tattoo infections in some people. In some it can also cause tumors, but such cases, as described by the medical literature, can also appear coincidental.

The tattoo and the dye seem to primarily affect the skin. The tattooing process severely damages the skin and causes superficial bleeding and skin pain. Then there is the itching, swelling, oozing and possible infection of the tattoo during the healing process. Many people suffer from skin sensitivity and persistent skin problems in the tattooed area, even long after the tattoo has fully healed.

Tattoo dyes and liver/kidney problems

As we mentioned earlier, dyes or tattoo ink do not simply stay in the tattooed area. A certain amount of ink remains in the tattooed area or the dermis and creates a persistent tattoo. However, the excess ink enters the blood vessel system and travels through the body.

These transported ink particles have the potential to reach other organs and places in our body or may leave the body completely through the urinary system or defecation. This is where the liver and kidneys come into play.

Because excess ink must somehow exit the body, it is more likely to pass through the liver and kidneys on its way out. The liver is responsible for removing toxins like excess ink, but the chemical structure of ink can cause immunotoxic effects. The same goes for the kidneys. Exposure to heavy metals in bad ink, as well as toxins in dyes, can create a burden on the kidneys and liver and contribute to cognitive issues like fatigue or brain fog, according to Brooke Schneller, Ph.D. clinical nutrition.

However, in the majority of cases, the ink passes through the liver and kidneys and exits the body.

But, a bigger problem is also at hand. What happens when the tattoo gets infected due to external contamination of the tattooed skin (e.g. your tattoo artist is working with a dirty needle). Well, in this case, the infection can spread to the kidneys and cause serious kidney damage.

So what if you had a tattoo?

What not to do before getting a tattoo
Image Credit: Registered Tattoo

One of the main things you can do to avoid possible coloring toxins and heavy metals in your body is to stop getting tattoos. Of course, this can be a difficult decision to make, but if your immune system is generally poor and you suffer from certain diseases or allergies, it would be best to avoid making your health worse than it already is. .

However, if you already have a number of tattoos and want to get rid of the toxins in your body, here’s what you can do.

  • Reduce your alcohol intake to relax your liver and kidneys; alcohol is known to damage the liver and impair liver function because it helps toxins stay in the liver and therefore re-enter the bloodstream.
  • Use dandelion promote detoxification; dandelion is excellent when it comes to detoxifying heavy metals in your body. It triggers blood circulation and helps cleanse the body of toxic heavy metals found in inorganic ink and dyes.
  • Stay away from processed foods, because they can promote the absorption of toxins and help them stay in your body longer. Processed foods also weaken your immune system and allow toxins to harm your body much easier and faster.

What if you still want a tattoo?

If you still choose to get a tattoo, we have some recommendations you can use to avoid future complications and health issues, like;

  • Always choose a professional tattoo artistand be prepared to pay more – this way you can be sure that tattoo artists will use high quality ink, sterile and clean equipment and other hygienic products.
  • Always ask for a vegetable pigment – it is the type of organic pigment that uses spices (like turmeric) to achieve pigmentation, instead of toxic heavy metals. Keep in mind that tattoo artists do not have these products available to them; either they will have to order them especially for you, or you may have to buy them before the tattoo appointment.
  • Take care of your health, especially your diet and water intake – for your body to fight toxins, it must itself be strong and healthy. Proper and healthy food and water intake can strengthen and boost your immune system daily, which can help your body deal with the tattooing process and excess toxins much more effectively.
  • Always ask your tattoo artists for the following; ask them not to use products not intended for tattooing, not to dilute the ink before tattooing, and if so, to dilute only with sterile water. Also, always ask your tattoo artists to clean and sterilize equipment and maintain hand hygiene (use disposable gloves) during the process.

The essential

Before any major decision in life, it is essential to do your research and weigh the pros and cons. The same goes for tattoos. As fun as they seem, tattoos can cause serious health issues in some people and in specific cases. But, since there is no way of knowing how the tattoo or the ink will react with your body, you have to be prepared beforehand.

It is important to emphasize that kidney and liver damage are not common and occur in specific cases. However, it is important to be aware of all potential side and adverse effects of tattooing. You just need to think before you write and inform yourself as much as possible.

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