Toxic Tattoo Ink Rebuttal of a Medical News Today Article
Toxic Tattoo Ink Arguments don't stand up to scrutiny:
Baseless Conclusions seized on by Laser Medical specialty to hijack FDA into hopes of forcing tattooists to use only inks that are laser removable.
A sentence by sentence examination of a recent typical article to illustrate how misguided and blatantly unscientific "scientific" reporting can be.
By Westley Wood (Comments in Blue. Original Text indented in black)
Title of Medical News Today Article: Chemicals in tattoo inks need closer scrutiny, 14 Mar 2005
The first sentence begins:
As tattoos have grown in popularity, so have complaints of adverse side effects associated with both their application and removal.
This opening sentence is a "fabrication - with a twist."
May sound reasonable but there is no evidence that such is the case.
For this statement to be true we would have to know
--a) the number of complaints -- b) the number of tattoos applied and removed, --c) both before and --d) after popularity. There is no data, not even within the tattoo industry. How can this sentence be uttered with a straight face. This is a total invention (--but wait for the twist).
- To be meaningful the statement has to be based on the ratios of the complaint data. No one would try to pull a fast one and claim they mean raw count, which is unsupported.
- To be meaningful the statement presents that the complaints are legitimate, of course they would have to have been investigated as most likely true and convincingly associated with application or removal. How could this make its way into print?
- There is no mention of what these "necessarily-significant" side effects are. Later in the article we are told what these "dire" adverse effects really are. Wait till you hear these. This is good stuff.
- The inclusion of "removal" reveals the twist -- which is, that it's the word "application" that is out of place. The sentence should be read without that word:
- As tattoos have grown in popularity, so have complaints of adverse side effects associated with (laser) removal.
- Finally something that makes sense.
The disappointment is from doctors and laser technicians not getting the results they want using laser technology, not from clients. Clients aren't getting less than optimal results or unwanted side effects from application. It has nothing to do with "application" at all. There are no adverse "side effects" of significance or statistical relevance.
The purpose of the study is stated openly: to help justify regulation of tattoo ink.
In other words, the purpose will be considered true and appropriate if the presence of certain chemicals is detected. Or, when certain chemicals can be detected in tattoo ink, then tattoo ink should be regulated.
The problem is not that ink contains detectable chemicals, but that tattoo ink is not regulated. That's the problem which the study is meant to accomplish. This methodolgy is shameful.
As a tattoo ink supplier, the second in line to hear adverse-effect-reporting we state that reports due to ink are rare or less. Though not suggested in this article it would be good to pre-dispel any attempt to resurrect the discredited argument "under-reporting". Any argument based on under-reporting is not considered valid unless a study is done to support the theory. No study has been done and no evidence is available for this thoughtless charge.
As it is, laser removal has significant areas of failure and should be recognized as an un-reliable alternative that may actually be causing harm. Don't be surprised. Studies of the health effects of laser removal are conspicuously lacking. If anything, the FDA should take a long hard look at the laser's damaging effects on the body and what new chemicals are being created by the transforming effects of the lazer. Laser supporters have openly state that they don't have a clue and it's obvious there is no hint of caution using these devices.
The desire is: to get legislative fiat to formulate tattoo inks for removal and make permanent ink illegal.
This is from The Archives of Dermatology: 2001
Like it or not, we are charged with caring for the nation's skin problems, including self-inflicted ones.
Unless something changes, we are going to disappoint the millions of
persons getting tattoos, who eventually show up at a dermatologist's practice to get them removed...
...If the most stubborn-to-remove tattoo inks can be identified, we might predict which patients will do poorly, and perhaps these inks can be taken off the market.
But, what else can be done?
This editorial will address the following topics:
(1) improving the clearance of tattoo ink particles after laser treatment,
(2) optimizing the laser–tattoo ink interaction,
(3) eliminating difficult-to-remove, antigenic and/or toxic tattoo inks from the market,and
(4) designing new tattoo inks.
Archives of Dermatology,
Regarding Tattoos: Is That Sunlight, or an Oncoming Train at the End of the Tunnel? R. Rox Anderson, MD, Vol. 137 No. 2, February 2001
Anderson's report goes on to explain that option 1 and 2 either don't work, can't be done, or are unlikely to be achievable. Option 3 and 4 are the answer. In short, the teh detection of the presence of toxic chemicals is to be championed by laser doctors to push for the forced removal of inks that cannot be removed (so that lazers will work). Because they don't work.
From this same article: "Regarding Tattoos" the process is described.
What and where are the tattoo ink particles?
Tattoos consist of phagocytosed submicrometer ink particles trapped in the
lysosomes of phagocytic dermal cells, mostly fibroblasts, macrophages, and mast
What happens during laser removal?
When extremely intense (100 million W/cm2), brief (billionths of a second) light pulses are absorbed by these intracellular ink particles, they reach extreme temperatures (at least 300°C). The particles fracture, undergo chemical changes, violently boil water in the cell cytoplasm, rupture the cells, and release laser-altered ink into the dermis.
Does this sound scary?
Some of this free ink is eliminated by lymphatic and transepidermal transport, but most of it is rephagocytosed by somatic dermal cells within a few days.
The cells again trap remaining smaller ink particles that have not been removed.
This rephagocytosis accounts for the "residual" tattoo after each laser treatment; we found that essentially all of the residual tattoo ink particles were ultrastructurally altered by a single, previous laser treatment.
All the ink particles are reduced in size by a first laser session but within a few days the cells migrate back into the area and rephagotize the particles still there. The body works too slowly for lazer success. Cells enter the area again and start trapping the paricles. Each laser session now has to blast all the new cells, again and again. The army keeps marching forward and the laser keeps cutting them down until eventually all the ink is gone. It occurs to me to ask if this is safe and "good" for the body.