How Do Tattoo Artists Handle Moles?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Westley Mori, fourth-year medical student (MSIV) University of Pittsburgh Medical School

Westley Mori

Westley Mori, fourth-year medical student (MSIV)
University of Pittsburgh Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Tattooed skin represents an important diagnostic challenge for the dermatologist performing a skin cancer screening. Several case reports have described melanoma being hidden in tattoos.

To our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind investigating the approach of the tattoo artist to skin with melanocytic nevi (moles) or other skin lesions. We found that the approach to tattooing skin spots is highly variable, with some artists tattooing around moles and others simply tattooing over them.

The final cosmetic outcome—not the potential for skin cancer—is often the paramount concern for artists. Those artists with a personal or family history of skin cancer were more likely to refuse inking over a skin spot and recommend the client see a dermatologist.

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Long Term Adverse Reactions To Tattoos Surprisingly Common

Dr. Marie C. Leger, MD, PhD Assistant Professor Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology NYU Langone Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Marie C. Leger, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology
NYU Langone Medical Center

Medical Research: What inspired this study? How did it come about?

Dr. Leger: As a dermatologist at NYU, I have taken care of several patients with tattoo reactions–some of them mild (like longstanding itching for example) and some of them more severe (like long term reactions to a particular color that can severely disfigure the tattoo) and wondered how common it was for people to have adverse tattoo reactions or complications. There were lots of case reports in the literature but only a few larger studies examining how common these kinds of complaints were–and these were all European studies. We decided to do a quick survey to give us a better idea of how common it is for people to have problems with their tattoos.

Medical Research: What do you think is the most important takeaway from this study for the consumer?

Dr. Leger: Tattoos have risks associated with them–which is part of their appeal I’m sure–but I do think it’s important for people to know that long term tattoo reactions (including for example, itching, scaling, swelling) may be more common than we realize.  A recent Danish study shows that these kinds of reactions can be quite distressing for people and significantly impact their quality of life.
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