We know. You're tired of tattooing your skin with metal salts, lead, cobalt and carbon, and want to try the new organic azo dyes with plastic-based pigments.
But before you stroll into Kat Von D's L.A. ink shop, High Voltage Tattoo, consider this: Recent reports show these new tattoo dyes are triggering an increasing number of complications, including allergic reactions, infections and lesions that look like squamous cell skin cancer. When those bumps appear, you'll need a biopsy to figure out what's going on - not pleasant for you or the tattoo.
Also consider that you're adding these new risks to the ones that come along with old-school inks: Some contain hormone disruptors that can migrate to your lymph nodes; others deliver lead, cobalt, cadmium, mercury sulfide (all well-documented carcinogens) and toxic hydrocarbons. And BTW, unless you get new inks for each color, even if the needles are sterilized, it's as risky as having sex with everyone who has received a tat with that ink.
We'd like to see regulations that make it clear which inks are a health hazard and which, if any, are OK to use. But in the meantime, if you're dying for a tat, take this advice:
- Insist that your tattoo artist use sterile equipment and a new ink pack to reduce risks of blood-borne infections.
- Don't tattoo over a mole.
- Only go to a parlor that's state licensed (not all states provide that regulation).
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.