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Permanent Make Up can Cause Disfigurement

Permanent make up that is used by millions of women to enhance their lips eyelid and eyebrows can disfigure them for years, especially those who suffer allergic reactions, a new study reveals.

Permanent makeup is essentially just a tattoo in place of cosmetics such as eyeliner or lipstick. People choose to have cosmetic tattoos, in order to save time. Difficulty in applying makeup, and thinning eyebrows or eyelashes, are among the other reasons for going in for this make up. The very procedures that are supposed to enhance beauty may actually result in unsightly side effects, such as swelling or bumps.

Like a regular tattoo, the permanent makeup procedure injects pigment into a deep layer of skin called the dermis, according to the American Academy of Micro pigmentation (AAM). The epidermis is the layer of skin you normally see, and the one that constantly sheds and renews itself. Permanent makeup may also be called cosmetic tattoo or micro pigmentation.

Doctors have long known that Patients who injected permanent makeup ink could experience allergic reaction when such hard-to-remove pigments were used. And occasionally people developed an allergic reaction to tattoos they had for years, the researchers report in this week's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a letter appearing in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, Masja Straetemans of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues described allergic reactions from the cosmetics.

To assess how long the disfigurement lasted, Masja Straetemans of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues interviewed 92 women who had problems after the procedure.

More than 9 out of 10 had swelling and tenderness, nearly that many complained of itching, and more than 4 out of 5 had bumps.

They found that the allergic reaction lasted anywhere from five months to more than three years.

"The body sees the pigment as a foreign body and reacts to it, causing a chronic inflammatory reaction," said Dr. Ellen Marmur, chief of dermatological surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. "The area gets swollen, bumpy and red. It looks like a bad, bumpy scar. It's very unattractive."

Marmur said it's impossible to know ahead of time who will have a reaction and who won't, although most of the people interviewed for the study -- 74 percent -- had a history of allergies. Additionally, the study found that people with allergies took twice as long to heal, on average.

Another concern, Marmur said, is the potential for serious infections, such as hepatitis. "You don't know if the needles are safe, and if they're not sterilized, they can introduce bacteria and viruses under your skin. Even your own bacteria that live on your skin can be a problem if the skin isn't cleaned properly."

In 2004, American Institute of Intradermal Cosmetics in Arlington, Texas, recalled and replaced inks in its Premier Pigments brand after they were implicated in many of the problems reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The researchers wanted that "Consumers and medical professionals should report adverse reactions to permanent-makeup procedures to the FDA."


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