Many of us are familiar with the idea of artistic tattoos on the body, used by people from differing cultures around the world to permanently decorate the body. Less well known and understood, on the other hand, are medical tattoos.

In short, medical tattoos are a form of permanent cosmetics performed for medical reasons in a clinical environment. You may have also heard the procedure being referred to as micro pigmentation.

Our skin has its own natural pigmentation or color. Decorative tattoos artificially change the pigmentation of the skin to form a permanent artistic and often colorful image on the skin. Medical tattoos, however, involve returning the natural pigmentation  to small areas of skin affected by a myriad of marking or scarring problems. The desired result for most medical tattoo procedures is that the treated skin will look natural and fit with the overall skin tone of the rest of the body.

 

What Does the Procedure Involve?

Just like its decorative equivalent, medical tattooing involves implanting tiny individual amounts of pigment into an inner layer of the skin. A needle would penetrate through the epidermis, or outer layer, which is too frequently naturally exfoliated to hold the injected color.  The pigment would then be deposited in the second layer, the dermis, where it would then permanently reside in order to forever alter the overall color and tone of the skin in that area.

 

When Are Medical Tattoos Used for Repairing Skin Imperfections?

There are a multitude of reasons for requiring a medical tattoo. Patients may choose to opt for a medical tattoo if the appearance of the skin is causing concern and will not naturally repair itself over time.

Medical tattoos are frequently performed after another medical procedure to restore the look of affected skin, for example, to replicate the appearance of an areola after mastectomy and breast reconstruction by adding darker pigmentation.

Medical tattoos are commonly used on the face for restorative reasons such as restoring lip shape or appearance after facial surgery, or to minimize the appearance of scarring after injury or burns.  Some post-chemotherapy patients may choose to have the appearance of their eyebrows restored through medical tattooing.

Clinics may also offer the procedure to alter the appearance of skin that is causing the patient embarrassment, for example to camouflage stretch marks with a tattoo or to alter the appearance of prominent birthmarks, or to reduce the appearance of radiotherapy marks. It is also helpful to revise the appearance of vitiligo, a condition where white patches appear on the skin where its natural pigmentation is lost.

 

Alternative Medical Reasons for Tattoos

Radiotherapy patients may also occasionally receive a tattoo pretreatment to pinpoint the exact spot that requires treatment for the benefit of the radiologist. This tattoo would appear no bigger than a freckle.

Many patients with serious conditions wear identifying bracelets to alert medical professionals to their condition in the event of an emergency situation wherein they lose the ability to communicate the problem verbally. Examples could be diabetic patients, or those with severe allergies, amongst many others. Paramedics are trained to look for this kind of information on a patient before they proceed with treatment.

Frequently, these patients, worried about or irritated by the loss of these essential bracelets, are opting to have their conditions tattooed onto their wrists instead. Of course, having this information permanently tattooed on your person is only wise if your condition is also permanent.

 

Who Can I Discuss Getting a Medical Tattoo With?

If you are being treated for a medical condition that will affect the pigmentation or appearance of the skin, then you should be able to discuss receiving a medical tattoo as part of your treatment plan with the professionals involved in your care.

Likewise, if you are in need of reconstructive treatment post surgery or injury, then you should also be able to discuss medical tattooing as part of your treatment.

Alternatively, a clinic with an aesthetics doctor or clinical dermatologist will be happy to discuss your needs.

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