Microblading Health Risks

Microblading is a type of cosmetic tattoo. A technician draws eyebrow “hairs” with a special tool that has tiny needles on the end. They make fine cuts and fill them with color. The color usually lasts about a year. All tattoos fade over time -- it just happens faster with microblading. The procedure is generally considered safe and most people don’t have problems. But there are risks. Here’s what you need to know.

Risks

Microblading could cause:

Infection. If your technician uses dirty water or equipment, they can spread bacteria like staphylococcus (staph). They could also spread viruses like HIV, hepatitis, or herpes. Sometimes the ink is contaminated with bacteria or mold. There’s no guarantee it’s safe, even if the package is sealed. You doctor might give you antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals if you get an infection.

Allergic reaction. You might get an itchy rash from the ink. That could be a sign of an allergic reaction. It’s rare, but it happens most often with the color red. Red is sometimes mixed with black dye to make a shade that matches your natural brows. You may need steroid shots or antihistamines.

Granulomas. Microblading injects a foreign substance into your skin. Your body may try to protect you by making inflammatory knots around the area. It may not happen right away. Granulomas sometimes happen months or years after the procedure. You’ll need to take steroids or antibiotics to get better.

Sarcoidosis. This is when you get more than one granuloma. They may grow on your organs. In one study, they showed up 15 years after a patient got a traditional eyebrow tattoo. The treatment is the same.

Keloids. These are scars that grow bigger than normal. They don’t usually happen on your face. But if you’ve had keloids before, you may get them from microblading.

MRI problems. It’s not common, but tattooed skin can swell or burn if you get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Your skin will go back to normal after the procedure. If you need one, be sure to tell your doctor or radiologist about the microblading.

The FDA doesn’t regulate tattoo shops or cosmetic salons. But they do watch out for problems. You just have to report them. If you have a bad reaction, let the FDA know.

Don’t worry if your eyebrows get a little dark and flaky. That’s a normal part of the healing process.

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How to Find a Technician

You can start by asking a board-certified dermatologist. They don’t do microblading, but they may point you in the right direction.

People who do permanent makeup should have a certain amount of training. But regulation isn’t the same everywhere. Some states think it’s a tattoo. Others don’t. That means your technician may or may not have to stick to strict health standards.

It can be hard to know if you’ve found a good technician. Read reviews and look at before and after photos. Check out how clean the shop is before you get work done.

Ask the technician these questions before you get microblading:

  • Do you use new needles and sterile equipment with each client?
  • Is your shop inspected and licensed by the health department?
  • How much experience do you have with microblading?
  • How many hours of training do you have?
  • Where did you go for training?

What to Expect During and After

Most technicians put a numbing cream on your eyebrows before they start. But microblading can still be uncomfortable for some people. It may feel like little scratches.

It should take about 10-14 days for your eyebrows to heal. Don’t pick at your skin. That could cause scarring. Just let it fall off.

It’s important to follow the instructions your technician gives you. If they want you to use a moisturizing cream, use a cotton swab to put it on. Keep your face clean. But don’t touch your eyebrows too much or get them really wet. That can expose you to bacteria. You should stay out of the pool and skip sweaty workouts for the first week.

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor right away if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You’re bleeding.
  • You're in a lot of pain.
  • The area is oozing, smells bad, or feels warm.
  • The area keeps getting redder.

This could be a sign of an infection or allergy.

Who Shouldn’t Get It?

Microblading isn’t a good idea if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It could raise your chances of infection or other problems. And if you get sick, it might affect your baby. You should also avoid microblading if:

You may need to wait if you just got:

  • An eyebrow wax
  • Chemical peel
  • Laser treatment
  • Botox
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on December 18, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Lindsey A. Bordone, MD, dermatologist, Columbia University Medical Center.

Tanya Khan, MD, oculoplastic surgeon, Tru-Skin Dermatology.

Anna Karp, DO, dermatologist, The Skin Institute.

FDA: “Tattoos, Temporary Tattoos & Permanent Makeup,” “Tattoos & Permanent Makeup: Fact Sheet,” “Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?” “Tattoos and Permanent Make-up.” 

National Environmental Health Association: “Policy Statement on Microblading.”

Clinical Interventions in Aging: “Severe unexpected adverse effects after permanent eye makeup and their management by Q-switched Nd:YAG laser.”

Journal of Postgraduate Medicine: “Looking beyond the cosmetic tattoo lesion near the eyebrow: Screening the lungs.”

The Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals: “Microblading Fact Sheet,” “Choosing a Permanent Cosmetics Technician.” 

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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