Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 310–321 | Cite as

Trendy Tattoos—Maybe a Serious Health Risk?

  • Felix J. PaprottkaEmail author
  • Nicco Krezdorn
  • Mustafa Narwan
  • Marvee Turk
  • Heiko Sorg
  • Ernst Magnus Noah
  • Detlev Hebebrand
Original Article Special Topics



The literature reports many cases of cutaneous malignancy in the setting of skin tattoos. In this study, we review the reported incidence of and risk factors for tattoo-associated skin cancer.


A PubMed literature review was performed for all cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, keratoacanthoma, and other rare skin malignancies (source: PubMed/until June 2017).


The authors identified 51 publications and 63 total cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer. We also report on a single new case of tattoo-associated skin cancer observed at one of our co-authors’ institutions. Among these 64 total cases, 58% were associated with black and blue inks and 34% were associated with red ink.


Overall, while the strength of association remains unclear, the literature reports many cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer. Among these cases, black, blue, and red inks were particularly worrisome for their carcinogenic potential.

Level of Evidence IV

This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. For a full description of these Evidence-Based Medicine ratings, please refer to the Table of Contents or the online Instructions to Authors


Tattoo Skin tumour Ink Skin cancer Rare side effect Malignant skin disease 



We are grateful to Mrs. Katharina Weinberger for performing the surgery on the patient, who is presented as new case report within this scientific work.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

The research project with all its procedures was granted by the local ethical committee (medical association of Lower Saxony, Germany) and is in accordance with national law and the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki (1964) with its ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects and subsequent amendments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix J. Paprottka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicco Krezdorn
    • 2
  • Mustafa Narwan
    • 3
  • Marvee Turk
    • 2
  • Heiko Sorg
    • 4
  • Ernst Magnus Noah
    • 3
  • Detlev Hebebrand
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plastic, Aesthetic, Reconstructive and Hand SurgeryAGAPLESION Diakonieklinikum RotenburgRotenburg (Wümme)Germany
  2. 2.Harvard Medical School, Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic SurgeryBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Plastic, Reconstructive, Aesthetic and Hand SurgeryRotes Kreuz Krankenhaus KasselKasselGermany
  4. 4.Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Hand SurgeryAlfried Krupp KrankenhausEssenGermany

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