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Trendy Tattoos—Maybe a Serious Health Risk?



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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Felix J. Paprottka.

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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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Detlev Hebebrand: Senior Author.

Presentation of this work

DGCH Berlin, Germany // 04/2016 // oral presentation.

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Paprottka, F.J., Krezdorn, N., Narwan, M. et al. Trendy Tattoos—Maybe a Serious Health Risk?. Aesth Plast Surg 42, 310–321 (2018).

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