Microblading and MRI: How Does Permanent Makeup Affect MRI?

By Katarina V.| Last updated on February 7, 2024
microblading and mri
⏱️ 3 min read

Last updated: February 2024

Permanent makeup is a great solution to a number of inconveniences related to regular makeup wear such as everyday reapplication and smudging, but its list of benefits doesn’t end there.

It’s also applied in the final phase of the breast reconstruction process for nipple and areola tattooing, it helps reconstruct areas affected by hair loss due to alopecia, and much more.

However, as with every cosmetic procedure, it is not without its risks and repercussions. Beyond possible allergic reactions and infections, permanent makeup can affect MRI scanning, which is something to think about before booking your procedure.

In this article, we explain microblading and MRI – how permanent makeup affects MRI scans, what are the possible risks and side effects and how to avoid these issues. So, let’s get started!

Does Permanent Makeup Affect MRI Scans?

As part of preparation for an MRI scan, your physician (or MRI technician) will ask you if you have any tattoos. As PMU is not as widespread as tattooing, they may fail to ask you if you’ve had any permanent or semi-permanent makeup done, which can then lead to some side effects.

Permanent makeup for eyes and lips is more or less noticeable, but the physician may not notice you’ve had procedures such as scalp micropigmentation or micropigmentation elsewhere on the body like nipple and areola tattoo or scar camouflage.

So it’s very important you notify your physician if you’ve had any type of cosmetic tattooing done, even if they don’t ask (which they should).

Although permanent makeup uses cosmetic pigments instead of ink used in traditional tattooing, the color will show up as a shade on the scan. If your physician is not made aware of where you have permanent makeup, they can misinterpret the scan and not diagnose you properly.

does pmu affect mriImage source: Freepik

How Can Permanent Makeup Pigments Affect MRI?

MRI (or magnetic resonance imaging) is an imaging technique used in radiology to examine different organs in the body by using radio waves and strong magnetic fields.

So before any MRI, the technician will ask you to remove any metal you possibly have on your body; all jewelry, and especially piercings – if any piercing remains in the skin once the magnets are activated, serious injuries may occur.

What does this have to do with permanent makeup? Well, the most widely used pigments in permanent makeup are iron oxides, which can potentially react to the magnets.

Although rare, cases of burning sensations in the areas where pigments were injected during the scan, or swelling following the examination were recorded. The areas most prone to burns are the skin around the eyes and the lips, as these are the most delicate parts of the face.

Is It Safe to Have MRI Scans if I’ve Had Permanent Makeup Done?

If you have permanent makeup and need an MRI, don’t panic just yet – cases of the type of reaction mentioned above are rare!

The severity of damage to the skin depends on the percentage of iron oxides in the pigment, and since iron oxides are only one type of permanent makeup pigment, chances are your permanent makeup artist might have used a different, iron oxide-free formula.

Even if they didn’t, there is no certainty the pigment will react at all!

Should you start to feel a burning sensation or notice any redness during the scan, it is crucial to tell your technician and stop the examination immediately.

Most likely, this is related to the fact that the skin on the eyelids, as well as on the eyebrows, is much thinner than on the rest of the body. If this happens, a CT scan might be a safer alternative.

In any case, physicians stress that permanent makeup is no reason to avoid an MRI. In fact, avoiding it could turn out to be a bigger risk.

How Can I Avoid Possible Issues?

Generally, it is crucial to be informed about the type of pigment your permanent makeup artist uses. As the FDA doesn’t regulate pigments used in cosmetic tattooing, the market is full of low-quality formulas that may not even state all the ingredients properly.

However, on May 21, 2019, the FDA issued a safety advisory warning for consumers, tattoo artists, and retailers to avoid using or selling certain tattoo inks that are contaminated with microorganisms.

With PMU artists being poorly regulated in training and educational competency requirements in many states, the best way to ensure what you’re having injected into your body is safe is to go to a certified and experienced PMU artist, even if it means paying a bit more.

Microblading and MRI – Final Thoughts

While MRI scans themselves do not cause pain, they can potentially affect certain types of permanent makeup or semi-permanent pigments due to the magnetic field.

Should the need for an MRI scan arise, the most important thing is to keep your physician informed. Once you tell them you’ve had work done, they may ask you what brand of pigments was used so they can study the ingredients.

If you don’t know what brand of pigments was used, contact your permanent makeup artist.

Cover image source: Freepik

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