I am a new nurse looking for a job, and one prospect is to be a laser operator at a laser tattoo removal salon.
I'll be interviewing soon and have been reading what I can find about this procedure online. There doesn't seem to be any research on where exactly the ink goes after the laser breaks it up, and what the long-reaching effects are. Some articles say macrophages pick up the pieces and they are "flushed out" via the lymph system. However, I can't find medical research to back this up. Tattoo inks contain things like iron, cadmium, lead, lithium, and zinc - I wouldn't expect macrophages to pay attention to these metals. Do they flush out through urine/stool? What if the metals actually lodge somewhere in the liver or spleen? Couldn't that be dangerous down the road?
Tattoo ink ingredients are considered cosmetic by the FDA, but if they are going into the person's system, that isn't just cosmetic anymore. When I envision what might be happening, it seems to me laser tattoo removal is like putting an unknown amount of particles of unknown substances into someone's bloodstream.
I want a job, but I want to know what I would be getting into with this one. I am wondering if any nurses out there who do this procedure can tell me how it effects the body. Are the patients followed up on after they walk out the door?
Thanks in advance.
Feb 7, '13
Commenting on my own post, in case other nurses are interested...
I researched the topic at my nursing school's library and found many interesting articles. Here is the info about one particularly comprehensive article, for those who want to look it up:
Laser Tattoo Removal: Benefits and Caveats
Adatto, Maurice A. Medical Laser Application19. 4 (Dec 2004): 175-185.