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What makes tattoos permanent? - Claudia Aguirre

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The earliest recorded tattoo was found on a Peruvian mummy in 6,000 BC. That’s some old ink! And considering humans lose roughly 40,000 skin cells per hour, how do these markings last? Claudia Aguirre details the different methods, machines and macrophages (you’ll see) that go into making tattoos stand the test of time.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Claudia Aguirre
  • Director Hector Herrera
  • Producer Pazit Cahlon
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Further reading to recap what we learned.

Urban legend has it that tattooed patients undergoing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) have experienced the ink being ripped from their skin – Is it true? Even though the presence of metal is common in pigments, there are no documented reports of tattoos being “ripped out” during a routine MRI. But some people do exhibit swelling, itching or burning after getting scanned. There are also reports of pigments causing problems with the MRI results, perhaps because of the metals in the inks (FDA, 2011). While there is no reason to avoid getting an MRI scan, the radiologist or technician should know so appropriate precautions can be taken.

Necrosis is the disorganized death that results in inflammation because the immune system is not involved and cell cleanup is not accomplished; apoptosis (programmed cell death) is highly ordered and controlled, involves the immune system, and results in phagocytosis by macrophages (Becker et al., 2009). Once ink is delivered into the dermis, the body immediately begins to recognize that the ink is foreign and the immune system starts to react. Tattoo clients should not exhibit necrosis beyond the initial scabbing process if a tattoo is applied correctly.

Does the sun affect tattoos? Yes! But, the effect can be slowed by using an essential part of any outdoor activity: sunscreen. Watch this super cool TED-Ed Lesson about sunscreen.

For more videos about the human body, check out this TED-Ed Series called Getting Under Our Skin.
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07/10/2014 • 
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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Claudia Aguirre
  • Director Hector Herrera
  • Producer Pazit Cahlon
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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