The chances are slim, but there have been reports of tattoos causing skin burns during an MRI. How’s that possible you ask? Some tattoo inks have metallic components.

MRI machines use a powerful magnet to take pictures of the musculoskeletal system. The magnet is strong enough to rip a piercing from the skin, which is why you need to remove all your jewelry and metal accessories before an MRI. But you can’t remove a tattoo as easily as you can take out your earrings.

If the pigments used to create your tattoo contained metallic iron oxides, the MRI could cause those components to heat that area of your skin, sometimes enough to cause a burn.

The cases of MRIs causing tattoo burns are isolated, but it’s best to err on the side of caution, especially if you have older ink. If your doctor has ordered an MRI, let your doctor know you have a tattoo. You’ll still want to proceed with the MRI, jut be aware of your inked areas and advise the operator immediately if you’re having any discomfort during the procedure.

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