Lymph Node Pigmentation

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In rare cases the body may have an allergic reaction to tattoo ink, but instead of just reacting to it, it will attempt to absorb it and pass it into the lymphatic system for disposal. Some people may notice that certain inks "disappear" over time in their body without falling out with a scab.

Again, in rare cases, the ink may collect in the lymph nodes — one reader recounted to me feeling "tumors" under his armpits. Upon having them removed (the inflamed lymph nodes) they turned out to be swollen and totally saturated with blue tattoo ink. Another reader wrote us,

"I'm 26 years old and have a tattoo on my left arm (bicep area). I received it about five years ago, and had no problems at all. That was until about a year ago, when I started to notice swelling under my left arm pit. I had my doctor look at it, on two separate occasions, and all he said was 'it's just a fatty cist, don't worry!' Months went by and feeling fine I just went on my merry way. I went to see a second doctor just to have him look at it though and he said the same thing but sent me to a surgeon to get a CT scan. When the pictures from the scan came back he saw that my lymph nodes under my arm were the size of golf balls!!! He then performed surgery to remove one lymph node for biopsy. Once he removed the node, he immediately noticed pigmentation from my tattooing. As of now, I'm awaiting the test results to see if it's anything else, but he told me it's very common and that if this is due to the ink causing infection in the lymph nodes, there is no danger at all! You just have to wait for the lymph nodes to cleanse themselves out and it will eventually go away! What a relief!"

Tattoo ink is also absorbed by the lymphatic system during some forms of laser tattoo removal.

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