Digital Tattoo Equipment
Categories of Equipment Used for Permanent Cosmetics
There are few laws in Idaho that set any standards for permanent makeup or medical tattooing. The methods and techniques can be performed in different ways using different types of equipment:
- Hand Tap Tools: The hand-tap process is manual and non-electric. Technicians use disposable needle tools that push or “tap” pigment into the skin. When this method is performed correctly, there is no risk of disease transmission because the single-use tools are sterile and disposable. The “tapping method” creates very soft color and the procedures usually take a very long time.
- Coil Machines: These are smaller versions of the “tattoo guns” used to create body art and are powerful, fast, and heavy. They were used when permanent cosmetics first became popular in the 1980s. If a certain part (band) inside the machine breaks while it is running, the needle can be ejected. Therefore, coil machines are seldom used by tattooists for permanent makeup today.
- Rotary Pen Machines: Coil machines were gradually replaced by smaller electric machines called analogue “rotary pens.” Today these are the most commonly used devices because they are inexpensive and lightweight. However, some rotary pens are banned by county health departments because they allow backflow of body fluids into the hand piece that cannot be cleaned out. This causes “cross-contamination” and the spread of diseases like Hepatitis even when sterile needles are used.
- Digital Equipment: Today’s state-of-the-art equipment for cosmetic tattooing is electric, digital, and computerized. The hand piece is small and resembles a rotary pen device, but the patented needle cartridges do not allow cross-contamination. The needles implant pigment very precisely, and the machines use internal computer chips (microprocessors) to control the needle speeds. Few technicians use this equipment because the machine and its specialized needles are quite expensive.
Some Electric Tattoo Machines Have Defects
Cross-Contamination Problems: Worldwide government health care agencies are concerned about the spread of diseases through tattoo machines. Diseases can be transmitted even when sterile, single-use, disposable needles are used. This problem is called “cross-contamination.” It happens when the inside of a machine’s hand piece becomes contaminated with a person’s body fluids (blood or lymph). Tests on rotary pen hand pieces have shown that internal parts on some models become contaminated during the tattooing process—from exposure to particles in circulated air or backflow of fluids. The contamination cannot be removed even after thorough cleaning or using disposable parts. Any contaminated hand piece can transfer diseases (e.g. Hepatitis, HIV) from person to person even when it is used with a sterile needle.
- Speed Control and Needle Placement: A cosmetic tattoo machine needle implants pigment by penetrating the skin like a sewing machine (in-and-out). The needle speed is very fast up to several hundred insertions (punctures) per second. An electric rotary pen machine runs at only one speed. Its speed slows when the needle penetrates skin that is more dense or tough. The irregular speed causes inconsistent spacing between the pigment “dots” (insertion points). This is similar to a sewing machine “skipping” stitches if the fabric is pulled too quickly. The irregular insertion points can cause poor color retention and inconsistent lines. Also, some rotary pens have sideways needle movement. This is like a loose sewing machine needle wobbling from side to side. A sideways displacement can increase tissue damage from the irregular needle punctures.
Sophisticated Technology is Available—The Nouveau Contour System®
Cosmetic tattooing is a very precise process that is difficult to repair or remove. Therefore, it is extremely important for a well-trained and experienced cosmetic tattoo professional to use the best equipment available. Dr. Reed uses one of the safest alternatives to traditional machines: The Nouveau Contour System® of sterile needle cartridges and computerized equipment. She uses the Nouveau Contour Intelligent™ model which is a fully computerized digital permanent cosmetics device. It is controlled by a microprocessor chip and has the following advantages over analogue rotary pen machines:
Individual Program Settings: Internal software calculates the best needle speed for good pigment implantation. This is important because skin structure and texture varies by location. For instance, areola skin is thicker and denser than eyelid skin. For areola pigmentation, the “Medical” program automatically adjusts the needle speed and increases power to the hand piece so pigment is inserted more efficiently. For an eyeliner procedure, the “Eyes” program slows down the power and needle frequency so pigment is deposited more gently. The Intelligent has pre-programmed settings for different procedures (Eyebrows, Eyes, Lips, and Medical). However, a technician can adjust the speed any time if needed. This sophisticated technology improves upon the “one speed fits all” design of rotary pen or coil machines.
Automatic Speed Adjustment: The Intelligent maintains a stable needle frequency during all procedures. When resistance or pulling of the skin occurs, the digital control unit adjusts the power and needle speed so the rate of needle punctures per second remains constant. A simple analogy is a car set on cruise control: When it drives uphill, the car accelerates to maintain a constant pre-set speed, or when it drives downhill it slows down. The Intelligent’s stable needle speed ensures consistent pigment implantation for better results.
Zero-Tolerance Hand Piece: The Intelligent’s hand piece is manufactured with a “Zero Tolerance System” so it operates without any sideways movement of the needle. This prevents unnecessary tissue damage and improves performance. Lines such as hair strokes appear more clearly defined because the hand piece functions with greater precision.
Patented Safety Needle: The Intelligent’s Disposable Safety Needle Cartridge® has several U.S. and European patents. Its features address the safety concerns of those nation’s health care agencies. First, the needle and its protective tube are combined into one sterile disposable cartridge that is completely independent of the hand piece. Internal diaphragms stop fluid or airborne particles from entering the hand piece chamber which prevents internal contamination. That means there is no cross-contamination between clients. Second, the needle protrudes (sticks out) from the cartridge only when the Intelligent is turned on and running. As soon as the power is turned off, the needle automatically slides back into the cartridge. That function prevents an accidental “stick” (puncture) of the client or the technician.
Worldwide, the Nouveau Contour Intelligent is the first digital “pen” tattoo machine for permanent cosmetics that guarantees no chance of cross-contamination. The Nouveau Contour System provides safety, and peace of mind, for both Dr. Reed and her patients.