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Microblading, Public Health and The Law

Microblading is a trend that is increasing in popularity with people looking to modify their appearance. The process, also known as eyebrow embroidery, is a form of semi-permanent tattooing, using ink to alter the appearance of the eyebrows. A small, hand-held blade made up of multiple needles is used to create small, shallow tattoos that resemble the natural hair of a person’s eyebrow.

It is important to know who can and who cannot legally offer microblading before having the procedure done.

Per the Official Code of Georgia, Section 31-40-1, microblading falls into the legal definition of tattooing. Since pigments are implanted under the skin during the process, only a tattoo studio permitted by a county health department can offer the service legally. Anyone offering tattooing outside of a licensed tattoo studio is operating illegally.

The unique nature of microblading leads to additional rules covering the procedure. Section 16-12-5 of the Code of Georgia further restricts tattooing when the procedure is done within one inch of the nearest part of the eye. Only a licensed physician can legally tattoo within this area; anyone else who tattoos within the area is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Put simply, microblading is tattooing and microblading can only be performed by a physician in a tattoo studio or in the physician’s office, or supervised by a physician onsite in a tattoo studio or in the physician’s office.

Why all the regulation for such small tattoos? Like all tattooing, microblading has a variety of health risks involved. Breaking the skin with unsterile equipment carries the risk of infections and transmission of diseases like staph, hepatitis, HIV and other bacteria. Poor tattooing can also lead to unsightly and hard to remove scar tissue. The type of ink used for the tattoo may even cause problems, leading to allergic reactions in some people.

“We want people to know what they’re getting into if they decide to undergo microblading,” said North Central Health District Environmental Health Director Carla Coley. “And more importantly, we want people to know what to look for in licensed, legal and safe providers of microblading and other forms of tattooing. A licensed tattoo artist will follow safety precautions that someone microblading out of their home illegally may not even consider.”

If you have questions about a facility or tattoo artist offering microblading, contact the Environmental Health office at 706-321-6170.

Thanks to Michael Hokanson,
North Central Health District