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Does tattoo removal work?

You've probably heard of laser removal before, either on TV or through a quick Google search, but does it actually work? How can lasers be used to remove a tattoo? Well, I'm glad you've asked. Laser tattoo removal basically works in the same way as the Sun does when it makes your tattoos slowly fade over the years.

By, Ricky Goacher | Date: 10/09/2017

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Fun Fact:

The longest tattoo session by a team of two lasted for 52 hours and 56 minutes

tattoo machine, tattoo

We've seen the popularity of tattoos increasing over the years, especially amongst the younger generations. With more people getting inked every year there are some people who regret ever setting foot into a tattoo studio. From drunken nights to impulsive moments while on holiday, what ever the reason, these people now have tattoos.

Unfortunately there is nothing that they can do about it, once you get a tattoo it's permanent and will stay on your body forever, right? Well, not necessarily!

There is now an option available to rectify past mistakes, which means names of past lovers and inappropriate imagery can now be removed from your body and forgotten about for good. All this and without the need for surgery, you just book an appointment, just like you do when you're getting a tattoo, and over a number of sessions you will see your tattoo disappear!

Laser tattoo removal

You've probably heard of laser removal before, either on TV or through a quick Google search, but does it actually work? How can lasers be used to remove a tattoo? Well, I'm glad you've asked. Laser tattoo removal basically works in the same way as the Sun does when it makes your tattoos slowly fade over the years.

How the Sun fades tattoos

To understand how this works, we must first look at why the sun actually causes tattoos to fade.While getting tattooed, the tattoo artist is injecting ink, which contains heavy metals, into the dermis - the inner most layer of skin. Because it is a very stable layer of our skin, this means once the ink is injected into it, it will remain there. You may be asking, how is that possible? During the process, our body 'thinks' it's under attack so as a reaction to that, it sends white blood cells to the ink in an attempt to absorb it and carry it away into the blood stream. But because the particles of ink are too large, the white blood cells are unable to absorb it, causing it to stay visible on our body.

For more information on how tattoos check out this article on how tattoos work.

When light penetrates the epidermis (the outer most layer of skin) and hits the ink, it breaks the ink up into smaller pieces by rapidly heating one half of the particle and causing it to grow on one side due to thermal expansion. This causes massive internal stresses that rip apart the particle into smaller pieces, which can then be carried away into the blood stream. This is what you are seeing in the video below.

The laser releases short bursts of light to break apart the particles of ink. However, this doesn't work as well on some colours as it does on others. Darker colours appear to be able to be removed much easier and in a shorter period of time. This is because darker colours absorb more of the light.

Due to the brightness of the light, some discomfort or pain can be experienced while having a tattoo removed. Although some people experience just a light tingling sensation, others have said to go through a large amount of pain and think that having their tattoo removed was worse than having it done in the first place.

Getting a tattoo removed can be a lengthy and painful experience, but this all depends on things like the size and colour of your tattoo. Having the tattoo removed can also leave scaring due the the heat from the laser and the damage done to the dermis. So for some people it's really just a choice between a tattoo or a scar.

Aftercare and recovery

After having a tattoo removed in most cases you can resume your normal activities immediately afterwards. However, it is important to be careful and follow the patient care instructions provided.Typically patients will experience mild discomfort for anywhere between 24 – 48 hours after initial treatment. During this time the area where the tattoo was removed will crust over and eventually fall off with time.

Your tattoo will slowly fade over the weeks during a process of natural healing of your body, while the white blood cells slowly remove the ink from the dermis and expel it from the body.

Results may vary from person to person and may require additional sessions to achieve the desired results.

Pros and cons of tattoo removal

pros

  • There is now more options for tattoo removal other than the barbaric method of burning a tattoo off or cutting it out.

  • Mistakes can be rectified. So if your artist makes a mistake or if you just hate your tattoo, it can be removed.

  • Tattoo removal is done by trained medical professionals.

  • Highly effective treatment with minimal side effects.

  • There is a non-surgical method of removal.

Cons

  • Tattoo removal requires multiple sessions. Usually it is twice as many sessions as it took to get the tattoo done in the first place.

  • Scarring can occur as well as slight discolouration of the skin.

  • Removal can be painful for some people and some discomfort can be experienced after a session, as well as pin point bleeding.

To wrap things up...

Although tattoos have become increasingly popular over the years at least there are now options available for those drunken mistakes. Tattoo removal is still pretty pricey and can be a long, painful process so remember to think before you ink!

Sources

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