Every letter you consider

Reformed bald head Bryon Widner undergone 25 surgeries to remove tattoos on face, neck and hands. Credit: AP/CBS News.

Perhaps there is no better embodiment of regret than a bad tattoo. ‘Bad’ in this case can have many meanings. Maybe the artist failed miserably; What was supposed to be a majestic lion turns out to be a mutant kitty cat seen from your shoulder. Or perhaps the name of your soulmate that was supposed to be engraved on your arm is no longer relevant since you broke up. In fact, there are so many reasons why people might change their hearts and want a change of mind that they consider permanent.

Fortunately, that’s where tattoo removal procedures come into play. However, it will cost you a lot of money, time and a lot of pain. In some cases, the procedure can leave a scar.

Why tattoos are ‘permanent’

Green tattoo pigment is taken up by dermal macrophages (left). Pigment is released when these cells are killed (center), but 90 days later, is reintroduced into new macrophages replacing the old cells (right). Credit: Baranska et al., 2018.

The same biological property that allows tattoos to stay on your skin indefinitely also explains why they are so difficult to remove, even with modern laser technology.

When a tattoo needle punctures the skin, it rips through the epidermis (outer layer of skin) and pours ink into the dermis (inner layer of skin), which is filled with blood vessels. and nerves. When a tattoo gun pushes a needle into the skin up to 150 times per second, it activates pain receptors while delivering microscopic amounts of ink into the dermis. The immune system, sensing a wound that allows foreign entry, is immediately primed, which sends immune cells called macrophages to clean up the mess.

True to their name, which means ‘big predator’ in Greek, macrophages flock to the injured site, devour the squid, and lay suspended in the dermis. After they die, the macrophages pass the ink on to their substitutes. French researchers wrote in a study published in the journal Journal of Experimental Medicine. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that a tattoo is a permanent source of infection. Just don’t use this line on the first day.

How to remove tattoos

Since the ink-free macrophages are what make up the tattoo, the scientists proposed eliminating unwanted tattoos by activating certain other immune cells to pick up the ink and deliver it to the body. lymph nodes, to carry away in the lymph fluid. But this is just an idea for now.

Momentarily, the most widely used tattoo removal procedures involve firing extremely short laser pulses onto ink particles to disrupt them. The lasers fire a pulse every trillionth of a second, delivering a lot of energy to the particles for a very short period of time. This procedure is called photothermal and is exactly the same procedure used in laser hair removal.

Once the ink particles – which can be made of titanium dioxide, lead, chromium, nickel, iron oxide, ash, carbon black and other ingredients – are broken down by the laser, the rest is transported by white blood cells. transferred to the liver. Even without the laser breaking the ink, white blood cells always move a small amount of ink particles away from the tattoo site. However, they are too small to swallow whole ink particles, so their impact is minimal. However, they cause the tattoo to fade over time and lose its luster.

Black tattoos are the easiest tattoos to remove because the dark ink absorbs almost all laser wavelengths. Color pigments need to be treated by firing lasers at certain frequencies, which often require more time to remove.

Before and after a laser tattoo removal. There’s more. Credit: ChronicInkTattoo.

Depending on the size and pigment used in the ink, a tattoo can take anywhere from two to ten times to completely remove from the skin. The laser removes some particles, then the skin needs to heal before the laser can break up the new skin particles. Between each treatment, the skin needs to heal for several weeks, so this can take a long time. In fact, a complete tattoo removal can take up to two years.

Laser tattoo removal isn’t the only option on the table, but it certainly beats the alternatives. Alternatively, you can try dermabrasion, which involves sanding the cuticle or surgically removing the tattooed skin and stitching the remaining skin back together.

How painful is tattoo removal?

While laser tattoo removal is a painful experience, chances are it won’t as much as tattoos. The laser pulses feel like an elastic band tied to the skin and the result is a severe sunburn sensation. All deeply irritating, but tolerable.

Even so, everyone doesn’t experience pain the same way, so the experience can be very different. You will pay if you work with a trained dermatologist, who can tailor the treatment to your comfort level or apply a local anesthetic to numb the pain.

And just like getting a tattoo in the first place, location is also important when it comes to pain tolerance because the sensitive pain receptors are not evenly distributed across the skin. The chest area, forehead, ankles, wrists, and armpits are some of the most painful places to get tattooed and removed.

To eliminate as much pain as possible, a topical numbing cream or even ice on the tattoo before your appointment can help. After the treatment, it is necessary to use sunscreen to prevent damage to the treated skin area, which will be vulnerable for the next four weeks. With this in mind, you should use sunscreen regularly regardless of whether you are considering tattoo removal or not. Some clinics will refuse to remove tattoos that have been exposed to a lot of sun.

Bleeding may occur during laser removal, however, these are minor needle pricks that will clear up on their own within a few days. This is nothing to worry about as long as you take precautions and keep the area protected from infection.

The skin that leaves dark spots after laser tattoo removal is not perfect. When laser tattoo removal is performed using top-of-the-line equipment by a trained dermatologist (instead of going to a spa), the chances of scarring are relatively low – but it can happen. However, keep in mind that the tattooing process itself is very traumatic to the skin and can leave scars if the tattooist is inexperienced and pokes too deeply into the skin. You won’t see a scar if both the laser removal and the original tattoo are done perfectly.

For about a week after laser pigment removal, we usually see a bit of whitening that experts in the tattoo industry refer to as ‘frosting’. Once the skin heals, the skin returns to its normal color.

Until not so long ago, tattoos were actually permanent. However, this does not mean that the decision should be taken lightly. Tattoo removal can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and the process is lengthy and painful. So be sure before you get ink on your back by that dragon.

https://www.zmescience.com/other/feature-post/how-tattoos-are-removed-09423/ Every letter you consider

James Brien

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