Clean Slate: How The Latest Lasers Are Erasing Tattoos

Tattoos date back more than five thousand years, and were used to identify soldiers, mark slaves, criminals, and in some parts of the world, used to indicate social rank, political status and religious authority. Western civilization first discovered skin inking in 1681, after months of raids on Spanish settlements, Lionel Wag=fer, a pirate surgeon, documented skin pricks with thorns followed by ink staining in Cuna Indians while recuperating from an injury which left him immobile for several months. Fascinating at first, but Wafer noticed that this method of staining the skin was permanent, and in all his best efforts as a doctor, could not effectively remove the tattooed pigments, even after much scarring of the skin with tattoo removal attempts.


Why Are Tattoos Permanent?

Ever wondered why getting a tattoo means it’s forever? According to medical science, when we have a tattoo, macrophages travel to the tattooed site and start eating up the ink. Other cells also suck up the tattoo ink but can’t do anything with it, living in that layer of the skin permanently.

In other words, the human body thinks it is under attack when we ink it, and generates biological reactions that allow the ink to live forever in our skin.


Ink Regret And Laser Tattoo Removals – Is There An Easier Way Out?

Having tattoo regret and envisioning burning your skin with a hot metal probe? Stop it. Firstly, remember I said that the body fights the tattoo because it thinks it is under attack? Well, you may be heartened to know that this process is lifelong, so tattoos lose their intensity over time. The problem is that the amount of fading is never really enough to erase the tattoo completely.

The good news is tattoos can be removed with lasers, in particular, the nd:yag Q-switched nanosecond lasers were all the rave several decades ago when it made its debut as a treatment that could remove black and coloured tattoos without actually breaking skin. But this is by no means the imagined “easy” way out, and most patients with elaborate, multicoloured tattoos frequently describe the treatment as worse than the process of getting inked in the first place. Next, the cost can be staggering. It is generally more expensive and much more time-consuming to remove a tattoo than to get one.

The advent of picosecond lasers has indeed revolutionized laser tattoo removal treatments, with very low downtimes and more efficient treatments. Efficiency translates to less treatments and less discomfort, in case you were wondering.

Known as the photoacoustic effect, a picosecond laser targets pigmentation under the skin, leaving surrounding skin intact and unharmed. Its ultra-short pulse duration combined with high peak power effectively pulverize pigments to a fine dust, making pigment clearance by the body more swift and efficient, so you can have less treatments, faster tattoo clearance and less pain.


Tattoo Removal – Where To Start?

If you went to a tattoo artist for your tattoo, would you go to an untrained person to remove it? Laser tattoo removal requires expertise, because it can break the skin and it can leave wounds infected if done carelessly. So your best bet would be to go to a medical professional, who has the picosecond laser.While older treatments hardly gave tattoo removal hopefuls a clean slate, the picosecond laser shows much more promise in this respect.

But until laser tattoo removal becomes on par with getting tattoos inked itself, it is probably best to think, before you ink.

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