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Some Facts About Tattoo Removal

Feb 15, 2008
Tattoos have been around since before recorded history. There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians practiced tattooing, and primitive tribes today use tattooing for various tribal rituals as well.

Tattoos are created by making deep holes in the skin and filling them with pigment of some kind. Today's tattoo artists use a tattoo gun with a fast moving needle that applies the ink as they move over a design drawn on the body.

Tattoos are fairly permanent once they are applied, so be sure you want one before you walk into the tattoo parlor. If you really want one, think carefully about the design you're getting.

If you are determined to get a tattoo, choose the parlor carefully. It should be licensed by the state and keep hygienic standards.

Keep the design simple, up to three colors is still fairly easy for a doctor to remove if you find yourself disliking the tattoo in the future.

Think carefully about where you want the tattoo, try to choose someplace that will heal quickly, and is easy to conceal when you need to, like in the workplace. If you suspect an infection, see your doctor as soon as possible before it gets worse.

So, you have your tattoo, and down the road you decide to get it removed. Your doctor will probably refer you to a dermasurgeon for the procedure.

The doctor's choice of removal procedure will depend a lot on the size of the tattoo, the location of the tattoo, and how long you've had it. How your body heals may also factor into his or her decision.

Most tattoo removals will leave at least minor scarring, and maybe color variations in the skin. The success of the removal will depend on the size of the tattoo, the location, the evenness of the pigment and the age of the tattoo.

Excision is used on small tattoos, or in several stages for larger ones. The site is anesthetized, and then the tattoo is excised, or cut away.

The edges of the incision is then brought together and stitched. If this method is used for a large tattoo removal, a skin graft may be needed.

Dermabrasion is a procedure where a solution is sprayed on the tattoo which freezes the area. It is then "sanded" off with a rotary abrasive tool that makes the skin peel.

A dressing is applied afterwards, since some bleeding will happen.

Laser is considered the best method of tattoo removal by many physicians. A cream is rubbed on to numb the skin, and then pulses of laser light is applied, breaking up the pigment.

The healing process will remove the broken up pigment. Laser treatment usually takes more than one visit.

Salabrasion is a centuries-old technique to remove tattoos. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area. Then a solution of water and table salt is applied.

An abrading tool, like the one used in dermabrasion is applied, or sometimes a simple little block of wood covered in gauze is used to abrade the area. When the area turns red, a dressing is applied.
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