The oldest known tattoo was found on Otzi the Iceman dated from 3300 B.C. Ancient methods of tattooing included using needles, bamboo shoots and sharp tools to introduce ink into the skin. Tattoos have been used to represent military accomplishments, life events, religion and many other things.
Tattoo removal hurts more than getting the tattoo. The ink is deposited in the deep layer of the skin and is permanent unless aggressively removed surgically or with a laser.
Modern professional tattooing is done with machines that pump the ink into the skin. Amateur tattoos are still often applied with needles and may involve “ink” made of melted down Styrofoam, colored pencils, dirt, rubber tires or pen ink.
The body recognizes tattoo ink as foreign matter and tries to clear it. That is why tattoos naturally fade with time. The laser works by breaking down the ink particles into smaller pieces so the body’s natural immune system clears the smaller pieces of ink in an accelerated timeline.
The average tattoo size in Massachusetts is 3” X 3” and requires 5 – 10 laser sessions for complete removal. A small tattoo may cost $1000 – $3000 to remove and take several months. Insurance does not cover tattoo removal.
Laser machines for tattoo removal have 3 different frequencies. The frequency used depends on the color of the tattoo. Lasers are safe and have FDA mandated protections (including goggles) that remove virtually all risks if used as intended. The goggles must be worn by everyone in the tattoo removal room including the patient.
People get “tattoo regret” for lots of reasons:
- Tattoo no longer fits lifestyle
- The name tattooed on skin is no longer appropriate
- Tattoo poorly done
- Don’t want their kids to see it
- Want to remove one tattoo to make room for another
Think before you get that permanent decoration!