There’s more than one way to remove tattoos:

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It’s not known when the practice of tattooing began, but Egyptian mummies dating back to 1300 B.C. have shown evidence of blue tattoo marks. Today, for many reasons, people are having tattoos removed. Here’s how:

Dermabrasion: A small portion of the tattoo is sprayed with a solution that freezes the area. The tattoo is then sanded with a rotary abrasive instrument, removing the surface and middle layers of skin.

Excision: An injection of a local anesthetic is applied to numb the area. A surgeon removes the tattoo with a scalpel and closes the wound with stitches. The advantage of this method is that the entire tattoo can be removed. In some cases involving large tattoos, a skin graft from another part of the body may be necessary. Or it may be necessary to excise in stages, removing the center of it initially and the sides at a later date.

Lasers: Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation are short pulses of intense light that pass harmlessly through the top layers of the skin to be selectively absorbed by the tattoo pigment. The laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to fragment into smaller particles that are removed by the body’s immune system. There is a low risk of scarring. Researchers have determined which wavelengths of light to use and how to deliver the laser’s output to best remove tattoo ink. The three lasers developed specifically for use in tattoo removal use a technique known as Q-switching, which refers to the laser’s short, high-energy pulses.

Tat Gone Ink: A neutrally colored inorganic ink composed of the same type of ingredients used in tattoo inks only without pigment. It is designed to diminish permanent cosmetics and is applied with the same equipment used for tattooing. The procedure is a tattoo-over process somewhat like a cover-up. Once applied, the tattoo pigments migrate to the product and dry. Within a week or two, the skin rejects the product and ink. It commonly requires several applications.

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