Term Paper: Tattoo Removal the History

Pages: 6 (2266 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Physics  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] For this reason, Tylenol is recommended for any pain relief required in the days prior to laser treatment. Since lasers are a bloodless methods, the side effects are minimal, and infection is not the concern it is with excision, dermabrasion or salabrasion. However, since individual treatments require time to heal, tattoo removal via laser methods are often done in several doctor visits. Laser treatment is most effective in the removal of black tattoo ink, since this pigment absorbs all of the laser wavelengths emitted, instead of only a portion. Green pigments are so difficult to remove because they only absorb a fraction of the laser's pulse. Also, "professionally applied tattoos tend to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin at uniform levels. This uniformity allows dermatologic surgeons to use techniques that remove broader areas of inked skin at the same depth." ("Tattoo Removal," ASDS, 2004). A minimum of three weeks is required between treatments, to allow the body time to get rid of the pigment molecule fragments.

Side effects of tattoo removal vary, depending upon the characteristics of the tattoo, and the method used to remove them. "Side effects are generally minor, but may include skin discoloration at the treatment site, infection of the tattoo site, lack of complete pigment removal, or some scarring. A raised or thickened scar may appear three to six months after the tattoo is removed." ("Tattoo Removal," ASDS, 2004). Some procedures are more painful than others, however, most methods of tattoo removal involve at least some degree of discomfort even if an anaesthetic is used. Infection must be guarded against, especially with the abrasion techniques and excision. This is usually done with a sterile dressing and antiseptic ointments. Although uncommon, there are occasionally some pigmentation side effects with laser treatment. Hyperpigmentation occurs when there is an excess of colour in the area after healing. Hypopigmentation is the reverse condition, although both conditions are uncommon.

Although advances in tattoo removal techniques have made it possible to erase a tattoo very effectively, no method can guarantee perfect results. No matter which method is used, some pigment is likely to remain. Also, if excision, dermabrasion or salabrasion are used, there is likely to be some scarring.

The cost of tattoo removal is another consideration of the procedure. The cost varies with the size and complexity of the tattoo, but generally, removal is much more expensive than getting the tattoo in the first place. This means an ornate tattoo could go into the thousands of dollars to have removed. One exception to this rule is for youth seeking to remove gang-affiliated tattoos. Most gang membership requires some kind of tattooing to denote belonging to the gang. The attempt to escape gangs and start a new life can be hindered by existence of gang-related tattoos. For this reason, there are several non-profit organizations who provide tattoo removal services for free if it involves gang-affiliation tattooing. If it is just a question of having different tastes, or having outgrown a tattoo, then the individual must pay for it. Medical insurance considers tattoo removal a cosmetic procedure and does not cover it.

For optimal tattoo results, people are advised to see an experienced, professional tattoo artist for the work. Similarly, for the removal, physicians specializing in the removal of tattoos, often surgeons or dermatologists should be consulted. All procedures, from excision to abrasions, to laser treatment come with some risks, and a physician with tattoo removal experience is qualified to advise upon the best method, and how to minimize side effects. Occasionally, costs or other considerations force people to consider covering a tattoo instead of removing it. This can involve getting more tattoo work over the original. It can also involve scarification, where the tattooed area is damaged (cut or ripped) in order to promote scarring. This is a pretty desperate measure, and carries risk of infection and disfigurement.

Generally speaking, methods of tattoo removal today are relatively safe and effective. The method chosen depends largely on the specifics of the tattoo, and while they are all quite effective, the skin may never appear exactly the same as it did before the tattoo was applied.


Diaz, M. "Tattoo Removal and its Emotional Impacts." TattooRemoval.org. 2003.

Web site: http://www.tattooremoval.org/EmotionalImpact_TRprocess.htm (August 6, 2004).

How Tattoo Removal Works." Howstuffworks.com. 2004. Web site: http://people.howstuffworks.com/tattoo-removal1.htm (August 6, 2004).

Tattoo History." Tatthoo.com. 2004. Web site: http://www.tatthoo.com/tattoohistory1.htm (August 7, 2004).

Tattoo Removal." American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. 2004. Web site: http://www.asds-net.org/Patients/FactSheets/patients-Fact_Sheet-tattoo_removal.html (August 7, 2004).

Tattoo Removal." Contemporary Health Communications. 2000. Web site: http://patient- info.com/tattoo.htm> (August 6, 2004). [END OF PREVIEW]

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