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Are tattoos forever? this is what the medicine says

While sometimes a tattoo is intended to last a lifetime, sometimes tastes, fashions, and even people can change over the years.

That is why one can come to hate a tattoo that they used to adore, like that flower on the shoulder, the tribal one on the back or, worse still, the name of an ex that is still engraved on the skin.

The point is that at the moment, and fortunately, medical technology allows many of these tattoos to be removed, a trend that is gaining more and more followers.

“Years ago, removing a tattoo was almost a utopia due to the costly and lengthy treatments. In addition, a mark-free result was not always achieved. Now we have a highly efficient laser that allows us to recover clean skin without a trace of the past, ”says Cristina Álvarez, an expert in aesthetics and co-founder of the centers that bear her name, located in Madrid.

“When a patient decides that they want to remove a tattoo from their skin, it is important that they are well informed and aware of the process of the tattoo itself, how the laser works, what particularities each ink has, etc,” adds Álvarez.

However, “having reliable information about all of this will make you feel safe before the treatment and that you know how to choose the right technology and professionals so that it is safe and effective,” says Dr. Mercè Campoy, a specialist in aesthetic medicine and laser treatments, as well as the author of a medical guide to laser tattoo removal.

Dr. Campoy emphasizes the importance of knowing the procedure by which the drawings are made on the skin. In this sense, she explains that, when making a tattoo, the skin is injured to deposit ink particles in the dermis.

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Dr. Mercé Campoy in her clinic. GIVEN PHOTO.

These particles are large enough that the immune system cannot absorb and remove them, so the pattern can last a lifetime.

The specialist explains that, with the laser, shock waves with enough energy are sent to break the ink particles and make them smaller so that the body can send macrophages and they can eliminate them through the lymphatic system.

Macrophages are cells of the immune system that ingest bacteria and other substances foreign to the body. In this way, it can be said that the laser helps the body continue a natural process.

“It is not the laser that removes the tattoo, but our own body,” emphasizes Dr. Campoy, and to remove a tattoo several sessions are needed, it is not possible to do it all at once.

The total number of sessions depends on multiple factors because, on the one hand, each person’s body, its macrophages and its lymphatic system is different from the rest. On the other hand, it is not the same to remove a professional tattoo, an amateur one, a cover (a tattoo that modifies another previous tattoo), a tribal or a blurred one.

Thus, the expert states that the main factors that influence the tattoo removal process are: the type of ink used by the tattoo artist (density, chemical composition, size of the pigments, etc.); the area of ​​the body where the tattoo is located, since in areas with more blood supply fewer sessions are needed and the age of the tattoo, since the older it is, the better it responds to the laser.

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tattoos
. To remove a tattoo several sessions are needed, it is not possible to do it in one go. EFE/André Coelho

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Are tattoos forever? this is what the medicine says

It is understood that a tattoo is recent up to 3 years and, from the age of 5, it begins to be considered old. The colors of the tattoo are also fundamental to the erasure process. Dr. Campoy points out that black is always the easiest to erase.

Similarly, Dr. Donís Muñoz, dermatologist and author of the book “Treatise on tattoos. Keys to laser elimination”, indicates that the difficulty in erasing the different colors depends on the type of Q-Switched laser used.

However, black, dark blue, and red are the easiest to erase. On the other hand, lighter colors such as yellow, light blue or white tend to be more difficult.

Regarding the color red, Dr. Muñoz warns that it is the one that most frequently causes abnormal reactions and unwanted effects, both shortly after getting a tattoo and in the long term.

On the contrary, black is “the safest and it is exceptional that it presents adverse effects”, he points out.

In this sense, the specialists explain that between a laser session to erase a tattoo and the next one, it is necessary to allow time to pass.

“The minimum interval between sessions is between 6 and 8 weeks, although the longer the interval between them, the better results will be obtained while a smaller number of sessions may be needed. Another factor to take into account is the urgency that the user may have to remove their tattoo. In fact, sometimes, the interval between sessions is conditioned by demands of force majeure of a work, sentimental nature, etc.”, details the dermatologist.

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After each of the sessions a series of care is needed. Dr. Campoy explains that, at the end of each one, the skin is hydrated and cured.

During the following days “an antibiotic ointment will be applied every 8 hours. In addition, the tattoo must be covered to avoid sun exposure, ”he emphasizes. Likewise, the specialist highlights the importance of keeping the skin hydrated.

Regarding other procedures to remove tattoos without laser, Dr. Campoy states that methods such as dermabrasion, salabrasion, surgery, acids, creams or freezing are “obsolete treatments”.

The specialist warns that they can produce “thickened scars, cause infections and skin discoloration and do not guarantee the desired results. In general, they are treatments that we do not recommend. The most appropriate method for tattoo removal is laser”, she concludes.

With information from EFE.

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