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Tattoos Are Not Permanent Tribal cultures use tattoos as symbols of hierarchy, honor or bravery. Tattoos serve as badges of kinship for members of elite military groups. In conservative civil society, tattoos are considered “bad taste”, as these are seen as displays of rebellious character, and more often associated with convicts. Tattoos are now usually used “as expressions of self”, with many displaying artistic tattoos as affirmations of affection for someone or as confirmation of a belief in something. Tattoos are now sported by about one of five adults in the US alone according to recent statistics. A large number of people, however, ultimately choose to remove their tattoos due to “tattoo regret”. Tattoos are usually permanent as a result of the ink penetrating several layers of the skin. Removal could be a challenge due to the color and density of ink pigments used. Old tattoos are also usually much easier to take out. Earlier techniques for removing unwanted body design produced scars or skin blemishes that were more unsightly than the tattoo itself. Advances in removal techniques now allow safe “erasure” of tattoos while avoiding ugly scars. With improved laser technology, short pulses of intense light are focused on the tattoo, without affecting tattoo-free skin. The light rays are absorbed through the affected skin layers, targeting the ink pigments. The energy of the laser disperses the ink pigments into tiny particles, which will then be eliminated gradually through the individual’s natural immune response system. Experienced dermatologists execute laser tattoo removal, using the right laser light wavelength for the color and depth of the tattoo. Black or red colored markings are usually easier to work on; other colors absorb laser light selectively, and may take some effort to remove. The dermatologist must ensure the treatment addresses the uniqueness of the tattoo and the characteristics of the individual’s skin. Tattoo removal specialists say that treatment is much easier with individuals having lighter skin tones, as these people are least likely to experience color changes following treatment sessions. For darker skinned people, though, treatment may need to be extended, since they are likelier to experience skin discoloration (known as dischromia). Immediately following treatment, some form of skin discoloration may manifest, the most common being hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin). The skin recovers its normal tone, however, in time with this condition. Lightening can occur (i.e., hypopigmentation) after removal of tattoos with deeper denser inks in darker skin.
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Preferably, people desiring to have tattoo removal should consult their doctors on who to go to for treatment. They can also do an online search for reputable tattoo removal spas operating in their locality that they could contact for further consultation. Many of these clinics usually have testimonials to affirm their success rate at employing “state-of-the-art” laser technology to remove tattoos. However, it is the dermatologist’s proper examination of the tattoo characteristics and the individual’s skin type that will determine the approach for better success at addressing the needs of each individual.Removals: 10 Mistakes that Most People Make