The tattoo you got when you were 18 doesn’t seem like such a great idea now that you’re 35+ – especially if you have a professional job.
Even though you may have regrets about said tattoo, you may be even more apprehensive about having your ink art removed.
But French scientists have made a discovery that may make tattoo removal easier in the future. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine explains why tattoo ink isn’t sloughed away with the dead skin cells we all lose each day as our top layer regenerates. The researchers found that the skin cells that make tattoos permanent by hanging on to pigment pass the ink on to new cells when they die, STAT reported.
Scientists who tattooed mice found that macrophages in the skin, immune cells that absorb invading microbes, swallow up and hold on to tattoo pigments. But even when they killed the inked cells, the tattoos still looked the same.
That’s because when the macrophages die, they release the tattoo ink and neighbouring cells gobble it up, the researchers discovered. And understanding this continuous cycle of pigment capture, release, and recapture could lead to developing better tattoo removal methods.
At Lasermed, tattoos can be removed using Q Switched ND YAG – the only one in Cape Town. Undesirable tattoos can now be effectively removed without scar formation or pigmentary changes. Black, blue and green respond well. Red, orange and yellow may fade.
Three to 15 treatments are needed, although one cannot guarantee complete removal of a tattoo.