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What is a tattoo, how is it removed?

Tattoo, also known as tatuaj, has existed since ancient times. Tattoo marks have been found on mummies from ancient Egypt. Since then, people have been getting tattoos for religious, cultural and cosmetic reasons. Today, tattoos are mostly made for cosmetic purposes and this number is quite high. It is estimated that approximately 1 million people in our country have tattoos and 20 thousand new people are added to it every year. The exact number is not known exactly. Because although it is so common, legal regulations, records and inspections related to tattooed places are insufficient.

Tattoo is done by drawing a permanent pattern by processing the dye into the lower layers of the skin with a needle. The paint particles used are large, so the patterns made are permanent because they cannot be broken down by the body. The paints used in tattoo application are not inspected, and the paints have not been approved by the international FDA as harmless to health. Therefore, first of all, people who are considering getting a tattoo should consider these issues.

Another important issue; dyeing under the skin is a bloody procedure, the needles used should be disposable. If a needle sticks into the paint, blood may contaminate the paint, the paint may become infected, and it should not be used on another person. It is important to avoid infections such as blood-borne hepatitis.

Chemical peels, dermabrasion (sanding), surgical cutting and laser treatments can be used to remove unwanted tattoos. In all peeling, dermabrasion and surgical removal procedures, permanent scars remain on the skin when going down to the tattoo depth. Considering that these procedures leave more or less scars, Q-switched lasers are the best alternative for people who want to remove their tattoos.

What will people who have tattooed but want to remove do? With the current technology of tattoo removal, the safest, most effective are Q-switched lasers. There are Q-switched lasers of different wavelengths according to the color of the dye. The easiest to come off are dark colors like black and dark blue. Light colors such as white and yellow are very difficult, they may not come out completely. The most commonly used laser; It is a Q-switched Nd yag laser that affects black and dark colors.

The best lasers for tattoo removal are lasers that shoot in picoseconds. However, these devices are unfortunately not yet available in Turkey as they are mostly new and expensive. After picosecond lasers, the most effective lasers are Q-switched lasers, which fire in nanoseconds. In this way, it targets the paint particles in the skin without harming the skin. The laser beam is caught by the paint particles, converted into heat. The heated paint particles break down. Thus, the body’s scavenger cells called macrophages remove the paint particles from the environment and ensure that the tattoo is removed. The applied laser treatment does not harm the skin when given in the appropriate dose. Laser treatment at appropriate doses does not cause burns or scars on the skin.

Unfortunately, tattoo removal with Q-switched lasers is not a process that ends in a single session. Multiple sessions are required. 4-6 weeks should pass between two sessions. The reason for the time between the sessions is the necessity to wait for the time to remove the particles of the dyes that disintegrate after each session. Laser treatment is not a very painful procedure, but analgesic creams and cold application will increase comfort in sensitive people. After the procedure, it is sufficient to use moisturizing creams on the area. It can be seen immediately that the paint particles break down during the process. The laser shot area immediately turns white. The fact that the area where the laser shot will be made is not bronze makes the process easier. Therefore, it is recommended that patients protect themselves from the sun before and after laser tattoo removal.

But unfortunately, tattoo removal is not as easy as getting it done. Even if the Q-switched laser is used, tattoo removal is a laborious process that requires long sessions. The number of sessions to be applied varies according to the color and depth of the paint, the age of the tattoo, and the place of application. Dark-colored amateur tattoos require less sessions and are easier to remove. Professional tattoos are more difficult to remove as they go deeper. Multi-colored tattoos and overlapping tattoos are very difficult. It takes a lot of sessions, in the end they can only lighten and stay in shadow. Laser tattoo removal is more difficult in areas where the skin is thin, such as the neck and custody, since it does not apply high joules. The more time has passed since the tattoo has been made, the easier it will be to remove. Because the body’s defense cells are already working to remove the dye from the environment. As a result, although the tattoo removal process varies from person to person, approximately 4-10 sessions should be applied. Although Q-switched lasers are the best way to remove tattoos, colored, deeply engraved, and superimposed tattoos may not be completely removed and may remain in shadow.