[By Sarimah Alsagoff]

Tattoos often seem like a good idea in the moment when you wanted to get yourself some skin graffiti, but tattoo regret is just as common. According to a nation-wide Harris poll done in America in 2016, almost half of people between 18 and 35 have tattoos, and almost one in four regrets it. Based on an estimate of about 60 million people in that age group, that would mean that about 7.5 million people have tattoo regret. Amongst those with tattoo regret, many were done at the spur of the moment when they were young, and at that time put little or no research into their decision. The bad thing about tattoos is that it is a real pain when it comes tattoo removal. There are new procedures being developed every day, but all of them are either too painful, way too expensive and take eons of time. But if you really need to get it done, read on to find out more about what you should know about tattoo removal.

Cover up while saving up

Let’s not be pitter patter about this and get this right from the start. Lasers are by far the safest and most effective way to deal with unwanted tattoos, and is the only way to go if you want to have appreciable result without destroying the skin over which the tattoo was inked. The laser creates short pulses of intense energy that target the pigment in your tattoo, causing the pigment in the ink to fragment, and thus allows your body’s immune system to remove the ink from your skin. As this is repeated over several sessions, your tattoo will fade and eventually disappear. This can be a long drawn process that’ll proved to be heavy on your pockets, and you’ll probably need to cover up while saving up if the unwanted skin graffiti really irks you.

These makeup gems are not like normal concealers, but are specially formulated for tattoo cover ups. One of the best ones available in the market is the one formulated by the famous tattoo artist Kat Von D. It’s called ‘Lock-it Tattoo concealer’ and is available in most Sephora stores in a wide selection of skin tone with one that’ll bound to match yours.

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Same same but different

No two tattoos are alike and we are not talking about the aesthetics aspect of them. There are many factors that govern how a tattoo will look after it’s healed, and just as many that determine its ease or should I say, difficulty of removal. The number of treatments required to remove a tattoo depends upon several factors including size, location, color, depth, how the tattoo was applied, and length of time it has been on the skin. A tattoo performed by a more experienced tattoo artist, for example, may be easier to remove since the pigment is evenly injected in the same level of the skin.Well-inked tattoos heal well while lower quality one’s heal more slowly when they were first administered and can result in scarring, even if it is not visible to the naked eye. Tattoo removal is naturally more tedious when scar tissue is involved.

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Red is not green nor blue

All tattoo artists use a variety of compounds to create tattoo pigment. The trouble is tattoo artists can’t determine the exact composition of each tattoo pigment. The type and quality of the ink used as well as the color itself will affect the outcome of laser tattoo removal. Common inks include homemade concoctions, Henna, Kuro Sumi, Intenze, plus many more. Some compounds in ink, such as beryllium, are hard to laser remove.Contrary to what you might think, darker inks are actually easier to remove than lighter inks, with black and dark blue ink being the easiest to remove. Most traditional lasers such as the Nd:Yag struggle to remove green, pale blue, and yellow, but the newer of  generation of pico pigment lasers can tackle these colours much more effectively.

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Not all lasers are created equal

Early attempts to remove tattoos with lasers have had less than desirable results. The use of ablative Argon or CO2 lasers successfully removed unwanted tattoos, only to replace them with unsightly scars as normal un-inked skin tissue are non-selectively destroyed during the procedure. The advent of Q switched Nd:Yag lasers in the last decade or so has permitted the removal of most tattoo inks with a very low risk of scarring, but the Picosecond Nd:Yag laser, however, has revolutionized treatment of tattoos altogether.

Picosecond Nd:Yag lasers has been shown to be vastly superior to traditional Q-switched Nd:Yag lasers when used as a pigment laser for tattoo removal. Traditional Nd:YAG Q-Switched lasers are capable of delivering 10-nanosecond pulses. Because common black pigment particles used in tattoos have thermal relaxation times of less than 10 nanoseconds, the traditional Nd:YAG Q-Switched lasers may not be the most efficient in tattoo removal.

Superior Photoacoustic Effect of the Discovery PICO Plus Laser. Pigments are pulverized instead of large piece fragmentation with traditional Q-Switched Lasers, resulting in more efficient tattoo clearance and overall reduction in number of sessions required.

Picosecond pulsing enables the “PICO Dusting Effect”, which is pulverization of tattoo pigments using ultra-short, picosecond laser pulses to shatter ink particles at high pressure. This photo acoustic effect breaks tattoo inks into a fine dust cloud, with dust particles tinier than those fragmented by traditional nanosecond Nd:Yag lasers. Pulverized pigments are absorbed much more efficiently, resulting in speedier elimination of the ink particles by the body. The ultra-short bursts also mean even lesser thermal damage to surrounding normal tissue, thus there is lesser erythema and swelling compared to its traditional counterpart, dramatically reducing the risks of scarring.The Discovery PICO Plus Laser is able to work in picosecond pulses, harnessing triple laser wavelengthsat 532 nm, 694nm and 1064 nm in both pico and nano-second pulses,targeting different coloured inks effectively. With the added 694 nm Ruby laser, even notoriously stubborn tattoo ink colors can now be safely treated, placing it well above its peers for laser tattoo removal.

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