Getting tattooed is a big decision, maybe even be life-changing, and definitely one that’s not to be taken lightly. But in today’s society, where social media feeds on displays of self-expression, well let’s just say that getting inked isn’t that big a deal anymore. Then again, while more people are getting tattooed now than 10 years ago, even more are turning to laser tattoo removal.
In this blog, we’re giving you a lowdown on the “whys” and “why-nots” of getting tattooed, and the “how” of getting rid of body ink. But whatever the reason or rhyme being a person’s choice to get a tattoo, it’s an intimate and personal decision that deserves respect and no judgment.
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So, why get a tattoo? The reasons are as varied as the designs themselves. People get inked to commemorate a milestone or preserve a memory; for attention or artistic expression; as a personal narrative or a form of spiritual/religious devotion. These are the kinds of tattoos that were carefully considered and are least likely to be regretted.
Some people got themselves inked to get over their inhibitions or enhance their confidence. In fact, research shows that tattooing has psychosocial aspects, particularly in how one’s self-image is altered as a result of getting inked. One study even reveals an increase in self-esteem and body appreciation, and a significant decrease in anxiety, were observed in both men and women who just got tattooed.
And then there are the tattoos that people got on a drunken impulse or due to peer pressure. The rash decisions made as a form of rebellion, romantic overture, or reasons known only to them. These are the tattoos that people usually regret a few weeks or months down the road.
What happens when you’re getting tattooed? Multiple tiny needles are puncturing the skin, essentially injecting the pigment from the surface of the skin (epidermis) down to the dermis beneath it. The tattoo machine works similarly to a sewing machine, where needles prick the skin repeatedly and insert tiny ink droplets into every puncture.
The process in itself creates a risk for infection and inflammation, so it’s not unusual for some people to develop an allergic reaction after getting a tattoo even years later. The most common allergies are due to the ink, says the Mayo Clinic, specifically those containing plastic. Red, yellow, blue, and green pigments tend to be the most allergenic.
An allergic reaction to ink usually manifests as rashes, hives, redness, swelling, severe itchiness, or a slight burning sensation. If the tattoo doesn’t heal properly, scarring could occur or you could get keloids, where raised bumps develop, containing old scar tissue.
It’s quite interesting that the moment the ink enters the body, the immune system recognizes it as a foreign material and tries to get rid of it. White blood cells converge to engulf the pigment granules. But the cells are way smaller than most of the granules—that’s why tattoos are practically permanent.
However, most people heal well from tattoos, and most adverse reactions to ink don’t last long. Point is, nobody really knows how they’d react to getting inked—physically and psychologically—until they actually get tattooed.
Nearly 40 percent of millennials have tattoos while only 6 percent of the previous generations got inked. Thanks (or no thanks) to the proliferation of social media, tattoos have become more of a fad than the highly personal statement it should be.
For women, a tattoo of somebody else’s name is the most regretted kind, according to various research. On the other hand, most men found that tribal-themed designs are the ones they wish they never got inked with in the first place.
In Singapore, most tattoo parlors have a minimum age requirement of 18, which is about the time people got the tattoo they regretted the most. It’s between ages 18 and 21 that people get high on the first taste of independence, when we assert ourselves as new adults, hence, the impulsive decisions.
For better or worse, we’re all guilty of making impulsive choices, and that’s fine! So, if you’ve outgrown your tat or it doesn’t fit your personality and lifestyle anymore, then laser tattoo removal is an option.
In tattoo removal, the objective is to break down the tattoo ink pigment into the smallest possible particles. A laser tattoo removal procedure is performed using medical lasers at dermatology clinics or aesthetics facilities. You could opt to have your ink erased or lightened to the point where it’s barely visible. You can also get a “fade” procedure to partially erase your ink and have your artist tattoo over it.
The machine shoots rapid pulses to the tattooed area, with each pulse sending light energy into the skin. And as the ink particles absorb heat, they shatter into tiny fragments. The tattoo lightens as the body flushes out the ink particles, but this doesn’t happen in one go. You’ll need follow-up treatments and recovery time to get the tat removed entirely.
For removing tattoos, our patients at The Aesthetics Centre find that the PicoWay laser produced a satisfactory effect. We provide this kind of treatment using the FDA-approved PicoWay™ device marketed by Candela™.
PicoWay is a current laser tattoo removal procedure intended to be performed by licensed professionals. It comes in three wavelengths (532nm, 785nm, and 1064nm), which determine (1) the depth of penetration that the laser has on the dermis; (2) the pigments that the laser can treat; and (3) and the skin type that the laser can work on.
It’s known to have a fast operating laser at 300ps on the 785nm wavelength. The speed of the laser is what generates a photoacoustic shockwave. This photoacoustic energy is what shatters the pigments into very tiny fragments. The more miniscule the particle, the easier it is to remove and the faster it is for the body to pass out naturally.
The laser is delivered onto the skin at a trillionth of a second or what’s called a picosecond. At the rapid speed at which light is beamed onto the area, there’s not enough time for the skin to absorb the heat and damage to the surrounding tissue is avoided.
Before getting a tattoo, mull it over, let the idea sit, and imagine yourself living with that ink 10, even 20 years from now. If there’s anything we’ve learned from our laser tattoo removal patients, it’s that tattoo regret grows over time.
Feeling the pangs of tattoo regret? Book your private consultation with us today and we’ll extensively evaluate your case. To get you started on a solution to your unwanted tattoos, fill up the form below.