The thing with older tattoos is the fact that time eventually wears the tattoo down. After a year or two, you will start to notice that your tattoos are considerably faded than before. Here are some of the reasons why older tattoos are easier to remove.
Believe it or not, your body is constantly rejecting the tattoo! Tattoo ink is a foreign object that has entered your body (in your case, the dermis of the skin). The white blood cells in your immune system, particularly the macrophage, are responsible to remove this foreign object from your body. However, white blood cells are more specifically made to counter microscopic germs, not tattoo ink.
This is the reason why tattoos are permanent. They sit under your dermis and your body cannot reliably get rid of them. The ink molecules are too big for the macrophage to break down and remove from your body. They do so by slowly reducing it in size and removing it bit by bit. This is what causes tattoos to fade over time because the body is constantly rejecting them.
Thus, as your body is slowly reducing the layers of ink on your tattoo, it gets easier to get laser removal of older tattoos. With fewer ink molecules to target, your older tattoos get easier to remove. As it fades, it becomes easier to remove.
Another reason why tattoos fade over time is because of UV rays from the sun. The UV rays are able to penetrate the dermis of your skin where the tattoo ink is. These rays have a particular reaction to the ink, which causes them to break down in the dermis layer and then be removed through the body.
Because of the penetrating powers of UV rays, tattoo ink fades faster with more exposure to the sun. This is the reason why you are told to cover your tattoo with sunscreen to protect it. With less tattoo ink to attack, the easier it gets to remove old tattoo ink with lasers.
Thus, older tattoos become easier to remove because the ink gets slowly broken down over time by your body or by the sun. While it might make tattoo removal easier, there are still many other reasons why tattoo removal is difficult.
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As we have seen earlier tattoo fades over time making them easier to remove. So now let’s look at what other reasons make tattoos difficult to remove in the first place.
The newer the tattoo, the fresher the ink. This is why it is harder to remove new tattoos compared to old tattoos. New tattoos have all the advantages of freshly injected ink into your skin making it harder to break down with lasers. This is why new tattoos are more difficult to remove than older tattoos.
In order to make your tattoo last longer, your tattoo artist will try to pack as much ink as possible in the skin. This is because the first few days, your tattoo ink will leak. To make sure not most of the ink leaks away, layers of ink are created. The more layers on your skin, the longer it will stay. But this will also make it harder to break down with lasers, which is why tattoos with thicker ink are more difficult to remove.
The lasers break down tattoo ink by using a specific wavelength to break up the tattoo ink. Coincidentally, this makes black and other dark inks easier to break down than other colors. Colors such as black, blue, green, and dark brown are the easiest to remove because darker inks like these absorb the laser light more efficiently. Lighter colors such as white, red, and yellow will absorb less light due to the wavelength required.
This is easy to think about than all the other factors which make tattoo removal difficult. The bigger the size, the longer it will take to remove it. As laser removal is a process that needs to be done carefully, the longer it takes also makes it harder is to remove.
Something that you might have not thought about is the location of the tattoo making it difficult to remove. Other than the sensitivity of the skin itself that makes it difficult, the further away from the heart the more difficult it is to remove the tattoo. This is because circulation helps a lot with the removal process.
With the difficulty of removal, comes how long will it take to remove a tattoo. Both the tattoo and the person will determine this, as everyone and every tattoo are different from each other.
If you have a tattoo that is only one color, then the good news is that it’s easier to remove. You will need only one type of laser to help remove all of it. But if you have multiple colors, it will require different types of laser with different intensities to make sure all the ink is removed. These have to prepare beforehand and would make the number of sessions needed to increase, meaning more time is needed to remove it.
As always, the size of the tattoo is relevant to the removal process. The bigger the tattoo, the longer it will take. Sometimes, this might even take a year or two to completely remove a tattoo! Repeated laser treatment has to be properly spaced so the time interval will also increase with it.
Everyone is different in how much pain they can handle. While tattooing is painful in itself, the removal process will also be just as painful if not more! How much you can take will determine the total length and number of sessions. Some might take 5 sessions to remove a tattoo. Others with the same color and similar size might take 15 sessions to remove the tattoo completely! It is dependent on how much pain you can handle.
Some laser tattoo removal takes a long time. But others like the PiQo4 laser will take a shorter amount of time because its intensity is much higher! There is also the case for nanosecond lasers and picosecond lasers, where their penetration levels will differ, being used for different tattoos. Overall, the intensity of the laser and where it targets are what determines the type of laser and the time it would take to remove it.
There are many reasons why people might want to get their tattoos removed. It can range from personal to professional reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons why someone might get their tattoo removed.
Some of these might also be why you might want it removed:
Why are tattoos permanent?
Tattoos are permanent because the body cannot get rid of them from the skin. It might fade over time but it is more or less permanently there on your skin.
Does smoking affect tattoo removal?
Smoking does affect tattoo removal because it will reduce your blood circulation. Reduced blood circulation will mean more time needed to remove the tattoo.
How long before I can get my tattoo removed?
It is advised to have the top layer of the skin completely healed before you can remove a tattoo. This is anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks before it fully heals, depending on how well you have taken care of the tattoo.
How to fix a tattoo without removing it completely?
If don’t want to remove a tattoo, you can do some touch-ups or do a cover-up with a new tattoo. With touch-ups, the artist who had previously done your tattoo artist might even do it for free or at a considerably less price!
Now you know that older tattoo removal is much easier than a new tattoo. The breakdown of the ink pigments is the major factor, where an old tattoo will have fewer pigments to break up in the skin. After it breaks up, the blood vessels take it to the liver and help pass it out of the body. People have different reasons why they would want to get their tattoos removed, and it is completely up to the person to decide. There is no shame in getting rid of a tattoo because you can always get a new tattoo in its place that will help you create newer and better memories!
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