Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tattooing Procedure

The body art of tattooing mainly involves the procedure of injecting one or more pigments into the dermis, the layer of connective tissue that lies just below the epidermis. After the pigment is injected into the skin, the immune system's phagocytes get activated in the epidermis and upper dermis, swallowing up the pigment particles. The result is that the pigment goes down, throughout a homogenized damaged layer. As the particular body part undergoes healing process, the damaged epidermis starts flaking away. 

With the flaking of epidermis, the pigment on the surface of the skin starts fading away. However, the deeper layers of skin experience the formation of granulation tissue. In time, owing to collagen growth, they get converted into connective tissues, mending the upper dermis. Since the upper dermis has pigment trapped within fibroblasts, its healing leads to the pigment in the layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary. Soon, the pigment becomes stable and with the passing time, engrains pigment deeper into the dermis, forming the tattoo. 

Traditional Procedures
In the earlier times, all the societies and cultures made use of different procedures for tattooing purposes. Some of these traditional procedures continue till date. For instance, in some tribal societies, tattoos are created by cutting designs into the skin and putting ink, ashes or other coloring agents into the wounds. In other cultures, tattoo making involves beating ink into the skin, using sharpened sticks or animal bones. Another tattooing method, mainly used in Japan, is called tebori. In this method, tattooing involves hand poking i.e. inserting the ink under the skin, with the help of non-electrical tools, which are handmade and handheld and have needles made of honed bamboo or steel. 

The Modern Method
Today, the most common method of tattooing comprises of the use of electric tattooing machines. Apart from making the tattooing procedure much simpler, the machines have also increased its ease. The machine comprises of a group of needles that are soldered onto a bar. The bar has an oscillating unit attached to it. In the modern method, the ink is inserted into the skin, through the needles, which are repeatedly driven and out of the skin, somewhere between 80 and 150 times in a second. 

The modern method of tattooing is much more hygienic as well as sterile as compared to the traditional methods. The needles used for the purpose are disposable in nature and come in individual packages. In the present times, almost all the tattoo artists take care to wash their hands as well as the 'area to be tattooed'. At the same time, they wear gloves and wipe the wound frequently, to prevent any infection or allergy. Still, one cannot completely do away with the risks involved with tattooing.

Tattooing Cost

The artists, who charge by the hour, generally charge between 75 and 150 dollars per hour. However, the leading artists may charge even more than that. Most of the tattoos cost a minimum of fifty dollars, but can cost upto thousands of dollars over numerous tattoo sessions, according to the tattoo design. A base is required even for the very small tattoos done, keeping the cost and preparation of the equipment in mind. 

Tattoo Removal Methods 

Laser surgery is considered to be one of the best methods of tattoo removal. In this method, first of all, a cream or gel is applied on the skin, to make it numb. Thereafter, laser light is targeted at the tattoo ink. As a result, the ink breaks into tiny fragments, which are removed by the scavenger cells (immune system) of the body, with time. However, you need to undertake the laser treatment more than once, to be fully effective. 

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
The latest as well as one of the most popular methods of tattoo removal, today, is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL). It is almost like the laser therapy, the only difference being that in IPL, instead of the laser, high intensity light is used to break down the ink into tiny fragments. This method is believed to be less painful than laser therapy and much more effective as well. However, the IPL method is also quite expensive. 

Surgical Excision
The excision method of tattoo removal is more useful when the tattooed area is comparatively small. Though it is used in case of larger tattoos as well, in that case, the entire procedure has to be carried out in a phased manner. In this method, local anesthesia is applied to numb the tattooed area, after which the tattoo is removed with a scalpel. The edges are then brought together and stitched well. Excision method helps in complete elimination of tattoos and involves minimal bleeding. 

Dermabrasion is yet another effective method of tattoo removal. This particular method involves freezing of the tattooed part, by spraying it with a solution. After freezing the area, an abrasive instrument is used to mechanically remove or 'sand' the upper layers of the skin. Thereafter, the area is bandaged. The new layer of remodeled skin, which replaces the 'sanded' skin after some time, has a smooth and revived appearance, devoid of the tattoo.

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