The amount of time required for the removal of a tattoo and the success of the removal varies with each individual and their immune system function. Factors influencing this include: skin type, location, color, amount of ink, scarring or tissue change, layers of ink, immune system function and circulation. Factors under the individuals control are more time between treatments, nutrition, stress, sleep, exercise and fluid levels. In the past health care providers would simply guess on the number of treatments a patient needed which was rather frustrating to patients. A predictive scale, the "Kirby-Desai Scale", was developed by Dr. Will Kirby and Dr. Alpesh Desai, dermatologists with specialization in tattoo removal techniques, to assess the potential success and number of treatments necessary for laser tattoo removal, provided the medical practitioner is using a Q-switched Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet) laser incorporating selective photothermolysis with six weeks between treatments.
Local allergic responses to many tattoo pigments have been reported, and allergic reactions to tattoo pigment after Q-switched laser treatment are also possible. Rarely, when yellow cadmium sulfide is used to "brighten" the red or yellow portion of a tattoo, a photoallergic reaction may occur. The reaction is also common with red ink, which may contain cinnabar (mercuric sulphide). Erythema, pruritus, and even inflamed nodules, verrucose papules, or granulomas may present. The reaction will be confined to the site of the red/yellow ink. Treatment consists of strict sunlight avoidance, sunscreen, interlesional steroid injections, or in some cases, surgical removal. Unlike the destructive modalities described, Q-switched lasers mobilize the ink and may generate a systemic allergic response. Oral antihistamines and anti-inflammatory steroids have been used to treat allergic reactions to tattoo ink.
Always pay attention to whatever the tattoo artist tells you, and do exactly what he or she instructs. If the artist is a professional, they will definitely know what kind of product and healing technique works the best for their own creation. Remember that if you change the aftercare for whatever reason it may be, the artist won’t be obliged to touch up your tattoo free of charge. It’s ultimately up to you to take care of your tattoo, once you leave the studio.
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Surveys of tattoo removal patients were done in 1996 and 2006 and provided more insight. Of those polled, the patients who regretted their tattoos typically obtained their tattoos in their late teens or early twenties, and were evenly distributed by gender. Among those seeking removals, more than half reported that they "suffered embarrassment". A new job, problems with clothes, and a significant life event were also commonly cited as motivations. Tattoos that were once a symbol of inclusion in a group, such as a gang, can make it difficult to become employed. Tattoos that indicate a significant relationship such as a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, can become problematic if the relationship ends. Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, Marc Anthony and Denise Richards are some of the celebrities that have had this kind of tattoo removed.