from the lifetime-of-regret dept.
Rachel Feltman writes in the Washington Post that if you've never gotten a tattoo, you might think that a tattoo needle works by "injecting" ink under the skin which is true, but doesn't tell the whole story. Tattoo artists don't simply inject ink from some chamber in the machine into your skin. They dip the needles into pots of ink, the same way another artist would dip a brush. The ink is actually held between the needles and the purpose is the needles is to puncture the skin. "There are hundreds of tiny holes leading down to your dermis — the layer of skin between the epidermis (outer layer) and subcutaneous tissues — the ink between the needles is drawn into them by capillary action," writes Kyle Hill. "In short, the surface tension and forces holding the ink together encourages the ink to seep into the holes left by the needles."
So how does tattoo removal work? Although dermabrasion (where skin is "sanded" to remove the surface and middle layers), cryosurgery (where the area is frozen prior to its removal), and excision (where the dermatologic surgeon removes the tattoo with a scalpel and closes the wound with stitches) were the preferred methods before the 1980s, today lasers have become the standard treatment for tattoo removal because they offer a bloodless, low risk, effective alternative with minimal side effects. The type of laser used to remove a tattoo depends on the tattoo's pigment colors. (Yellow and green are the hardest colors to remove; blue and black are the easiest.) By producing short pulses of intense light that pass harmlessly through the top layers of the skin to be selectively absorbed by the tattoo pigment, the laser energy causes the tattoo pigment to fragment into smaller particles that are then removed by the body's immune system. Side effects of laser procedures are generally few but may include hyperpigmentation, or an abundance of color in the skin at the treatment site, and hypopigmentation, where the treated area lacks normal skin color. Other possible side effects include infection of the site, lack of complete pigment removal and a 5 percent chance of permanent scarring.
According to John Tierney the choice to get a tattoo that is later regretted is related to the end-of-history illusion, in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” Teenagers and adults of all ages know that their tastes have changed regularly over the years before the current moment, but believe that their tastes will somehow not continue to grow and mature in the future. As a result, they wrongly believe that any tattoo that appeals to them today will always appeal to them in the future.