Tattooing has been around for centuries and has been in and out of fashion several times. Tattoos were traditionally carried out manually, by cutting the designs into the skin and rubbing the wound with ink, ashes or other coloring agents. Nowadays, it is still possible to have it done this way, but more often, it is an electric tattoo machine that does the work. In either case, the basic principle is the same: pigment is injected into the dermis, it then disperses through the epidermis and upper dermis and finally becomes trapped between the two. The results can be quite stunning and even very artistic, but the process is often painful and the result often dangerous to the long-term health of the person.
You can get a tattoo at any age, but it is usually more common amongst young people. But by the time they reach middle age, the chances are that that they will regret the ‘I love Jane’ tattoo on their forearm –especially if they are married to Sylvia! In this case, they will want to have it removed. Removing a tattoo by laser takes several weeks and that too is a painful process! On top of that, it can cause permanent discoloration of the skin and scarring.
For those of you out there who have already gone through all this, don’t you wish you had been able to do it using some kind of local anesthetic? Of course you do! Even better if it is an anesthetic that requires no more needles! Modern technology and enhanced medical expertise allow surgeons to operate without leaving disfiguring scars – and new techniques are being developed every day.
In dermatology, we have taken great strides in the understanding of pathologies and can now provide solutions for hitherto misunderstood skin conditions. We are constantly seeking to improve patient outcomes, whether this involves treating the illness itself or alleviating the symptoms and discomfort associated with skin conditions or physician procedures, such as pain, erythema or itch.
Today there are many safer and easier alternatives to tattoos, but I would like to think that if I did decide to get rid of one, I had the option of making the experience as pain-free as possible, in the same way as I’d rather not have to put up with the dry skin caused by the treatments I use for my skin condition. Don’t you agree?