A man getting a forearm tattoo in a tattoo parlor.Before getting their tattoos, or having them removed, many people wonder how permanent they really are? Will a tattoo lighten and fade on its own? The answer is not likely; tattoos are pretty permanent, but not for the reasons many people think. Read on to learn more information about why tattoos are permanent and what tattoo removal options may be right for you.

What Makes Tattoos Permanent?

Tattoos are applied using a mechanical needle that punctures the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) and inserts colored ink in the dermis (the lower layer of the skin). The process damages the skin, creating a wound that the immune system then tries to heal using white blood cells known as macrophages. The ink pigments are too large to be eaten by the macrophages become absorbed by fibroblasts (skin cells), which is how the ink appears visible in the skin. Many people think it’s the depth the ink is placed at in the skin that makes tattoos permanent. In reality, it’s all about the body’s immune system and its inability to remove the ink.

Though they may be permanent, tattoos can also fade or lose their sharpness over time. If the tattoo was applied too deeply in the skin, the ink pigments can start to migrate to new areas. This can also happen naturally as the body ages. The result is less definition and more blurring of colors.

Tattoo Removal Options

The permanence of tattoos can become a problem when they’re no longer desired. An ex-partners name, an allegiance to a gang you left, or bad artwork isn’t a tattoo you want on your body for life. Similarly, ink that fades or become blurry with age may need to be lightened in order to be covered up, or maybe you want it gone entirely. There are many reasons to have tattoos removed. The question is how to find the right process for your tattoo.

Laser Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal lasers require trained technicians and medical knowledge to operate. The lasers use heat to break up ink into small enough particles for white blood cells to eat them. It’s a semi-natural means of tattoo removal as the ink is filtered organically through the liver. It can take several laser sessions to remove a tattoo depending on your age, immune system, and the colors of the ink, among other factors. The price of laser removal will depend on similar factors, as well. One of the more popular lasers in the industry is the PiQo4 due to its strength.

Other Tattoo Removal Processes Besides Laser

There are other tattoo removal options beside laser, which you may want to explore before making a decision.

Tattoo Removal Creams

A common myth is that tattoos can be rubbed out of the skin using a cream. This is false. Tattoo ink resides under the epidermis, and therefore rubbing the ink out isn’t a possibility. Using an untested cream or homemade product also runs a high risk of causing damage to the epidermis, such as major scarring.

Saline Tattoo Removal

In this method, a coil machine (tattoo machine) injects a hypertonic saline solution below the epidermis and the ink in the tattoo. The saline solution is rejected by the body, and the process pulls a little bit of ink to the skin’s surface. This method can be effective but also risky because it can be performed by anyone and doesn’t require medical knowledge.

Acid Tattoo Removal

This process involves using a tattoo machine to inject an acid mixture into the skin. The acid abrades the skin and is designed to create scabs that fall off and remove ink with them. Unfortunately, this process can be dangerous and leave chemical burns and scars.

If you have an unwanted tattoo, we recommend using laser tattoo removal to erase it. Laser tattoo removal is a proven process done in a controlled, sanitary environment by trained professionals.