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The Science Behind: Tattoos

Cover page- Sara Chaudhari

In today's world, getting a tattoo is seen as an act of rebellion. People with tattoos are seen as rebels, gangsters, or dangerous people.

However, the art of being tattooed is a tale as old as time. The oldest evidence of human tattoos is assumed to be from somewhere between 3370 BC to 3100 BC.

Tattoos were used as a punishment for slaves and criminals in Ancient Greece and Rome. Tattooing was practiced in Egypt and Syria for religious purposes.

What most people know about tattoos is that they are permanent and they hurt.

But what makes them permanent?

For a tattoo to be permanent, the ink has to travel to the layer underneath the outer layer of your skin called the dermis. When getting a tattoo, a tattoo machine moves across your body piercing your skin with dye-filled needles at a frequency of 50-3,00 times per minute.

Every time the needle enters your skin, it causes a wound. The wound alerts the body to begin the inflammatory process. This makes your body send a message to the immune system cells to the area of the wound to respond to the dye invading your body.

Special cells called macrophages race to your body's rescue and attempt to eat up the dye. However, they can't absorb all of it. The leftover gets soaked into skin cells in the dermis. This is how the ink remains visible and your tattoo becomes permanent.

Why do they hurt?

In simple words getting a tattoo means having a machine jab into your skin over and over. That machine could have one needle or twenty-five.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

People get tattoos all the time and sometimes they don't think them through. Sometimes, the artist messes up. Sometimes, they get disapproving looks from their friends. So they decide to get the tattoo removed. Easy enough, right?

That's like saying 'Oh I'll magically extract dye from the second layer of my skin."

Getting tattoos removed is extremely painful and expensive. Thanks to modern technology tattoo removal is easier and better. There are three types of lasers available for tattoo removal: Alexandrite, YAG, and Ruby. Each one works with different pigment colors and compounds. Often times, a dermatologist will use a combination of lasers to remove the tattoo. In very short pulses, the laser light absorbs the tattoo ink. The high energy causes the tattoo ink to break into smaller pigment particles that are eventually removed by the body's immune system.

So while there is a way to get rid of a much-regretted tattoo, it is much safer to think before you permanently scar your skin.

That's all for today, but do leave a comment about your opinion about tattoos. Are they good? Bad? What tattoo would you get?

Until next time...

Stay Curious ;)




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