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Want to Get Rid of That Old Tattoo? You're Not Alone
Date:2/9/2013

FRIDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- It seems that tattoos are everywhere these days, but along with the increase in people getting inked, the number of Americans undergoing procedures to have a tattoo removed is also on the rise, experts say.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates both tattoo inks and the laser devices used to remove the body art, cautioned that deciding to have a tattoo removed is a lot easier than the removal process itself. The experts advised that tattoo removal is a painstaking process and the result may not be perfect.

A January 2012 poll by Harris Interactive showed that of the 21 percent of American adults who have a tattoo, 14 percent regret their decision to get one. This research may come as no surprise to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, which reports that its doctors performed nearly 100,000 tattoo removal procedures last year, an increase of 14,000 from 2010.

Although more Americans are taking steps to remove their tattoos, the FDA noted that removing tattoo ink is easier said than done. The agency explained that when a tattoo is created, an electrically powered machine injects ink past the outer layer of skin into the dermis, or the second layer of skin. Dermis cells are more stable so the ink placed there will be permanent.

Safe tattoo removal requires laser surgery performed by a dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal, said the FDA's Mehmet Kosoglu, who reviews applications for marketing clearances of laser-devices. The lasers emit concentrated light energy in short bursts, which is absorbed into the pigment. The lasers then break the pigment apart into smaller particles, which are metabolized, stored or excreted by the body.

Several types of lasers have been FDA-approved as light-based, prescription devices to lighten or remove tattoos, including a laser workstation marketed by a Massachusetts-based company to remove both tattoos and ben
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