New Zealand has a unique love affair with tattoos, with one in three people under the age of 30 adorning ink of some kind.
Overall, one in five Kiwis have a tattoo, with women more likely to have one than men. And while most say they don’t regret getting theirs, 15% of people end up wishing they hadn’t.
Tattoos and New Zealand
Tattooing first began in New Zealand with Ta Moko, with historians using archaeology and accounts of the first European settlers to build a timeline. Excavated sites uncovered the tools used for tattooing dating back to the very earliest settlers, with some of the tools the same as the ones used in Samoa.
Sydney Parkinson was Captain James Cook’s artist on board the Endeavour, and his detailed notes are some of the earliest records we have about tattoos in Aotearoa. When he landed in Poverty Bay in 1769, Parkinson sketched and painted local Maori displaying their Moko, and described in detail the different styles and patterns he witnessed.
Today in New Zealand, the styles and methods of tattooing are incredibly diverse, from traditional Maori and Pacifica styles, through to traditional “sailor tattoos”.
Why tattoos are permanent
We all know tattoos are permanent, and anyone tattooed at 16 will still have it when they’re 60.
But we also know that tattoos fade over time, so why don’t they disappear completely?
The answer is in the two layers of your skin, the dermis and epidermis.
The epidermis is the outer-layer, and this layer heals itself quickly. If you scratch or cut yourself, new skin cells will grow over a week or two and replace the damaged skin.
The dermis, or inner-layer of skin, is different. It’s usually protected by the epidermis, so doesn’t need to replenish itself every month. It is in this inner-layer where the tattoo ink is injected, and because the dermis doesn’t regenerate like the outer layer, the ink pigments stay where they are.
Why tattoos fade over time
Ok, so if the ink is directed directly into the dermis and doesn’t go anywhere, then why do tattoos fade over time?
The answer is in the ink itself. If you look at those ink particles under a microscope, you’ll see they come in all different shapes and sizes.
Some are big and some are small, but they all have one thing in common; they’re a foreign body. This activates your white blood cells, who see the ink as a threat and try to destroy it.
Your white blood cells will destroy any ink particles which are small enough to “eat”, while leaving the larger particles alone.
If all of the ink particles were small enough, your body’s natural immune system would remove all of them, making your tattoo disappear completely over time. Unfortunately, only some of them can be destroyed, leaving the bigger ones forever.
As a result, with less ink in your skin, your tattoo looks faded.
How we can help with tattoo removal
Using the M22 Lumenis modular system, the latest in modern laser technology, we can help your body naturally get rid of tattoo ink.
Using short pulses of intense light, the laser literally bursts the bigger ink pigments into smaller fragments, breaking them up enough for the white blood cells to move in and finish them off.
Your body’s natural immune process take over, with the ink passing through your blood, liver and eventually out of the body through urine.
We tailor the treatment according to the type of the tattoo, gradually and gently revealing your skin, with minimal downtime.
The treatment isn’t as painful as urban legends suggest, with most people feeling something similar to having an elastic band snapped against them.
The procedure is relatively risk free, but of course, as with all medical treatments, there is a slight chance of side-effects such as redness or swelling, but no more than getting a tattoo in the first place.
Why come to us for tattoo removal
Tattoo removal is definitely something that’s only available by experts, and our team here at the Vein and Skin Clinic are some of the best in the country.
We can also offer relatively pain-free treatment using injected local anaesthetic or oral pain relief medication.
All our staff are clinically trained with years of experience, and are continuously up-skilled, travelling both around the country and overseas to attend educational workshops and industry conferences.
This allows us to make the promise that you will receive the best and most-up-to-date treatments and practices available in New Zealand.
If you have any questions about laser tattoo removal, or any of the treatments we offer here at the Vein and Skin Clinic, book a consultation today and we’ll explain which treatment is best for you and your condition.
Our friendly and experienced staff will be happy to help in any way they can.