Tattoos have been a part of human culture for more than 4000 years. At the same time, the dilemma of removing them has existed just as long. A technique known as salabrasion is the oldest and crudest form of removing tattoos, and although there are more technologically advanced methods such as laser removal, this method is still used today. But does it work and how effective is it? Let’s take a look.
What Is It?
First used by a Greek physician named Aetius around 543 A.D, this is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is quite similar to dermabrasion. The process uses simple ingredients such as tap water, plain table salt and an abrasive device such as a wooden block wrapped in gauze. Definitely not for the faint of heart, it involves pain and destruction of the superficial dermis.
The tattooed area is first shaved if there is any hair present and numbed with an anaesthetic spray. Then a mixture of salt and water is applied to the area and the abrasive gauze is used to vigorously rub the region past the point of bleeding. Following this, an antibiotic ointment and a sterile gauze dressing is applied and left in place for three days. After this time, the dressing is removed, and the skin, which will be raw, is covered in salt again for several hours. Another treatment with antibiotic ointment follows and the abraded area is redressed and left to heal for another three days. The gauze is then removed and at the point, the skin may appear leathery and have a rough texture. This scab will begin to separate from healthy skin beneath within one to five days, pulling ink pigment away with it. As the skin heals, new skin will begin to grow in it’s place.
A Word Of Caution
While salabrasion can be done at home, it is definitely not recommended and should always be preformed by a qualified specialist with sterile equipment to avoid infection. Even then, the procedure still carries risks. Scarring is at the top of the list. It is highly plausible that an unwanted tattoo will be replaced with an unsightly scar. Furthermore, healing takes several days, but can turn into weeks if not done properly. It should be noted that if remnants of the ink still remain, additional treatments will be required to remove any remaining pigment, which is almost always the case.
Salabrasion may be an effective form of tattoo removal, but think about the incredibly ugly scar that can take it’s place. If that is the case, then it may be wise to look into other methods or just leave it alone.