“To Remove Tattooing.”

I think in today’s history article I’ll quote an article on tattoo removal from 1891… Maybe tomorrow I’ll cover cosmetic tattooing (also popular in the 1800s). This article is from The Daily Light (San Antonio, Texas), dated June 1, 1891.

Mr. T. W. Dodd, of Walsingham, England, writes as follows in the Chemist and Druggist:

“Twenty years ago I removed three very indelible tattoo marks on my hand. Certainly it left a scar, but now it is scarcely perceptible. The operation was performed by applying nitric acid with the stopper of the bottle (a better instrument would be a glass rod pointed, to carry the acid), just sufficient to cover the stain, so as to avoid making a larger scar than needful, the acid to remain about one and a half minutes, until the cutis vera was penetrated and a crusted appearance shown, then washed of with clean, cold water. In a few days after this treatment a scab forms, which contains the tattoo mark or stain; remove it, and should inflammation supervene, poultice and bathe with warm water. In this way the skin with the stain is not only removed almost painlessly (I mean tattoo marks about the size of peas), but the nitric acid at the same time to a certain extent seems to decolorize the stain. Of course large tattoo marks, greatly extending over the surface, must necessitate the operation being performed differently.”

Dr. Variot, of the Paris Biological society, advises the following method: Tattoo the skin, in the usual way, with a concentrated ‘solution of tannin, following the original design. Then apply the crayon of nitrate of silver until the part tattooed with the tannin blackens. Wipe off excess of moisture and allow matters to take their own course. Slight pain continues two or four days, and after two months the cicatrix which results will almost disappear.’ — American Druggist.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

4 thoughts on ““To Remove Tattooing.”

  1. Chemical peeling is often revisted even now for tattoo removal. Sadly the results really aren’t very good because a decent tattoo is deep enough that any superficial peel (like we use for resurfacing rough skin or refreshing dry or aging skin) just doesn’t go deep enough to affect the color. Deeper peeling agents can work but carry significant risk of scarring. This is why laser has come into vogue for tattoo removal, though it doesn’t even work all that well with many modern color variations.

    It’s gotten to the point that I’m sending tattoos out for cover when possible rather than attempting to remove them. The cosmetic result is better and that old boy/girlfriend’s name can become something more meaningful that the tattooed can value for a lifetime.

  2. I’m getting some tribal removed soon. In my consultation the doc said I may have some trouble getting it out because it was done with tribal ink and is still black black. Not faded at all. He also said it may have titanium oxide (I think?) In it because he says it also seems almost shiny. I dunno, I just need it lightened to cover it up, but I’m wondering if its even worth the trouble and should maybe incorporate it into the new tattoo? I would really like it covered though. Any advice? He said my skin is ideal cause it is so pale, but that tattoo was put in to stay. So it’s hard to predict.

  3. Tattoo removal is really an art, particularly with inks being such as they are now. It’s difficult to know what the pigment was that your original artist used. Blacks tend to respond pretty well to what are called Q-Switched lasers. That’s a kind of laser that fires nanosecond long pulses to stimulate the pigment and basically vibrates the pigment to break it into smaller particle that your body can absorb. Make sure he’s using a Q-Switched laser. Anything else is the wrong chose laser wise for tattoo removal.

  4. I hope you all know that Silver Nitrate is higly poisonous? People that handle it should need to wear gloves, and thats just to touch it…

    Surely applying it to an open wound is just asking for trouble?

    Oh, and it causes flesh necrosis. Just so you all know…

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