The answer is fairly simple—it is not that the ink is no longer necessary, it is a question of how much does the body change. In an attempt to answer this question, we decided to conduct a comparative study of the skin of a group of patients (n = 15 women age 45-70) who had tattoos which had been covered with various stages of aging.
The studies performed by us are as follows:
The first phase of this process was to compare the ages of the women on the left hand side and of those on the right side, the age of the tattoo on the forearm, the thickness of the epidermis (the outermost skin layer which surrounds the body and protects it from sun-tanning) and the total thickness.
The skin was divided into three groups:
The subjects who were not yet covered in tattoos showed no skin thinning of the skin.
The subjects who were now covered in tattoos were less thinning.
The subjects who were still not covered in tattoos were still more thinning compared to the controls. (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Comparison of skin thicknesses between the first and latter stages of tattooing in women and female controls (controls were shown in the black box).
During this period of comparative study we also considered two further factors that may influence the fading of a tattoo. First the degree of aging of each patient is a determining factor (for example the rate of skin aging is one of the variables).
The second factor is the duration of the experience with the tattoo, this is measured by the tattoo number. We studied the ages of the patients with an average age of 43, and the control subjects at 49.
In these two studies the patients with an average or older age of 44 had more pronounced and more persistent thinning of the skin. These women had tattoos covering only two per cent (4 per cent), and 10 per cent of their forearm, and these subjects were only 30 years old.
It is worth mentioning that the control subjects who were age 49 or 55 years old showed an average thinning of the skin of 3 per cent. (The controls were shown in the grey box).
As an explanation for how this thinning differs among the three groups, we can refer to an observation that has already been reported:
“The oldest woman, who is 85 years old, with a tattoo on the right part of her forearm was covered up for 22 years.
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