Happy Yoga day! Now what’s with all the tattoos?

Ed Park, MD dr ed park, skin Leave a Comment

Today is International Yoga Day and I try to do hot Yoga daily.

For some reason, there are a lot of tattoosindex on yoginis and I when I asked my friend how old his faded “dude riding a unicorn” tattoo was, he said about 15 years and that he got it age 18. I knew his math was off. He is 42 so that would have been 24 years ago. Yoga makes you feel young, y’all!

This made me wonder: If the skin turns over so often, why don’t tattoos fade more quickly?

It turns out there are two reasons: particle size and location.

Because the particles are large, they are inefficiently degraded, so the immune cells are like ants alex-wild-leaf-cutting-ant-carrying-a-sand-grain-atta-saltensistrying to clear away dirt clots versus grains of sand. 

A new company called Ephermeral has developed a nano particle sized ink (<100 nanometers) that can be cleared by the immune system efficiently and they state the benefit will be temporary tattoos lasting a year (but how fuzzy will they be in that first year?).

 

The second factor is that the ink is deposited in a low turnover area below the basal stem cell layer known as the stratum germinativum:

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After three months, all the ink above this stem cell layer is sloughed off. The ink below can appear in lymph nodes and be cleared slowly, but not so efficiently as to make tattoos disappear within a typical lifetime.

Tattoo removal involves using light to break up the larger particles into finer ones so that the immune system can clear them.


POSTSCRIPT:

It seems that the culture that gave us the Indo-European languages and the gift of rejoining (yoke-yoga~ same root) which is the same sentiment in the etymology of religion (religare-to bind) wants to take back its brand via a Yoga Ambassador.

In 2015, someone at the Univ of Ottawa targeted the alleged cultural appropriation of teaching yoga practice by someone offering classes to disabled students, resulting in the cancellation of class. This story is NOT THE ONION and is best summed up by this quote:

“The day yoga needs a safe space is the day parody meets reality,” the Rebel wrote. “That day has come.”

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