Selecting the Right Tattoo Removal Method

Getting a tattoo is often an impulsive decision that can lead to regrets later in life. But the procedure is not as permanent as you may think and there are a number of different tattoo removal methods that can be applied to remove the offending ink.

1. Laser Tattoo Removal

Photo of an I Love U tattoo on man's arm
Regretting that tattoo? Here are the best options to have it removed.

This is the most up-to-date and advanced tattoo removal procedure. As such, it also comes at the greatest expense. However, if you are worried about the cost, be aware that laser tattoo removal needs to performed over a number of different sessions that can each be paid for separately, this will give you time to save between visits if need. However, most medical insurance will not cover the cost of laser tattoo removal, so be prepared to pay out of pocket.

The number of sessions that you will require depends on a variety of different factors:

  • How long you have had the tattoo.
  • The size of the tattoo.
  • The different colors used.
  • The expertise of the treatment specialist.

The procedure involves directing laser light particles to break down the ink. This can be a little painful, similar to being pricked by hundreds of hot needles at once. Different light spectrum’s are used to break down different colors. There is no light spectrum to remove turquoise ink although laser treatment may fade the color.

If the pain is too much to handle, you can opt to pay extra for a local anesthetic. A local anesthetic will numb the entire area meaning that you should feel next to nothing. Numbing gels are effective in reducing the pain involved but will not entirely eliminate the discomfort.

There is no healing time although you might experience redness, swelling and skin sensitivity in the treatment area for a few hours or days after each procedure. A soothing cream can be used to alleviate the affects. You should avoid the sun for a few days after treatment.

2. Excising

This procedure is the oldest tattoo removal method and involves actually surgically cutting away the tattoo with a scalpel. The process is quick and is the still the most successful of all the tattoo removal methods. Once the tattoo has been excised, no additional treatment is required.

However, there are a number of distinct disadvantages to choosing this method;

  • It is only beneficial in removing small tattoos.
  • The procedure may involve suturing (stitching) and has a lengthy healing time.
  • Complications such as infection could arise especially if the procedure is not performed in a sterile environment.
  • Some scarring may still be noticeable once you have healed.

On the upside, this process can totally remove the tattoo where laser tattoo removal is not 100% effective especially in the case of certain brighter colors such as blue ink. Excising a tattoo is often chosen after an unsuccessful laser treatment to fully remove ink that remains behind. In the case of surgical excision, it is important to find a skilled plastic surgeon to perform the procedure.

Due to the use of a local anesthetic, you should experience little to no pain during the procedure . However, you will experience some discomfort during the healing period. You will also need to ensure that the wound is cleaned, disinfected and dressed on a regular basis to promote healing.

3. Dermabrasion

photograph showing the epidermis & dermis of the skin
Tattoo ink penetrates to the dermis layer of the skin. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Dermabrasion is a process where the skin is actually re-surfaced by using a rapidly rotating device. The ink of tattoos are located roughly a millimeter below the skin surface. To fully remove the ink, both the top layer (the epidermis) and the middle layer (the dermis) are removed during the sanding process. While the process is performed by a licensed dermatologist or surgeon, it can be done on an outpatient basis.

A few reasons people may select this option include a lower cost than laser removal and may be more successful in removing colors that are hard to remove by laser. However, it is generally only recommended for smaller tattoos due to the aggressive nature of the treatment.

Since the skin will be open and raw immediately after the procedure, care must be taken to avoid infection. Additional side effects include: redness or swelling of the treated area, discoloration of the skin or possible scarring.

4. Tattoo Fading Creams

Few people are aware that there are creams, lotions and gels available on the market that can fade tattoos. The reason that this is not a popular choice is that it is the least effective and requires time and effort to get the best results. In other words, if you aren’t prepared to take the time and employ the effort to follow the instructions and use the products regularly, you will not get the desired results.

The process is not pain free and the chemicals will cause some burning. The motto for this type of removal is: “If it isn’t hurting, it isn’t working.” The instructions may also include some scrubbing or exfoliating the top layer of skin so that the chemicals can work to bleach the ink contained in the lower layers of skin. It is also not ideal to remove tattoos in hard to reach places.

The Most Popular Process

Selecting the best tattoo removal process is a personal decision, but by far the most popular method is laser tattoo removal. More and more advances are being made in the quality of the lasers available to the general public and it is by far the most effective and least invasive way to get rid of that tattoo once and for all.

No matter which method you decide, visit our local directory to help find the best doctor for the job.