Think before you ink! You may have heard the advice, but how many of us actually heed it? Out of the 30% of the people in the US who have at least one tattoo, 25% claim to regret getting it. Is it the name of a scorned lover, a neck tattoo that might disqualify you for the job you want, a picture of your mom that looks more like your dad? Whatever your reason for wanting a tattoo removed, you need to be prepared for the consequences. Here is a more in-depth look at tattoo removal.
How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Tattoo removal works by employing lasers that break up pigment colors with the use of high-intensity beams. Because black tattoo pigments absorb all laser wavelengths, black is the easiest to treat. Other colors must be treated with selected lasers depending on pigment color.
The first step in tattoo removal is a consolation. Arrange a meeting with a trained professional. He or she will evaluate your tattoo and give you some advice about the process. The number of treatments you will need will be based on the size, age, and color of the tattoo. The color of your skin and the depth of the tattoo pigment will be important factors affecting removal technique.
This is what you should expect to happen in a tattoo removal session:
- You will be given protective shields for your eyes.
- Your skin will be tested so the technician can determine which energy treatment will be most effective.
- A laser will be used to pass intense light pulses through the top layers of the skin. These will be absorbed only by the tattoo pigment.
Small tattoos should require only a few pulses for removal, while larger ones will need more. Either case will involve several visits to get rid of the tattoo completely, although you will notice progressive fading after each treatment.
No pain, no gain. Laser tattoo removal can be painful, but it usually does not call for anesthesia. You may want to apply your own topical anesthetic beforehand. Treatment should be followed with an application of an ice pack to soothe the affected area and an antibiotic cream or ointment is suggested to prevent infection and irritation. Be sure to cover it with a bandage and use sunblock on it when outside.
The Side Effects
When it comes to tattoo removal, laser treatment is the safest because it only targets the pigments in the tattoo. However there are a few side effects:
- Risk of Infection – There is always a risk for infection at the tattoo removal sight, and a slight chance of a permanent scar.
- Incomplete Removal – More often than not, traces of your tattoo will remain after the process. Usually certain colors will respond more effectively than others. Black and blue tattoos offer the best potential for complete removal.
- Hypopigmention – Hypopigmentation sometimes results from tattoo removal, which means that the treated skin will become a bit paler or darker then the rest of your skin.
- Cosmetic Tattoo – Tattooed lip liner, eye liner, and eyebrows may get darker after primary treatments. However, they do tend to fade after additional sessions.
As in all health procedures, it is important to find a reputable doctor. Find a good dermatologist or cosmetic surgery center, preferably with a recommendation from you primary care physician. Insurance will not cover it in most cases, as it is not usually considered medically necessary, Be sure to discuss the charges and obtain the associated costs in writing before treatment.
Have you undergone tattoo removal? Thinking about it? Let us know!