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Are You Considering a Tattoo Removal?

Young red-headed woman with tattoos

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.

The Process

This is what you should expect to happen in a tattoo removal session:

  1. You will be given protective shields for your eyes.
  2. Your skin will be tested so the technician can determine which energy treatment will be most effective.
  3. 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.

The Pain

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:

  1. Risk of Infection – There is always a risk for infection at the tattoo removal sight, and a slight chance of a permanent scar.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Cosmetic Tattoo –  Tattooed lip liner, eye liner, and eyebrows may get darker after primary treatments. However, they do tend to fade after additional sessions.

The Doctor

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!

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Dermal Fillers Reduce Early Signs of Aging

Woman undergoing a dermal filler injection procedure

What are Dermal Fillers?

Dermal fillers, or injectable wrinkle fillers, do pretty much exactly what their name suggests. Unlike Botox, which paralyzes the muscles to treat wrinkles caused by facial contractions, dermal fillers fill in fine lines, creases or wrinkles using one of the several substances available. For this reason, dermal fillers are ideal for those just beginning to show signs of aging. Botox, while incredibly effective, does not work on fine lines because its primary purpose is to stop facial muscle contractions. “Dermal fillers can be very helpful in those with signs of early aging,” according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In addition to virtually erasing early signs of aging, dermal fillers can be used to add volume to the skin, plump thin lips and lifting areas like the cheek, jaw and temples.

What Types of Dermal Fillers are Available?

There are several types of dermal fillers available, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. The following are the most popular types of dermal fillers:

  • Hyaluronic Acid Fillers – Hyaluronic acid is the most popular dermal filler because it has research supporting some really great benefits. Hyaluronic acid not only fills in and plumps your skin, but research suggests that repeated hyaluronic acid injections actually stimulates your body’s production of natural collagen, which further reduces early signs of aging. Additionally, there is some evidence that over time and with repeated injections, you can use progressively less product to achieve the same results. Hyaluronic acid fillers can last anywhere from a few months to up to two years. There are minimal side effects of using hyaluronic acid as a dermal filler; you may experience redness, swelling and bruising at the injection site and the filler may appear as tiny bumps under your skin, but this condition improves over time for a smoother look.

  • Collagen Fillers – Collagen fillers were the first wrinkle fillers to be developed, and were produced mainly using collagen extracted from cows. At one point, these were the most common dermal fillers, but advancements in science have shown other types of fillers to be more beneficial and less risky. Initially, because the collagen came from an animal source, there were more risks of allergic reaction, but new ways of processing collagen have cut down on this risk. The major downside of using collagen as a wrinkle filler is that the results do not last long; some experience results that last only a month. However, many believe that collagen fillers look far more natural than other types of fillers. Side effects of using collagen fillers include allergic reaction (if still using bovine collagen) and redness, swelling or bruising at the injection site.

  • Autologous Fillers – The most common autologous filler is your own body fat. Fat is removed from your thigh, buttocks or stomach and is then treated before being injected into your face. This filler takes a longer time to complete than others because it requires two procedures, although both procedures can be done in a single office visit. The major benefit of using your own fat to reduce early signs of aging is that the results are semi-permanent and require far less subsequent injections than other fillers. Like other fillers, risks of using your fat to fill wrinkles include swelling, redness or bruising at the injection site.

Before you get any dermal fillers, it is important to do thorough research and to find a highly skilled doctor to perform these injections. Risks of dermal fillers increase when done by individuals without experience or knowledge and to get the best and safest results, you need to visit someone with experience. Don’t get injections based on price alone, and never receive injections from sources outside of a sterile medical environment. Non-licensed medical providers have been reported to use substances like surgical-grade silicone, baby oil and even cement, so you never want to take that risk. Once you have received dermal fillers, prolong the results by using a quality anti-aging skin care regimen, and always use an SPF before heading outside to prevent future signs of aging.