Say Goodbye to Your Old Tattoo: A Guide to Tattoo Removal
Tattoos can be exceptional sometimes. It’s a way to express ourselves and pay tribute to a certain phase in our life or even to a certain person too. But often with time, one possibility is that our tattoos may no longer reflect our personal style or aesthetic preferences.
As we grow, the tattoo that we went crazy about one day might start to seem like a mistake today! Tattoos can sometimes become painful to look at and cause emotional distress especially if they remind you of a certain stage of life or a person that you wish to forget. Whatever your motivations are for wanting to get rid of an undesirable tattoo, this guide is for you.
How to remove a tattoo?
Tattoo removal is simply the process of removing a tattoo from the skin. Some people choose to cover tattoos by wearing long sleeves. Here are different tattoo removal options to do it:
Laser Tattoo Removal
Whether you’ve heard of laser tattoo removal or not, it is the only efficient and long-lasting method of removing tattoos that you no longer want from your skin. In fact, doctors can remove almost all tattoos with minimal effort and little pain because of life-changing breakthroughs in laser technology. Even those difficult tattoos can no longer stand against the most recent advancements in laser technology. Although there are other options for removing old ink, laser tattoo removal is the preferred technique for many reasons.
This is how it goes: a laser (particularly, the Q-switched Nd: YAG laser) targets tattoo ink under the skin and emits a single, potent pulse to melt and shatter the ink, which is then broken down by the body’s lymphatic system. In essence, the laser breaks down the ink’s pigment, which is then eliminated by the body using specific immune system cells.
This process requires a lot of time and patience, as the ink will gradually start to break down with every session. When the treatment begins, the tattoo will suddenly turn white but will then quickly regain its real color, this is what we call the frosting effect. The tattoo will slowly start to fade away after every session. Depending on the features of your tattoo (tattoo age, size, design, color, and placement) laser tattoo removal may require multiple sessions to completely erase the ink. For some tattoos, the process could take up to a year.
Advantages of Laser Tattoo Removal
1- Quick Sessions
A laser removal session should only last up to 15 to 30 minutes on average.
2- Few Sessions Required
Most patients would need between three to even sessions maximum to completely remove their tattoo with a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks between each session so that the tattoo would heal properly between two consecutive sessions. However, the number depends on the tattoo features mentioned above.
3- Lesser Side-effects
Unlike other tattoo removal techniques like dermabrasion and surgical removal, laser tattoo removal leaves little to no scarring in the region where your tattoo was or on the skin around it.
Does it Hurt? How Much Does a Laser Tattoo Removal Cost?
Unfortunately, laser tattoo removal could be quite painful, hence topical numbing creams are applied to the tattoo region 30 to 60 minutes prior. In some cases, for larger tattoos for example a tumescent injection of lidocaine is used to numb the area.
Since the extra pigment creates more targets for the laser to focus on and remove, really thick, dark tattoos are typically more painful to remove. Also, the placement of the tattoo plays a role in determining the intensity of pain experienced during the treatment.
Laser tattoo removal is considered to be the most painful tattoo removal technique yet it’s still the best and the most effective method. In addition to the tattoo’s size, color, age, and position on the body, the tattoo removal cost might vary depending on a person’s geographic region.
However, the typical fee depends on the number of sessions, with sessions beginning at $100.
Alternative Tattoo Removal Techniques
1- Surgical Removal
Under local anesthesia, the skin where the tattoo is inked will be removed with a scalpel and then the edges of the skin will be stitched up to close the gap where the tattoo used to belong. Surgical removal is only done on small tattoos.
It effectively uses a high-speed rotating device to sand down the area of the tattoo after the skin has been numbed. This makes it possible for the tattoo ink to exit from the skin. Depending on the depth of the ink and the intensity of the tattoo, dermabrasion may require around three sessions. However, dermabrasion is the least favored tattoo removal technique.
3- Covering It Up With A New Tattoo
This method of tattoo removal is perfect for those who want to trade in their old tattoo for a new one. The process essentially covers up the old tattoo with the new one, making it look as though the first tattoo was never there.
Recovery and Aftercare
After each laser session, the tattoo area might swell up or develop blistering. To promote healing and avoid infection in these circumstances, the skin must be gently washed and covered with an occlusive ointment.
For the first few days after treatment, try to avoid the sun and heat. Like any other procedure, laser tattoo removal comes with a list of side effects that include blistering, swelling, scabbing, frosting, hyper or hypopigmentation, itching, and scarring. These side effects are temporary and will go away within a few days after the treatment.
- The skin should not be picked, peeled, rubbed, or scratched while it is healing.
- Do not pop or pick at any blisters or scabs that do develop on your skin.
- It might be required to use a dry dressing to cover the blister during this process. Please use a non-stick dressing on the blister if it starts to ooze, replacing it twice daily until the drainage stops.
- Any rips or damaged areas should be treated with a tiny amount of Neosporin.
- Your dermatologist can prescribe the proper ointment and medications to help deal with the side effects.
- Avoid swimming and saunas or any physical activity until your skin has healed.
All in all, tattoos are meant to be permanent so it’s really hard to remove them completely. Regardless of the tattoo removal technique employed, the patient is likely to have some degree of skin color fluctuation or scarring. It’s always important to consult your dermatologist before and after you start your treatment. Make an appointment with a well-trusted and professional tattoo laser removal clinic to avoid any skin damage.