Tattoos are designed to be a permanent form of body art, but there might come a time when you regret the youthful and impetuous streak that saw you end up with some unsuitable tattoos drawn on prominent places on your body. Obviously not everyone loves their tattoos and some look better than others, which is why tattoo removal techniques are big business. So if you want to get that tattoo removed, you need to start looking into the most effective tattoo removal method you can afford.
What methods of tattoo removal are available?
If you subsequently change your mind about a tattoo, there are several ways you can try to minimize its appearance. Some can be used to remove the tattoo completely, whereas others will fade or disguise the tattoo so that it is less prominent. However, not all methods are appropriate, so before you try one, find out exactly what each tattoo removal method does and if there are any side effects you should worry about.
Laser tattoo removal
Laser treatment is the most commonly used way of removing unwanted tattoos. It works by firing very highly concentrated beams of light at the tattoo, which penetrate the skin and break down the ink of the tattoo. This allows the ink to be slowly reabsorbed by the body, which causes the tattoo to fade and eventually disappear.
However, although laser treatment is very effective at removing unwanted tattoos, it is not without its side effects. Laser treatment is readily available and technology is now so advanced that the potential side effects of the treatment are minimal, but it can be painful and larger tattoos usually need a lot of laser treatment sessions, which can sometimes lead to blisters and scarring. The other downside to laser treatment is the cost: each laser treatment is likely to cost hundreds of dollars, and if you need a large number of treatments, having a tattoo removed is likely to cost you a great deal more than the cost of the original tattoo.
Alternative methods of tattoo removal
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) is an alternative to laser treatment and some dermatologists believe it to be more effective. IPL is not as popular as laser treatment, mainly because it is considerably more expensive, but you may find it on offer at some clinics as it is less painful than traditional laser treatment.
Dermabrasion is another way of removing tattoos and it was one of the few available treatments on offer before laser treatment came along. Dermabrasion works by sanding down the upper layers of skin, which as you might imagine is extremely painful. It is also very damaging to the skin and the patient is likely to end up with significant scarring after the treatment.
An old fashioned form of dermabrasion involves the application of a local anesthetic and rubbing the tattoo with a mixture of salt crystals and water (salabrasion) until the skin surface breaks down and bleeds profusely. Naturally this is not a pain free method, but for small tattoos it could work.
Smaller tattoos can be surgically removed via a process known as excision. The area of skin is cut away and the edges of skin cauterized and sutured together. Larger tattoos can also be surgically excised, but the treatment may require skin grafts from a different area of the body.
Tattoo removal at home
If you have a burning desire to lose a bothersome tattoo, but you cannot afford to pay for professional tattoo removal treatment, there are many products available on the internet that claim to be able to fade or remove tattoos. Although these products offer all kinds of guarantees, until you actually try them, you have no way of knowing whether or not they actually work, so be very wary of spending a large amount of money on a product that might be worthless.
How to fade a tattoo
Some people swear by the injection of saline into a tattoo in much the same way as the ink was applied in the first place. You might not find many tattooists willing to try this method, but it will cause you no harm and it will potentially fade an existing tattoo.
How can I disguise rather than remove a tattoo?
A popular alternative to tattoo removal is to cover the unwanted tattoo up with another tattoo. The success of this method is very much dependent on the original tattoo, but a skilled tattoo artist should be able to come up with a suitable design that effectively disguises the hated tattoo with a new piece of artwork. However, the cover up job must be done right, or you will end up with two unwanted tattoos instead of one, so spend time looking for the right tattoo artist who has lots of experience in this type of work.
It is not unusual to later regret having a tattoo, which is why there are various methods of tattoo removal at your disposal should you decide you hate your tattoo and it is causing you immense embarrassment. But how effective is laser tattoo removal and how exactly does laser treatment remove tattoo ink from the skin?
What is laser tattoo removal treatment?
Laser treatment is the most popular method of removing unwanted tattoos from the skin. It works by firing pulses of intense light at the tattoo, which breaks down the ink in the deeper layers of skin, thus enabling the ink molecules to slowly disperse and be absorbed by the body. With each laser treatment, the tattoo will fade and once enough treatments have taken place, the tattoo should disappear completely, although the removal process may take several months before the tattoo is removed completely.
Is laser tattoo removal treatment suitable for everyone?
Laser treatment can be used to remove all kinds of tattoos, including professionally done tattoos, amateur tattoos, traumatic tattoos, and even medical and cosmetic tattoos—basically if you have any type of tattoo you dislike, laser treatment can be used to remove it.
Is laser treatment effective for all tattoos?
The end result of laser tattoo removal is largely dependent on how large the tattoo is and what colored ink was used. Older tattoos are generally easier to remove via laser treatment as the ink is less dense. Small tattoos are easier to remove and will require fewer treatments. Conversely, large or very extensive tattoos will need many laser treatment sessions.
Certain colors are more difficult to remove than others: blue and black are easy to treat, but some colors, specifically whites, oranges, yellows, reds, and green inks containing fluorescent dyes are very difficult to remove. Lighter colors can also darken when treated with lasers: skin tones often darken and red ink can sometimes turn black, which is why a small skin test is usually recommended prior to a full treatment session.
Which tattoos respond best to laser treatments?
Amateur tattoos usually respond well to laser tattoo removal treatments. This is because amateur inks tend not to be injected as deeply as tattoos done using professional tattoo equipment. Tattoos containing only black ink are also easier to remove as black ink is much easier to break down using lasers.
What are the advantages of tattoo removal laser treatment?
Laser treatment has many advantages. The process is very effective for the majority of tattoos and if performed by a competent tattoo removal expert, a tattoo can be completely removed in its entirety, which is the optimum result for most people. Modern laser treatment procedures operate using several different frequencies of light, so a range of different colors can be targeted over the course of several treatments without causing any damage to the surrounding areas of skin.
What are the disadvantages of tattoo laser removal treatments?
The biggest disadvantage of laser tattoo removal is the cost. The price of treatment will vary according to the clinic you attend, but in general laser treatment sessions are very costly and if you require a large number of sessions, for example if you have a tattoo that covers an extensive area of your body or the tattoo contains multiple colors, you could easily find that the cost of laser tattoo removal treatment stretches into thousands of dollars, which is beyond the reach of many people.
Is tattoo laser treatment very painful?
Everyone’s individual perception of pain is different, so what hurts like hell for one person might only feel like a mild stinging sensation to another. However, the general consensus of opinion is that laser treatments to remove tattoos are fairly painful and likely to cause a lot more discomfort than the original tattoo.
But try not to worry too much as you will not be expected to suffer during the tattoo removal treatment: local anesthetic cream will be applied to numb the treatment area and reduce the level of discomfort for smaller tattoos. However, if the treatment area is very extensive or the tattoo is in a sensitive place (for example on the face), you might be given the option of being put to sleep using a general anesthetic to save you from suffering a lot of pain.
How long will the tattoo removal take?
Small tattoos might only take a few treatments before the tattoo has disappeared, but larger tattoos will take as many as ten sessions of laser treatment to achieve the maximum effect. The treatment results will not immediately be evident and your tattoo is not going to vanish overnight. It usually takes a few weeks for the body’s immune system to process and remove the ink particles, so it will take time for the tattoo to begin to fade.