Tired of staring at that weird-looking skull tattoo you got with your best friend as a teen rebel years ago? Want to get rid of your ex’s name on your arm? Regardless of the reason, tattoo removal is a common way of getting rid of unwanted tattoos. Unfortunately, tattoo removal doesn’t work miracles and can leave scars or other skin issues. With research and the guidance of a physician, you can find a tattoo removal method that is best for you and your skin.
The method of tattoo removal used will depend on various factors: location of the tattoo, the period of time the tattoo has been on the skin, the skin’s ability to heal, the size of the tattoo, and how it was applied. Tattoos done by a very experienced tattoo artist are the easiest to remove because the pigment has been evenly injected into the skin.
Sloppy or inexperienced tattoo artists tend to apply the tattoo in a way that isn’t uniform, making it harder to remove the pigments. Tattoos that have been on the skin for years are harder to remove than new ones.
Just like getting a tattoo, removing them can be an uncomfortable process. There are several methods used today for tattoo removal. In many cases, the physician chosen to perform the tattoo removal will decide which method is best.
Laser surgery is considered by many doctors and patients to be the best way to remove a tattoo. A numbing cream is usually applied to the area before the treatment. Once the skin is ready, the laser is placed over the tattoo, as pulses of light shoot out of the laser and onto the skin. Each blast of light from the laser breaks up the tattoo pigment.
The laser is moved across the tattoo in quick, swift movements until the entire area has been treated. Sometimes more than one laser session is needed to completely remove the tattoo. After the treatment, the skin’s scavenger cells do the rest of the work in removing the pigment. While this option is one of the most popular, it can leave scarring or discoloration.
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Dermabrasion is another method of tattoo removal that involves sanding down the tattooed area, causing the skin to peel off. The tattoo is removed in small portions by using a solution that freezes the area. After the designated area has been sanded down with an abrasive rotary tool, the layers of skin containing the pigment will peel off. Bleeding of the area is common and may need to be bandaged to prevent infection. This process can be uncomfortable and can also result in skin discoloration or scarring.
Excision is a more surgical method of removing a tattoo. This option works best for small tattoos. After a local anesthetic is applied to numb the skin, the entire tattoo is surgically removed. The edges of the skin are then pulled together and sutured shut in order to heal. Excising a tattoo gets rid of it completely but in some cases, a skin graft may be needed. Scarring and bleeding are common.