Tattoo Removal

Ways to remove tattoos

Tattoos have gained in popularity in recent decades; some estimates suggest that more than 10 million Americans have at least one tattoo. However, further estimates indicate that as many as half the people that get tattoos later regret them. It's no surprise that tattoo removal is an increasingly popular procedure.

There are three main tattoo removal options:

Cost of Tattoo Removal

The cost of tattoo removal depends on the method chosen, the size of the tattoo, the number of colors in your body art and their intensity. Laser tattoo removal prices range from $250 to $850 per treatment, with anywhere from 5 to 20 visits necessary. Costs for tattoo excision may include skin grafting if the tattoo is large, and typical dermabrasion sessions cost around $3,500. Unfortunately, the tattoo removal cost is more than you'll ever pay to get a tattoo in the first place.

Patient Evaluation

The size of the tattoo along with its age and colors will be analyzed by the surgeon to determine the number of treatments required. In general, red and black inks tend to disappear completely with sufficient tattoo laser removal sessions. Older tattoos may prove more stubborn to remove, requiring excision to eliminate completely. Your plastic surgeon will take all of these factors into consideration before recommending a specific treatment.

The Tattoo Removal Procedure

Here's an overview of the three major techniques used to remove old tattoos:

Laser tattoo removal: This is the most popular choice for removing tattoos, but it is costly and not entirely painless. Tattoo laser removal has a low risk of scarring, doesn't cause bleeding and has few side effects. Some colors like yellow and green are harder to remove; specific lasers are chosen depending on the color composition of your particular tattoo. The tattoo is broken down by the laser, and your body's natural scavenger cells will take it from there, removing any remaining pigment residue. Topical or local anesthesia is generally offered, though some patients feel they don't need it.

Excision tattoo removal: During the excision process, a dermatological surgeon cuts out the tattoo with a scalpel and stitches the wound up. This method usually results in a lasting scar, and may require a skin graft from another part of the body if the tattoo is large. Additional skin treatment procedures may be required as well.

Dermabrasion tattoo removal: This technique uses abrasive surgical tools to remove the surface and middle layers of the skin. This is a painful and bloody process that will result in a permanently lighter patch of skin and possible scarring where the tattoo was located.

Risks of Tattoo Removal

The risks associated with tattoo removal depend on the method you choose to get rid of them. Each procedure presents a risk of infection or scarring, and neither laser removal nor dermabrasion can promise that the tattoo will be fully removed. Only excision guarantees your body art will disappear completely.

Recovering from the Operation

Following treatment, antibacterial ointment and wound dressings are applied to the area. Your doctor may instruct you to reapply the ointment for a few days, and will show you how to keep the area clean. Showering or bathing is acceptable within a day or so of treatment, but you should avoid scrubbing the affected skin. The treated area may be inflamed for several weeks and feel like a mild sunburn. If scabbing occurs, do not pick at it. A scar will result if you do. With laser treatments, the tattoo will gradually fade as the body's immune system breaks down the lingering dyes in your skin pigments.

Alternative Procedures

There are a few other options to deal with an unwanted tattoo, including covering up an old tattoo with a new one. This is a popular and affordable alternative, but doesn't help if complete tattoo removal is the patient's goal.

Rejuvi tattoo removal uses a specially formulated cream which bonds with the tattoo ink, forming a thicker substance that the body can more readily eliminate. This process can only be administered by a trained tattoo artist or permanent makeup professional who has successfully completed a Rejuvi tattoo removal training course.

Beware of tattoo removal cream ads that promise complete and pain-free tattoo removal; experts warn that these creams are largely ineffective. Save your money and discuss your options with a doctor or specialist before making a decision on the method that is right for you.