Ever had a tattoo you just regret??? Well if you have, then you are part of the 50% of people who have tattoos. Many people get tattoos for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes later in life these reasons may not seem as desirable. Then what should you do? You should try one of the ways to remove your not so fab tattoo!
I’ll start by sharing some ways to remove your out of date tattoos.
There are many ways in which people have tried to remove tattoos; some older methods include dermabrasion, TCA, salabrasion, and excision. I will go into detail about these methods later. Some newer methods consist of laser treatments or the NEW topical cream.
DERMABRASION: This older method uses a technique called abrasion, which is a wearing away of the upper to mid layers of the skin. Tools used to complete the abrasion consist of a wire brush, diamond wheel or fraise, sterilized sandpaper, salt crystals, or other mechanical means. During the procedure, patients are typically put under a local anesthetic. Since you are basically scraping away at the skin, it tends to bleed a lot and requires pressure. This will then take about 7-30 days for the skin to heal and return back to its natural, glowy self. Now that just sounds painful! This procedure would typically be performed in a medical setting by a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon.
TCA: TCA stands for Trichloroacetic acid. This is an acid that works to remove the top layers of skin and may reach as deep as the layer that the tattoo ink finds home.
SALABRASION: Salabrasion is simple. It removes a tattoo by scrubbing the skin with salts. This could be quite the lengthy process.
EXCISION: excision removes the tattoos by cutting. This does not sound desirable at all; I would stay away from this option!!
Most of these methods will leave nasty scars, which would be far worse than the tattoo itself.
Now let’s get into these newer methods of removal!!
LASER: Laser is a good way to remove a tattoo with minimal side effects. The high intensity light beam of the laser works to remove tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors in the skin. Now isn’t that fascinating! Tattoos with black ink are easiest to treat. This is because the black ink will absorb all of the wavelengths of the laser. To treat colors, other laser can be used based on the pigment colors of the ink.
The laser removal is also a great option if some of the other methods have already been tried on the tattoo. It is important to find a reputable doctor, often a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. The whole removal process should start out with a consultation where your doctor can review your tattoo and the treatment they have planned. Then the tattoo may be removed in as little as 2-4 sessions, but may take 10 or more depending upon the person and their type of tattoo.
The treatments consist of placing a handheld laser directly onto the skin. People have describes the pulses of the treatment to feel like splashing grease or a rubber band snap against the skin. After the treatment is complete for the day it is important to ice the treated area to soothe the area. It is also important to wear a bandage or sunblock over the area to ensure protection from the sun. After each treatment, the tattoo will become progressively lighter. What a relief!!
Possible side effects:
- Risk for infection
- May not be a complete pigment removal
- Slight chance for a permanent scar
- Hypopigmentation (skin is lighter in treated area) or hyperpigmentation (skin is darker in treated area)
- Cosmetic tattoos such as lip liner or eyeliner may darken with treatments
Are these laser treatments safe??
When removing tattoos, safety can be a big concern. Laser treatments have been found to be tremendously safer than some of the older methods listed above. So, for the most part it is safe, but with any medical procedure, there are always side effects and risks. Laser tattoo removal just has fewer risks and side effects than other removal options.
Now we will take a look into the new tattoo removal option; a topical cream!!!
CREAM: Yes, removing tattoos with the use of cream is now a thing!! A PhD candidate named Alec Falkenham has created a cream that can fade tattoo ink without any inflammation! That would be wonderful. This new topical cream will work within the skin by targeting the macrophages under your skin that hold the tattoo ink. New macrophages will then enter the skin to “eat” and destroy the ink-filled macrophages. Macrophages are the white blood cells that work to gobble up cellular debris, which in this case is the tattoo ink.
Since this cream is still new, there has not been much research done on it yet. It is still unknown how effective it is, or if it is just as effective as, or more effective than the laser treatments. It is also unknown how many applications will be needs to remove the tattoo. The creator of this cream is unsure as to when the cream will become available commercially, so stay tuned on the internet to find out more information.
Now that you have learned about all of the typical ways in which tattoos are removed I hope you can find the safest and most effective plan for yourself.
So before you go out and get that tattoo you have been saving up for, think to yourself if you will want that tattoo in 10, 20 or even 50 years down the road. If not, then do not get that tattoo, because removal is expensive, painful, and not always completely effective.