Getting a tattoo is a major decision. This ink-based artwork that penetrates the skin is meant to last, and anyone who signs up for a tattoo is looking for a permanent addition to their outward appearance. Of course, unlike tattoos, people change. Eventually, you might no longer feel connected to all the artwork on your body and wonder if getting a tattoo removed is even possible. Indeed, the number of people looking to have tattoos removed is on the rise.
Fortunately, methods for removing tattoos are constantly improving. However, some procedures are more effective (and expensive) than others, and fully erasing a tattoo is often difficult. In most cases, laser tattoo removal is the best way to get rid of an unwanted tattoo. Here we will go over the various ways one can eliminate a tattoo, as well as how laser treatments work and just how effective they can be when administered by a trained dermatologist.
As of now, there are four major tattoo removal methods approved by dermatologists, including laser treatments. The three other methods include dermabrasion, chemical peels, and surgical excisions.
Dermabrasion works by removing the upper layers of skin via a coarse material until the layer containing the ink can be rubbed away. You can think of it as sanding down your skin. The severity of this procedure will depend on the size of the tattoo and the type of ink used. This method naturally creates a wound that must be properly treated for several days or weeks. In some cases, dermabrasion leaves a scar.
Certain acids like Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) can also be used for tattoo removal. However, the effectiveness of these chemical peels can vary widely, and dermatologists might not recommend this option.
Lastly, some tattoos can be surgically removed. During this procedure, the targeted section of skin is removed entirely and stitched back together for faster healing. Scarring is quite common after the excision, and this method can only be used for smaller tattoos, generally speaking.
While the three methods outlined above are still used to get rid of tattoos, laser tattoo removal remains the most popular and prescribed option. In fact, lasers can be used to treat the skin in several ways. The laser tattoo removal procedure works by sending intense beams of light energy to the targeted area of skin. This energy gradually breaks down the ink particles that make up the tattoo. As the particles break down, the patient’s body filters them out via the lymphatic system, and the particles are either excreted, metabolized, or stored.
Different lasers are used depending on the color of the tattoo. For multi-colored tattoos, multiple lasers may be employed to get the job done. Therefore, single-colored tattoos are easier to erase.
Generally speaking, laser tattoo removal is an effective option for at least minimizing the appearance of an unwanted tattoo. That said, completely erasing a tattoo isn’t always possible. Plus, a single laser tattoo removal treatment is often not enough to satisfy patients. In most cases, six to ten treatments (separated by weeks of healing) are required to mostly or completely remove a tattoo. And even still, some scarring is often par for the course after all is said and done.
So, while laser tattoo removal can work, it takes time and patience, and results will vary based on several factors.
If you’re interested in undergoing dermatologist laser tattoo removal, you must prepare accordingly. Before the procedure, you’ll want to have some food in your system, wear loose clothing, avoid wearing makeup, and don’t take blood-thinners. You’ll also want to stay out of the sun for prolonged periods of time well in advance. For more information on preparing for your tattoo removal treatment, read this.
Premier Dermatology Partners can give you more information regarding laser tattoo removal and other tattoo removal options, as well as help you determine whether these procedures are right for you. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.