Getting inked is easy. You can find tattoo parlors anywhere and will have a wide variety of places to go. However, when it comes to removing unwanted tattoos, it is another story. First, because there are not so many options. Second, because the most efficient of those options is not that widely known.
However before we start, you can straight cross out of your list removing unwanted tattoos at home. Not only are they not effective but they are also not very safe. Some methods such as salabrasion can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all cost.
First thing first, before getting into how to remove unwanted tattoos, it is important to book a consultation with a dermatologist or tattoo removal expert. They will be better able to help and assess what treatment you will need.
Removal methods will vary from one tattoo to another as well as one professional to another. That is why a meeting is a good idea to discuss your options and get a quote. Know that many factors will impact tattoo removal.
1. Surgical removal
Surgical removal is a tattoo removal method mostly used on smaller tattoos. It is the heaviest procedure of the three and will not get your skin back to its original state. This procedure can only be performed by a medical professional.
The doctor will numb the skin with a local anesthetic prior to starting the procedure. Then, they will use a scalpel to cleanly cut the tattoo out. Finally, the doctor will stitch the skin back together.
This method may work with larger tattoos but will require a skin graft to do it. Essentially, the doctor will take a piece of skin from elsewhere on your body and apply it to where they remove unwanted tattoos.
A surgical tattoo removal will leave a scar where the stitches will be. Risks of getting a skin graft include infection and rejection as well as inconsistencies in the appearance of your skin.
Dermabrasion is another option to remove unwanted tattoos. It is cheaper than surgical removal but it is not as effective. Dermabrasion will actually remove the top layer of the skin.
As opposed to surgical tattoo removal, here the professional will not use a local anesthetic. Indeed, they will numb the skin by chilling it. Then, they will use a rotary tool with a sanding head to wear down the skin. Eventually, the dye will leach out.
The tattoo removal method is quite aggressive to the skin and will leave it raw for a couple of days after the procedure. You may also experience bleeding. On average, it will take two to three weeks to heal completely.
Patients will go for one treatment as it should be enough to produce satisfactory results. However one session may cost as much as $1,000. In the end, it might even be more expensive that laser tattoo removal which is the safest most efficient way to remove unwanted tattoos.
3. Laser tattoo removal
Laser tattoo removal is a FDA approved way of removing unwanted tattoos. Just like any other laser treatment, it comes with some risks: hyperpigmentation, infection and scarring. However, they are very rare.
Laser tattoo removal requires a laser machine called a Q-Switch, which will emit a very hot, very fast and ultra-short pulse. Here, speed and heat are both crucial to break the ink particles. Heat will expand the ink particles.
However, the zap has to be quick enough so that half of the particle remains cool. The opposing cool and hot forces then rip the ink particle apart. This process is called photothermolysis.
Once the ink particle is broken, your immune system will take over to remove them from your body. Each session of laser tattoo removal will target a set area of the tattoo, meaning that patients will need more than one session.
Some ink particles and newer tattoos are harder to break. Which is another reason why you may need several sessions. The price of the procedure is difficult to estimate without seeing the tattoo. The bigger the tattoo, the more sessions you need, so the more expensive.
It is always a good idea to schedule a free consultation with a laser spa prior to have a quote and know how many sessions the procedure will require.
There are three ways to effectively remove unwanted tattoos. However, they are not all made equal. The best way to remove unwanted tattoos with little recovery is laser tattoo removal. Indeed, laser tattoo removal aftercare is very straightforward and the procedure will leave the skin very close to what it was prior to getting inked.