Permanent Tattoo Removal Techniques

Tattoos have now become more than a fashion statement. For some, it’s the perfect way to express their love for someone special. For most others, it is a form of expressing one’s individuality, passions and beliefs. But as we evolve, our personalities change and removing the tattoo is a way to start afresh. If you no longer want a tattoo and you are wondering if this can be made possible, you don’t have to worry, for some decisions are repairable! Thanks to the advances in cosmetic technology, unwanted tattoos can be removed.

Up to 27% people regret getting a tattoo!

The statistics clearly show that it is not unusual for someone to change their mind after getting a tattoo. In fact, the phrase ‘tattoo regret’ is a term coined for those who have second thoughts about their body art.

There are a number of reasons why people regret their tattoos. The most popular reasons could be:

  • You got the tattoo when you were too young
  • You do not resonate with the tattoo anymore (read your personality does not accommodate the tattoo)
  • The tattoo does not look professional or was done poorly
  • Your tattoo is the name of the person who is no longer a part of your life (one of the most popular reasons)
  • Your tattoo has faded or has become blurred over the years
  • Your current job requirements don’t encourage employees having tattoos

Whatever the reason may be, the question remains the same – can tattoos be removed? Thankfully, there are multiple options to permanently remove the tattoo. Here are the top techniques used for permanent tattoo removal.

Dermabrasion is an option to consider

In the dermabrasion method, the tattooed area is made numb by a chilling technique. A rotating abrasive device is then used on the tattooed area. This technique helps the pigment to leach out from the skin. However, in this procedure, the skin can feel a little sore and raw for a few days. Recovery from this method can take anywhere between 2-3 weeks. This method is best suited for simple and small tattoos, without any complex colours or shading.

Q-switched laser is preferred among different tattoo removal methods

The most popular method of removing a tattoo is by the use of a Q-switched laser. In this method, the dermatologist makes use of a hand-held device and triggers a laser beam at the tattooed area. The energy from the laser breaks down the pigments/ink by shattering it into tiny fragments. These tiny bits of the pigment are then slowly passed out naturally from the body. With the laser being able to distinguish between normal skin and pigmented skin, it enables precise treatment and faster fading of the tattoo.

The age and the size of the tattoo matter

Making use of laser technology to remove tattoos can take place over a series of sessions. And each session can last up to 30 minutes. The number of sessions (typically between 8-12 sessions) required depends on the size of your tattoo, the age of your tattoo and what colours have been used to fill in your tattoo. While it is obvious that bigger tattoos will require more number of sessions, the age of the tattoo also matters. Older tattoos are easier to remove than newer ones since they have a lesser amount of pigment. This is due to our bodies naturally absorbing the pigments over time. Before the procedure begins, an anaesthetist will numb the skin with an injection. All you may experience is some mild discomfort due to the heat.

The colour of your tattoo will play a significant role

Most of the time, a tattoo can be removed – however, with certain inks, it may not be possible to entirely remove your design. A true black ink tattoo is the easiest to treat. Yellow, green and purple ink will require lasers of different wavelengths and/or more sessions to ensure complete removal, when compared to tattoos with blue and red inks.

Other colours such as orange, brown, maroon, aqua and teal can sometimes be resistant to the power of the laser, making it difficult to remove entirely.

Surgery is a possible alternative too…

Another method that is mostly used for smaller tattoos is the surgical removal method. Here too, the skin is numbed by injecting a local anaesthetic, a scalpel is then used to remove the tattoo and edges of the skin are stitched together. While this method is effective, it leaves a scar behind and is thereby not usually recommended, except for very small tattoos.

Considering a permanent tattoo removal? Here’s what you should know

  1. The choice of your dermatologist matters

If you are considering tattoo removal, it is important to first choose an experienced dermatologist and certified skin clinic. Laser tattoo removal treatment requires an expert as even a small mistake can cause permanent scarring and discoloration.

  1. There will be some amount of pain involved

Well, the good news is that the level of pain involved in removing the tattoo will be a lot less in comparison to the pain you experienced while getting the tattoo!  That said, the intensity of pain will differ depending on the area where your tattoo is located. In areas close to the bone, such as the wrists, ribs, and ankles, tattoo removal can be more painful.

  1. Anaesthesia is a requirement

Tattoo removal by laser is usually conducted under local anaesthesia. This is to ensure a relatively pain-free procedure. Under anaesthesia, the pain will not be more than a small rubber band snapping on your skin.

  1. There are certain risks involved

Since tattoo removal involves a medical procedure, there are a few risks involved. If you are someone who has a history of light-sensitive seizures, vitiligo, poor healing, you may not be the right candidate for laser tattoo removal. Also ensure that you don’t have an active rash or injury prior to the treatment.

  1. During tattoo removal and post the procedure…

Once the procedure has been completed, your dermatologist will prescribe an ointment that will help in healing. Make sure that the area is protected with a thin layer of the prescribed ointment and bandage the area with sterile gauze for at least up to three days. Even after three days, it is important to keep the area clean and dry. If necessary, the treated area can be cleaned with a mild soap and water, after which it should be patted dry gently.

Blistering is common when you opt for a laser treatment. In case blistering does occur, apply the ointment, prescribed by your dermatologist, for 24 hours. Do not pick at any scabs that appear to ensure no scars are formed. It is also recommended to not expose the treated area to high pressure water sources.

  1. No downtime but sunlight could be your enemy for a week

When you opt for laser tattoo removal, apart from the minor issues listed above, there will be no significant downtime. Do note that you will have to wait anywhere between 6-8 weeks between each session. This is to give your body enough of time to dispose of the tattoo ink dissolved by the laser.

It is important to note that laser tattoo removal makes the treatment area more sensitive to the sun. Hence, do ensure that there is minimal exposure of the specific area to the sun for at least a week after the procedure. In case of unavoidable circumstances, it is best to apply a sunscreen with high SPF to the area. Swimming, using of soap and perfumes on the area should be avoided for up to 48 hours after each session. Otherwise, the healing process may be hampered.

So, worry not, in case you cringe every time you look at your tattoo. Now is the time to remove it with minimal hassle.

Speak to your dermatologists to guide you on your tattoo removal journey to ensure that your tattoo is a thing of the past.

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