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Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal treatment can help you reduce or eliminate the appearance of tattoos you no longer want. This cosmetic service is usually performed by a skin care doctor or dermatologist. Knowing more about tattoo removal and how it works can help you determine whether this treatment is right for you.

All about tattoo removal

Tattoo removal is a cosmetic service that involves removing unwanted tattoos using laser technology, surgery, or dermabrasion, described the University of Utha. Each of these techniques works differently to reduce the appearance of your tattoo or remove it altogether.

Tattoo removal may be ideal for you if you regret getting a particular tattoo or have grown bored with its appearance. You may also want to consider removing a tattoo if it features a misspelled word or if your employer requires its employees to have no tattoos, reports the University of Utah.

Every tattoo removal method comes with its pros and cons and with its risks and benefits. The best way to determine which tattoo removal process is best for you is to meet with a dermatologist or skin care doctor who specializes in this service.

Does tattoo removal work?

Tattoo removal may work for some people but not for others. The FDA says that blue and black tattoos are usually the easiest to remove, while tattoos that are green, red, yellow, or light in color are generally the hardest to remove. Ohio State University (OSU) adds that some tattoos cannot be removed entirely and that those who choose these treatments should have realistic goals and expectations about what they can and cannot do.

Types of tattoo removal

Tattoos can be removed with laser treatment, surgery, or dermabrasion, though laser removal is the most common method, reports OSU. It adds that other tattoo removal methods aren’t used as often and may cause scarring.

Laser removal

Laser tattoo removal is a safe, effective way to remove tattoos, says the FDA. It works by sending pulses of high-intensity laser energy through the skin to target tattoo pigments. These pigments are then broken into small particles that are metabolized or excreted by the body. In some instances, they are transported to and stored in lymph nodes or other tissues, adds the FDA.

Laser tattoo removal usually requires between six and 10 treatment sessions over several months, depending on the size and color of the tattoo. OSU says that treatment with a laser tattoo remover is not recommended for people with an active infection or for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Surgical removal

Surgical removal of a tattoo is also known as excision. This treatment involves cutting into and removing the part of your skin with the tattoo, notes the University of Massachusetts.

During this tattoo removal treatment, your skin care doctor numbs the area using a local anesthetic and surgically removes the tattoo using a scalpel. Afterward, the edges of your skin are brought together and sutured, reports the University of Massachusetts. Any bleeding that occurs is usually minimal and controlled with electrocautery.

The University of Massachusetts adds that larger tattoos may require multiple treatment sessions and that, in some instances, a skin graft may be taken from another part of your body to cover the affected area.

Dermabrasion

Using dermabrasion to remove a tattoo involves “sanding” down the area of the skin with the tattoo, which causes the skin to peel, says the University of Massachusetts. They note, this allows the tattoo ink to escape the skin and promotes the growth of new, unpigmented skin. Just like with surgical tattoo removal, several dermabrasion treatment sessions may be required to remove larger tattoos.

Home treatments

There are many over-the-counter (OTC) tattoo removal creams available for purchase online. However, none of these products are approved or cleared by the FDA, says the federal agency. There is no existing clinical evidence that shows that these creams work. The FDA adds that many OTC tattoo removal creams and ointments may cause unexpected side effects, including burning, scarring, and changes in skin pigmentation.

Covering it up

Covering up an unwanted tattoo with a new tattoo may be an option for you if you do not want any type of tattoo removal treatment, suggests Flagler College. Tattoo artists can examine your tattoo and recommend new designs that can tastefully cover an unwanted tattoo. Flagler College adds that most people who want to cover up a tattoo usually have to choose a larger tattoo with darker colors to hide the original tattoo.

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