Tattoo Removal

People get tattoos for many reasons, be it cultural, personal, or simply because they like the design. Tattoos are becoming more mainstream, too, with face tattoos even growing in popularity.

Just as there are many reasons people get tattoos, there are many reasons why people may want to remove them.

Although tattoos are permanent, this is only to an extent. They can be removed if you decide you no longer want them.

Let’s take a look at the ways you can remove a tattoo, including cost, how long it’ll take, and more.

Best candidates for tattoo removal

Older tattoos as well as amateur (“stick and poke”) tattoos are easier to remove than newer ones.

Some colors are easier to remove than others as well. These include:

  • black
  • brown
  • dark blue
  • green

Larger, darker, more colorful tattoos are more time-consuming and expensive to remove than smaller, lighter, and less colorful ones.

Due to the risk of side effects, it’s also more difficult to remove tattoos if you have:

  • darker skin
  • a preexisting skin condition, like eczema
  • a health condition that affects the skin, such as herpes

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t remove your tattoo if any of this applies to you. It just means you may need to take a bit more time to find the best removal option for you.

Your healthcare provider can also help you if you have a health condition. For example, they can prescribe antiviral medications to prevent a tattoo removal procedure from triggering a herpes flare-up. They can also refer you to a dermatologist for further guidance.

 
 

How does laser removal work?

Most experts consider laser removal to be the most successful and cost-effective way to remove tattoos.

Today, most tattoos are removed with a Q-switched laser. It sends out energy in one strong pulse. This pulse of energy heats up the ink in your skin to dissolve it.

You’ll need to receive a number of laser treatments over several weeks or longer to remove your tattoo.

Often, lasers don’t completely remove a tattoo. Instead, they lighten or fade it so it’s much less noticeable.

Who should get laser removal?

Tattoos with many colors are more difficult to remove. They might require treatment with different lasers and wavelengths to be effective.

The best candidates for traditional laser removal are those with lighter skin. This is because laser treatment can change the color of darker skin.

If you have darker skin, your best laser option is Q-switched Nd:YAG laser treatment. It’s least likely to change the color of darker skin.

Older tattoos tend to fade most with laser treatment. Newer tattoos are more difficult to remove.

Unwanted dark and multi-colored tattoos can be safely and effectively eliminated with laser tattoo removal treatments. Using a combination of laser wavelengths that target different ink colors, high-intensity light beams break up the ink particles in the tattoo, revealing clear, ink-free skin with minimal risk of scarring or hypopigmentation.
Successful multi-color tattoo removal requires a high powered laser that can deliver enough energy within the absorption spectrum of a wide range of colors. The high power Q-Switched Nd:YAG 1064nm laser is ideal for treating darker ink colors (black, blue and green), while the 532nm wavelength is effective for brighter ink colors (red, orange and yellow). The treatment mechanically breaks down ink particles without causing thermal damage, causing the tattoo to fade with minimal risk of scarring or hypopigmentation.

What’s laser removal like?

You can get laser tattoo removal at our aesthetic clinic. The tattooed skin will be numbed with a local anesthetic. Next, they’ll apply the laser to the skin. The skin may bleed, blister, and swell following each procedure.

This process is repeated over multiple sessions until you’re happy with the extent to which your tattoo has faded.

The average course of treatment varies greatly from person to person. In general, it takes about six to eight sessions to remove a tattoo with laser treatment. You’ll have to wait six to eight weeks between sessions for best results.

Aftercare

Your technician will give you specific aftercare instructions.

In general, apply antibacterial ointment to your skin for several days following each procedure. The ointment will help heal your skin and reduce the risk of infection. Change the wound dressing each time you apply the ointment.

For at least the next two weeks:

  • Keep the treated area clean and dry.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Avoid exposing the treated area to direct sunlight.
  • Don’t pick at any scabs or blisters that form.

Scarring and other risks

Some people experience scarring. To reduce your risk for scarring, don’t pick at the area as it heals. Also, be sure to follow your provider’s instructions and recommendations.

Surgical removal, also called excision tattoo removal, involves cutting off tattooed skin and stitching remaining skin back together.

Surgical removal is the most invasive method of tattoo removal. However, it’s the only surefire method of completely removing a tattoo.

Who should get surgical removal?

Surgical removal is a very effective method for getting rid of an unwanted tattoo. It’s often less expensive than some of the other options. However, surgical removal will leave a scar, so it’s usually preferred for small tattoos.

What’s surgical removal like?

The procedure can be done in a plastic surgery office. During the procedure, a surgeon will inject your skin with a local anesthetic so you don’t feel pain.

They’ll use a sharp, knifelike instrument called a scalpel to cut away the tattooed skin. Then, they’ll stitch the remaining skin back together.

Surgery to remove a tattoo may take one to several hours, depending on the tattoo’s size and the surgeon’s repair method. It usually takes several weeks for the site of your tattoo removal to heal.

Aftercare

Your surgeon will give you specific aftercare instructions.

In general, apply the prescribed or recommended ointment for several days after the procedure to help heal your skin and avoid risk of infection. Keep the site clean and out of the sun for at least two weeks.

Scarring and other risks

Everyone who chooses surgical tattoo removal experiences scarring. However, you can reduce the risk of severe scarring.

Be sure to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions for best results. Don’t pick at the site, and avoid strenuous activities that put tension on the area immediately after surgery.

 

Please schedule a personal consultation to learn more about these treatments.

More information is available on the website of the American Society For Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.