Ever-growing in popularity, the old stigma around tattoos has been replaced with a new age widespread acceptance. In fact, the standard for sound cloud rappers these days seems to be a minimum of five boldly placed, obscene face tattoos. No judgments here, I’ve made more than a few bad choices in the way of inking my body. Unfortunately, despite increased popularity, tattoo removal has seen no significant improvement. Options are limited and expensive, but for those of us with poorly done cartoon characters on our bodies, finding an effective procedure borders on the line of necessity. Thankfully, advancements in technologies ensure that effective options do exist for those wanting to change or completely remove a bad decision.
Tattoo removal creams sound like an absolute God-send. Conveniently applicable at home, and for a relatively low cost, creams and ointments have gained significant popularity in the past few years. Let me stop you before you continue down this enticing rabbit hole. Tattoo removal creams do not work, plain and simple. Tattoo ink is injected into the dermis, a deeper layer of skin that is unreachable from external chemicals and materials, which is how the ink is retained despite the wear and tear of life. If you look closely, almost all tattoo removal creams advertise for lightening or fading of ink, knowing that they cannot guarantee anything more. Most of these products contain harmful chemicals and carry significant side-effect risks, increasing the potential of worsening an already bad tattoo for minimal to no benefit.
Dermabrasion and Excision
Not for the faint of heart, dermabrasion and excision are procedures performed by licensed medical practitioners. Dermabrasion is the act of deep exfoliation done with a high-speed brush instrument. In essence, by repeatedly abrading the top layer of skin all the way down to the dermis, the ink is removed. Due to the aggressiveness of dermabrasion, it’s only recommended for smaller tattoos. However, multiple treatments are required and are accompanied by a high risk of scarring, making this an unpopular method with many limitations.
Excision is a surgical removal of the tattoo also sometimes used on small to medium-sized tattoos. As you may already be envisioning, a surgeon used a scalpel and removes the tattoo by cutting out a portion of skin. Although scarring is almost guaranteed, this process is a one-time process making it quick and cost-effective.
Laser Tattoo Removal
So far, the outlook appears grim. I can relate to being off-put by the aforementioned methods. Fortunately, the option of laser tattoo removal brings better news. Utilizing specialized lasers, a certified clinician removes the tattoo by passing light through the skin that is selectively aimed at the tattoo pigment. The light causes the ink to fragment allowing it to be absorbed harmlessly by the body.
Great, but does it work? Absolutely. Laser tattoo removal is the safest, most effective method available. Black and white or color, old or new, laser removal can work for nearly everyone. Although accompanied with initial redness and occasional blistering, these common side effects dissipate leaving no long-term signs. This is also a great option for those looking to lighten their tattoo enough to have a cover-up placed over it. The primary downside is the cost. Most full removals require anywhere from three to ten treatments, with prices typically ranging from $75-$500 per session. Usually, clinics will allow you to purchase a package of treatments and save some money, but if you select this option your wallet will definitely take the brunt on it.
Ultimately, all tattoo removal options have pros and cons associated with them. I cannot recommend highly enough that you consult a doctor and speak about which treatment plan is best for you. Attempting to resolve a bad tattoo on your own can have long-term consequences and cost you far more money.