What is Tattoo Removal?
Tattoo removal, as the name suggests, is the permanent removal of tattoos from the body. Tattoo removal has come a long way, and in today’s world, there are different methods available for it. They include:
- Laser tattoo removal
- Surgical method
The effectiveness of the tattoo removal method you choose often depends on various factors. For instance, older tattoos are harder to remove as opposed to newer ones. Tattoos are also easier to remove when they are of black, brown, dark blue and green colours, as compared to others. The effectiveness of the procedure may also depend on other factors including:
- Complexion; darker skin makes it harder to remove
- Underlying skin conditions like eczema
- Underlying health conditions, like herpes, affect the skin.
How the Tattoo Removal is Done?
Laser Tattoo Removal: This is the most commonly used tattoo removal technique today, as it is most successful and cost-efficient. Laser tattoo removal, however, does not completely remove the tattoo. The lasers used in tattoo removal work by sending strong energy pulses through the skin, that heat up and dissolve the ink beneath. Laser tattoo removal, hence, only lightens/fades the tattoo significantly till it is not visible.
For this treatment to be effective, you may need to undergo several sessions to significantly fade the tattoos. Older and bigger tattoos may, hence, take longer to remove as compared to newer and smaller ones, as the newer ink is easier to dissolve. Laser tattoo removal also has a low risk of scarring due to its minimally invasive nature. However, the scarring could occur if scabs formed in the process are picked at. Laser tattoo removal may also be a risky procedure in some cases, especially for those with darker skin tones, as the wrong type of laser could result in changes in skin color.
Surgical method: Also known as excision tattoo removal, the surgical method entails cutting away the tattooed skin and stitching the remaining skin together. It is an invasive procedure but is often less expensive that laser treatments. Due to its invasive nature, however, it does lead to scarring and hence is usually only preferred for small tattoos.
As it is invasive in nature, the procedure will be done in a surgery office setting, under local anesthetic. Depending on the size of the tattoo, this procedure could vary in time, taking up to a few hours in some cases.
Dermabrasion: Dermabrasion involves the usage of a sanding device that removes layers of the skin, draining the ink from each until the tattoo is ultimately erased. This is, however, not a commonly preferred method as its effectiveness varies from person to person.
This procedure is not recommended for those with sensitive skin or with underlying skin conditions like eczema. If you happen to take blood thinners, this treatment is not recommended for you as well, due to the risk of bleeding and bruising. Dermabrasion is also not recommended for those with a darker complexion as it could cause pigment changes as well.
In a typical dermabrasion session, a local anesthetic will be administered, after which a high-speed rotating device will be used to sand the top layers of skin and drain the ink out. Depending on the size and color of the tattoo, the procedure time may vary.
What is Pre and Post Procedure requirement for Tattoo Removal?
Laser Tattoo Removal: Since laser tattoo removal takes more than one session to become completely effective, it is imperative to follow several skincare habits to ensure that the skin heals well in between sessions. Some steps to follow would include:
- Keeping the area clean and dry
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothes
- Avoiding direct sun exposure onto the treated region
- Not picking on scabs or blisters that may form throughout the process.
Surgical method: After the procedure, you will be prescribed creams or ointments that will prevent the treated region from getting infected, while aiding the healing process. The healing process itself may take up to a few weeks. During the recovery period, you may also be given additional instructions, including:
- Keep the site clean and dry
- Avoid direct sun exposure for at least 2 weeks
Dermabrasion: After the procedure, is it natural for the treated area to feel painful and raw for a few days, which will eventually fade away in the following weeks. During this recovery period, it is imperative to follow the aftercare steps suggested by the doctor. These could include:
- Application of prescribed cream/ointment to the treated region
- Avoiding direct sun exposure
- Application of sunscreen on the site every time you go outside
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothes
- Avoiding water exposure to the site
Although it varies from person to person, dermabrasion could lead to some scarring. This can be prevented by:
- Using the prescribed creams regularly or as directed
- Using sunscreen while outside
- Using anti-scarring oils or creams regularly (once the site is healed)