Nearly a quarter of adults have one or more tattoos. The percentage of people who regret getting a tattoo is also high ranging from 30% to 50%. This leads us to the question of tattoo removals—Are they effective, safe, and reasonably priced?
Gone are the days where tattoos are considered to be permanent. Now, up to 50% of people with tattoos wish to have them removed at a later point in their life. Before lasers became widely used in dermatology, removing a tattoo was a troublesome task. Procedures were painful and limited in their effectiveness. Scars were a significant issue with tattoo removal in the past. Dermabrasion and deep acid peels were some of the possible methods of removing tattoos, but their efficacy was limited and often painful. Currently, laser removal is considered to be the gold standard treatment for removing tattoos.
Lasers are the predominant method of tattoo removal today. Tattoo lasers are designed to break down specific light absorptions of the tattoo pigment, without damaging the surrounding skin. Using a combination of Q-switched lasers and topical anesthesia, the treatment is relatively painless, and rarely leaves scars. This treatment is a significant improvement on previous methods of tattoo removal both in terms of efficacy as well as safety and pain management.
- Treatment sessions are divided into several sessions and can take from 2 to 10 sessions to remove depending on age, size, and type of tattoo, skin color, as well as the color of the tattoo.
- Procedures do not involve significant or prolonged pain, but some discomfort should be expected. Generally, before laser treatments, a local anesthetic is applied to the area being treated. Many patients describe the feeling like a rubber band being snapped on the skin.
- The number of treatments required will vary depending on your skin color as well as the color of the tattoo pigment that is being removed. Black and dark red colors are generally easier to remove.
- Swelling after the procedure is a common side-effect. Generally, it subsides in a few days.
- Talk to your provider and make sure that you understand the procedures, costs, and potential side-effects.
- Scarring is the most common type of side-effect of this procedure. As scarring is part of the healing mechanism, it is difficult to avoid.
- Infection of the skin may occur.
- Skin discoloration may sometimes occur.