Tattoos have become increasingly popular in all societies with an estimated 36 percent of American adults now owning at least one. However, people get tattoos for various reasons and when the time comes away they sometimes want to remove them, and there are ways to go about it.
One of the most common reasons why people want to remove their unwanted tattoo is because they no longer like the design or color. Another reason is that they no longer like the placement, where in some cases a tattoo might be a hindrance to someone’s career. And lastly, tattoos are also removed because of religious and cultural reasons.
As tattoos have become quite popular, more and more options have been made available as to how they can be removed. In this article, some of the tattoo removal methods that could be used will be discussed as well as their pros and cons.
Generally, the three most common ways to remove tattoos are using laser removal techniques, natural methods like salabrasion and cryosurgery, or dermabrasion. These are not the only options though as there are other ways to treat tattoo problems depending on the type of ink used in the tattooing process. For example, you can try to use tattoo removal creams to remove some fresh or small tattoos.
Table of Contents (clickable)
- 1 Laser Tattoo Removal
- 2 Surgical Removal
- 3 Natural Methods
- 4 Tattoo Removal Creams
- 5 Conclusion
Laser Tattoo Removal
The most common way of removing tattoos today is through laser removal. Laser tattoo removal works by breaking down the particles in the tattoo ink to fade the image, which are then absorbed by the cells and removed from the skin via phagocytosis. Pigment-specific lasers are used with an appropriate wavelength of light that causes the tattoo pigment to heat up and fragment into smaller ink particles.
Laser tattoo removal can be very effective in tattoo removal; however, certain factors must be considered before selecting this option. Not everyone is a good candidate for laser removal as not everyone’s skin type is suitable for treatment. For example, people with darker skin should not be treated, as the laser will affect their skin tone in an undesirable way.
Furthermore, since laser tattoo removal is quite expensive, people should consider thoroughly whether they really want to go through the process of removing their tattoo or if it is not that important. There are risks involved when getting a tattoo removed by laser but it can be minimized by finding a good doctor. However, there is always the risk that the laser will not work or will not remove all of the tattoo.
The cost of getting a tattoo removed via laser ranges from $400 to $1,200 an hour. To remove a standard 8×10 image would take about ten hours and could cost up to $12,000.
Types of Lasers for Tattoo Removal
Laser tattoo removal machines come in a wide variety of types and wavelengths, some of which are better suited for complete tattoo removal than others.
Ruby Short Pulse Laser
This is one of the first devices used to remove tattoo. The depth of the laser beam entering the skin is 1 mm. This laser breaks well blue, green, and black tattoos. It requires long repeated sessions and does not work on red and reddish dyes. It is difficult to remove dyes that are deep in the dermis.
Works and acts similarly to the ruby laser.
A neodymium laser device will be the perfect solution for people with light-colored tattoos and/or deep-seated pigment. It is a device of selective exposure, which means the medical professional can choose which areas to remove and which wave to use. With careful control of the procedure, any tattoo can be removed quickly and effectively.
PicoSure is the most technologically advanced type of laser available today. This picosecond pulse LED laser emits ultrashort pulses of near-infrared light.
PicoSure tattoo removal laser targets tattoo ink by emitting ultrashort picosecond pulses of low energy that shatter the target pigment into tiny nano-sized ink particles. This is then safely removed by the body’s immune system in a process called phagocytosis. PicoSure is effective for all colors and can treat multicolored tattoos in a single session.
PicoSure is the only machine with a picosecond pulse duration, which means it can shatter tattoo ink particles at a higher rate. It gets 4-6 mm deep under the skin and affects any pigment color. The picosecond laser is the gold standard in tattoo removal laser treatment and tattoos of all colors from all skin phototypes.
CO2-laser (carbon dioxide laser)
A very powerful laser that works through laser vaporization. But it can leave scars, so we recommend removing tattoos using it only if the ink is not too deep.
Diode laser treatment and LPI machines are not suitable for the tattoo removal process at all.
Is Laser Tattoo Removal Painful?
The pain varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors. Lidocaine is common local anesthesia used, which eases the process and decreases the sensation of pain. The pain itself is a sensation of burning and itching. The sensations are comparable or slightly more painful than when you get the tattoo inked. But the removal process is much longer than the tattooing. It feels, roughly, like your skin is being burned while constantly being electrocuted.
At the same time, laser tattoo removal is less painful than other methods of tattoo removal, such as surgical or chemical. And even this relatively safe and effective method has a few most common side effects, such as skin irritation, burns, a small chance of scars, pigmentation disorders, and, of course, redness and swelling.
Surgical removal is the process by which excess skin is removed, to allow for more of the ink to be cut away from the body.
The essence of the surgical excision is to take a piece of skin from another part of the body and graft it onto the tattooed area. But there is never a guarantee that such skin will take root. Other disadvantages of this surgical removal are the fact that it will leave a scar. The surgical tattoo removal is only suitable for small drawings. The plastic surgery of tattoo ink from deep in your tissue can be an expensive process.
Salabrasion is a process that involves removing the upper layer of skin using an exfoliating product, which can either be made up of ground pumice stone or salt crystals. Salabrasion works by removing the top layer of tattooed skin along with the tattoo’s pigment, allowing new skin to grow in its place. As the skin is naturally regenerating, there are no risks of scarring or ink loss with this method.
Although it can be very effective at tattoo removal, salabrasion can be quite painful for the patient. It also has a lengthy recovery time as new layers of skin needs to regenerate before another salabrasion treatment can be done. Furthermore, natural methods like salabrasion take longer to work than laser tattoo removal procedure.
The cost of salabrasion is relatively low; however, it does vary depending on where the person goes for treatment and how much skin they want to be removed. The average cost would be around $200-$400.
Cryosurgery is another natural method that can be used on a tattoo. It works by killing the cells of the tattoo ink through exposure to extreme cold. A disadvantage of this procedure is scarring may appear after treatment, which usually lasts around six months. Also, the colors in tattoos are not susceptible to this method which means some tattoos may be completely unaffected.
Finally, dermabrasion is a procedure that uses a wire brush to remove the skin’s uppermost layers in order to treat scars and blemishes. It works in much the same way as salabrasion in tattoo removal by removing the top layer of skin along with ink particles. In addition to tattoo removal, it can also be used for the treatment of scars and wrinkles.
A disadvantage of this tattoo removal method is that the recovery time can take up to six months or longer; however, scarring does not usually occur when done by a reputable doctor. Moreover, dermabrasion is relatively inexpensive and goes for about $150 to $400.
Tattoo Removal Creams
There are many tattoo removal creams available on the market that claim to remove the body art by breaking down their pigments. It can be used at home by consumers and require a minimum amount of money investment although it is not advisable for people with sensitive skin.
All of these methods have pros and cons and they should be used carefully because bad or inexperienced doctors can cause permanent damage. After looking at these different tattoo removal options, which one would you pick? Why? What other methods are out there that are not mentioned in the article?
But remember, whatever method of tattoo removal is chosen, the procedure should be entrusted to a professional.