The history of tattoo removal is almost as old as the art of tattooing itself. For centuries, people who have gone under the ink have tried many crude the painful ways to remove tattoos.
Some of these methods are still in use today. Before anyone attempts to have a tattoo removed, they must learn all the available treatment options, their details, and the risks involved for tattoo removal. If you have decided to rethink your ink, here are five removal methods, their benefits, and the risks involved.
Dermabrasion and Salabrasion
Dermabrasion and salabrasion are two of the oldest methods of tattoo removal. Both are methods of abrasion of the epidermis and dermis. Dermabrasion is the abrasion of the skin with a rotating mechanical instrument. Salabrasion is, by contrast, abrasion with a salt-based solution. Both of these methods are very painful and often result in visible, long-term damage to the epidermis.
Skin excision is the surgical removal of tattooed skin. This method almost always results in a scar, the size of which depends on the size of the tattoo.
Skin excision works well for small tattoos, but they are almost impossible to do on large tattoos. Further, although this method sounds like it would be complete, surgeons can rarely cut deep enough to remove all the ink. In some cases, skin grafts can be done, but they are not recommended.
Subcutaneous Injections of Acid-Based Solutions
Injections of glycolic acid-based solutions and other liquids are sometimes used under the skin to affect the ink in the tattoo. These solutions can leave scars, marks, and other long-term effects on the skin. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of this method of tattoo removal has not been proven, especially since the liquid is not always expelled from the dermis to the epidermis.
Tattoo Removal Creams
Tattoo removal creams have become popular over the years since they are perceived as an easy and inexpensive alternative to other methods. Unfortunately, the results that are often obtained don’t match the promises.
In some cases, tattoos may fade, but most often, this happens only slightly. Further, these creams can be costly and leave their buyers wishing that they had applied their money to other methods.
Laser Tattoo Removal
In the hands of a qualified and experienced physician, laser tattoo removal has proven to be the safest and most effective method that does not damage the outer layer of the skin. Even if other methods of tattoo removal have proven ineffective, laser removal can be highly effective and is often used to complete the work of other methods. This is true even in cases where there is damaged or scarred skin. In fact, along with laser treatments, skin can be rejuvenated with microdermabrasion to reproduce collagen.
Laser treatments involve the use of different wavelengths of light to target different tattoo depths and colors. Lasers work by delivering energy to break up the ink photomechanically rather than by heat as in older methods. This not only removes the tattoo but leaves the outer layer of the skin undamaged.
Laser tattoo removal is the only method approved by the FDA to reach ink in the dermis layer of skin successfully. Laser removal often takes more than one treatment, but the effects are most often very satisfying.