Four Options For Aesthetic Tattoo Removal

If you're thinking of having a tattoo safely removed, your skin care specialist may suggest various options. Laser tattoo removal is the most common procedure for tattoo removal, although it can be costly and involve several sessions over a period of many weeks. Other options include dermabrasion, cryotherapy and pulsed light therapy. A dermatologist or specialist in aesthetic medicine can determine which method might work best for you.

Do It Professionally

Perhaps you've grown tired of your body art, or maybe you feel it no longer reflects your lifestyle or personal beliefs. Whatever your reasons, having a tattoo removed may be an intense procedure, often involving high cost and a degree of discomfort. For a safe and effective solution, it's best to consult with a medical professional who will take your health history into consideration when suggesting a solution. The following four methods may be discussed:

1. Laser Tattoo Removal Many skin care specialists commonly recommend the use of high-tech lasers for removing unwanted body ink. A laser utilizes highly concentrated light pulses, targeting the specific area of tattooed skin. During these treatments, which often consist of several weekly sessions, small fragments of tattooed ink will be broken down. The body's natural immune system will eventually pass these ink fragments as waste, which is passed through urine.

It's important to choose a professional with experience in laser tattoo removal. During a consultation, you will be informed of how many sessions it may take to remove the tattoo. You will also be told of the possible side effects or risks. This may include:

  • Scarring: Depending upon the size of the tattoo, there may be a risk of scarring to the site. This is due to the removal of skin pigment. Hyper-pigmentation may occur in some individuals, leaving the skin darker in the removal area.

  • Infection: There is a slight chance of the site becoming infected, although precautionary measures can minimize the risk. A specialist will use sterilized equipment and antiseptic to prevent contamination.

  • Discomfort During the Procedure: Some individuals experience pain or a burning sensation during the laser sessions, especially for the removal of large tattoos. To help minimize the discomfort, your skin care specialist may apply a cooling gel and numbing agent to the site before the procedure begins.

2. Dermabrasion

This method is not as widely used as laser removal, as it is more invasive, with an increased chance of side effects or scarring. The risk of scarring is increased for individuals with darker skin tones. With this procedure, top layers of skin are sanded away to obliterate the ink of the tattoo. While an anesthetic cream or gel will be applied to the site to lessen pain, hardening of the skin is also necessary. This is accomplished with the use of a "freezing" spray that makes the skin layers easier to sand and remove. The sanding tool, sometimes referred to as a dermatone, resembles a wheel. Dermabrasion tattoo removal may not be suitable for diabetics who are prone to infection, or those who tend to scar easily.

3. Cryotherapy

This technique involves freezing the site with liquid nitrogen, although it is not a preferred method of skin care professionals. While the nitrogen eradicates the tattoo, it may damage top layers of skin, causing permanent scarring or possible nerve damage in some individuals. When performed in conjunction with dermabrasion, cryotherapy may cause severe discomfort if the patient is not properly anesthetized. Cryotherapy generally is more effective for black or dark color ink removal. Yellows, reds and greens may be more difficult to remove with this procedure. In addition, cryotherapy may be more costly than dermabrasion tattoo removal.

4. Pulsed Light Therapy

This high intensity light treatment is not delivered via a laser. Instead, intense light pulses are aimed at the tattoo site with the use of a special tool or electronic hand wand. Pulse light therapy is often preferred by those with a low tolerance to pain, as it does not cause as much discomfort as other methods. You may find this treatment available at high-end beauty salons, although it is best performed by a medical aesthetician.

As you weigh your options for tattoo removal or other aesthetic procedures, go to sites and compile a list of your concerns, questions and medical history. It's important to discuss any medical conditions or health concerns you have with your skin care specialist. Some procedures may not be recommended for individuals with certain medical conditions, sensitivities or allergies.