Tattoo Removal: Cost, Risks, Recovery

Overview

Tattoo removal is a procedure designed to remove an unwanted tattoo. Tattoo ink is placed beneath the top layer of the skin, which makes tattoo removal more complicated and expensive than the original tattoo application.

Generally, tattoo removal techniques include laser surgery, surgical removal and dermabrasion. The type of treatment you need depends on the age, size, and color of your tattoo. The color of your skin, as well as how deep the tattoo pigment goes, will also affect the removal technique.

Candidates

A good candidate for tattoo removal includes:

  • Physically healthy and do not have other illnesses that impair the healing
  • Nonsmokers
  • Non-drug users
  • Have a positive and realistic outlook toward the surgery

Cost

Tattoo removal has an average cost of around $1,200. Multiple treatments, from four to eight or more, will be needed, spaced about a month apart. The cost of each treatment will be determined by the size of your tattoo, your geographic location, and your doctor’s experience, but generally average about $200 to $500 per treatment.

You may find cheaper treatment using older technology, but it is likely to be less successful and need more treatments.

Besides, do-it-yourself tattoo removal creams and other home treatments aren’t likely to be effective and can cause skin irritation or other reactions.

Risks

Scarring is the most common side effect of most types of tattoo removal. Infection or skin discoloration are possible as well. And it is possible that your tattoo will not be completely removed.

However, laser treatment is often safer than many other tattoo removal methods and has fewer side effects.

Preparation

If you are considering tattoo removal, first consult a dermatologist. The dermatologist will explain the options for tattoo removal and help you choose an effective method.

Some tattoo inks are more responsive to laser treatment than others. Besides, small tattoos might be more suitable for surgical removal, while other tattoos are too large to be removed with a scalpel.

Surgical steps

Laser Surgery

Laser surgery is the most common method of tattoo removal. Lasers remove tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors with a high-intensity light beam. Black tattoo pigment absorbs all laser wavelengths, making it the easiest color to treat. Other colors can only be treated by selected lasers.

Complete removal of a tattoo is usually not accomplished in one laser treatment session. Laser tattoo removal often requires more than one treatment to reduce the size of the ink particles.

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion involves the use of a medical grinding tool to remove the outer layers of the skin in a controlled manner. The goal is to remove the layers of the skin that contain the ink particles, thereby removing the tattoo.

This procedure is painful and it is typically performed with either a local, regional or even a general anesthetic.

Due to unpredictable results and less effective outcomes compared with laser or a combination of laser and excision, dermabrasion is not a common choice.

Surgical removal

During surgical removal, the skin is numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic. The tattoo is removed with a scalpel, and the edges of skin are stitched back together. Surgical tattoo removal is effective, but it leaves a scar and might be practical only for small tattoos.

Recovery

After laser tattoo removal, the patient will have an open wound that need to be taken care of and he or she may suffer from swelling, itching, and redness, and possibly blistering or bleeding. The patient needs to clean the wound with soap and water daily, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and then keep it covered with some type of dressing until it is healed. Typically, healing is completed around five days after the procedure is done.

After surgical removal, antibacterial ointment helps promote healing.

After dermabrasion, the affected area feels sore and raw for several days after the procedure. The wounds as a result of dermabrasion typically take longer to heal than those created by laser tattoo removal. They are likely to take around 10-14 days to heal.

Keywords: Tattoo removal.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.