You've spent hours choosing your design, lived through the pain in the chair, avoided picking at the scab and now you've decided you can't stand the sight of the ugly thing. In this case, you would not be alone. It is estimated that over 50% of people who get a tattoo live to rue the day they visited the tattoo parlor.
This is probably due to the impulsivity factor discussed in the first chapter of this book, which warns against the folly of getting a tattoo while drunk, high, in love or on vacation. This is why it is so important to "think before you ink."
Most dermatologists will tell you that complete tattoo removal just isn't possible. Although modern technologies can perform a remarkable job of removing most of the ink, most of them also leave some kind of mark behind on your skin whether it be a blemish, scar or variation in skin tone. It is hard to tell what is more despicable, the accursed tattoo or the marring left behind on the skin by removal methods.
The potential to make your tattoo vanish depends on a number of factors including skin type, skin color, how well you heal as well as the size the tattoo. It also depends on where the tattoo was placed on the body and the type of ink used as many different types of ink are used around the world.
Most tattoo removal technologies remove black ink the best but removing color tattoos can be very difficult. In fact, some color tattoos suffer from even greater discoloration and blotchiness after a tattoo removal treatment!
Tattoo Removal Technology and Techniques
There are four main ways to remove a tattoo. None of them are inexpensive or painfree as the ink from a tattoo is designed to permeate to the deepest layer of the epidermis.
♦ Dermabrasion - With this technique an abrasive machine (like a sander) or chemicalbased cream is used on the skin to rub off the tattoo.
♦ Excision - This involves surgically removing the tattoo and then having a doctor surgically stitch up the area. This technique is better in the case of tiny tattoos. Large tattoos require general anesthesia and the application of a skin graft to the area.
♦ Cyrosurgery -The area of the skin is frozen and then the tattoo is surgically removed. Once again t his is usually only effective with small tattoos.
♦ Laser Surgery - Lasers emit short pulses of light. When used for tattoo removal, this light passes through the top layers of skin and in to the pigment of the ink in the dermis. The energy from the laser's light causes the pigment to break down in to smaller particles that can be removed by the body's immune system. This treatment avoids damaging the surrounding skin because the laser's wavelength is targeted specifically at the tattoo ink pigments. However once again, this procedure does not always work on color tattoos as lasers work best when there is a contrast of black ink against white skin. Laser removal does not work at all on people with darker skins. Tattoo removal is expensive as well as time consuming. It can cost from hundreds up thousands of dollars and, generally, tattoo removal isn't covered by health plans or insurance.
Usually your doctor reefers you to a dermatologist who may then refer you to a dermatological surgeon. Alternatively, your tattooist may be able to recommend a tattoo removal specialist. Whatever you do, make sure that the actual removal is carried out by a licensed medical professional.