It is estimated that more than 10 million Americans have at least one tattoo today. A significant portion of these individuals may change their mind about their tattoo over the course of a lifetime and pursue treatment for tattoo removal. Fortunately, what was once considered a permanent inking is now reversible in many situations. The ability to perform effective tattoo removal will depend on the quality and color of the ink and the overall size of the design.
Reasons for Tattoo Removal
There are a number of reasons why an individual might consider tattoo removal, including:
- Lifestyle or employment changes
- Regrets about decision
- Tattoo becomes faded
- Replacement of one tattoo for another
Factors Affecting Successful Tattoo Removal
Tattoo removal is not an exact science and there are a number of factors that can impact the success of the procedure. Some of these factors are:
- Professional tattoos with even pigmentation under the skin’s surface are easier to remove than homemade, uneven tattoos
- Black inks tends to be easier to remove than other ink colors, especially yellow and aqua
- Older tattoos are often easier to remove than newer tattoos
How does laser tattoo removal work?
High intensitiy laser travels through the surface to break up the pigment below. The particles of pigment can then be reabsorbed by the body. Laser tattoo removal can be performed as an outpatient procedure using a topical anesthetic to enhance patient comfort.
Patients describe the sensation as similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. If a topical or local injectable anesthetic is used, less discomfort is felt throughout the procedure. After treatment, an ice pack may be placed on the area to soothe the skin. Healing ointment such as aquaphor may be applied to promote the healing process.
Laser tattoo removal is usually completed in a number of sessions, spaced a few weeks apart. In some cases, it may be nearly impossible to remove the entire tattoo.