Tattoos send a message about you and your interests, and when your skin is exposed, tattoos that you’ve been meaning to get rid of are on display for all to see. There are many reasons to have a tattoo removed, whether it’s something you don’t like any more, you feel it’s in an inappropriate place based on your new phase of life, or you want to get new tattoo art in that area. Whatever your reason, a dermatologist can provide you with safe and effective options for tattoo removal to clear your skin and start fresh.
A tattoo is permanent because the ink is injected below the epidermis, into the dermis, or the second under-layer of the skin. The upper layer of skin doesn’t shed the ink, whose particles are also too big for your body’s immune system to remove on its own. Tattoo removal methods have to reach the ink to be effective.
Since the ink is below the epidermis, abrasive treatments can be rougher and less effective than a topical product or laser. Gels and creams, however, are messier and take longer than laser treatments, and the removal chemicals may irritate some skin types. Laser removal is the most popular and effective way to remove a tattoo.
During this treatment, a laser is used to break up the pigment underneath the skin that makes up your tattoo. You may experience some discomfort during this procedure, but the results are worth it. The ink particles are then removed from your body by the immune system, and the area starts to clear up. In most cases, the ink will disappear, resulting in complete tattoo removal and skin clear enough to show off.
Patients typically report minimal pain when getting a tattoo removed. The worst case scenario is usually comparable to the amount of pain the ink application initially caused. Each session can vary, but usually, the pain gets better over time. The average number of sessions is anywhere between six and eight, so you’ll want to begin the tattoo removal process in the spring to enjoy the results by the time the weather warms up.
If you’re planning on having another tattoo in the same spot that is being cleared, keep in mind that it will take several sessions to fade your tattoo to the point where you're able to have the area covered up by new art. In addition, you should consult with your dermatologist about how long you need to wait after it heals before getting a new tattoo applied.
Like any other dermatological procedure, there may be mild side effects. Some patients report a minor skin rash, scarring, hyperpigmentation, and more. Patients with eczema should wait for their skin to be clear of flare-ups before starting their tattoo removal journey. Your dermatologist will be able to help you determine if removing your tattoo is the right choice for you and your skin, especially if you have a skin condition. Since this process has the potential to take even longer for those with eczema, dermatitis, and other skin conditions, the earlier you start the process, the better!
If you’ve been thinking about having a tattoo removed, set up a consultation with one of our dermatologists today to learn more.