You should have listened to your friends when they said you’d regret getting your significant other’s name tattooed on your arm, and you really should have known how your mother would react upon seeing “Momma” scrawled across your back. Tattoos are created by injecting colored pigment under the skin with a needle, and are relatively permanent.

Lucky for you, and your poor mother, there are several methods for tattoo removal. The success of the removal depends on several factors including; the location, size, the individual’s ability to heal, how the tattoo was applied, and how old the tattoo is. A physician will review these factors while choosing the best method for you.

Dermabrasion is the method in which a small area of the tattoo is sprayed with a solution that freezes the skin. The physician then uses an instrument to “sand” the skin, peeling layers away. Some bleeding is likely to occur, and a dressing is immediately applied to the area.

The Salabrasion method has been performed for centuries, and is still occasionally used today. The tattoo and surrounding area are numbed by a local anesthetic and then rubbed vigorously with salt or a salt block until the layers of skin trapping the ink are literally rubbed off and the ink able to escape the skin.

Excision is a method used to remove small areas of the tattoo. The patient is given local anesthesia to the affected area and the tattoo is surgically cut from the skin. The edges of the remaining skin are sutured together. It is a simple procedure with a mild recovery time as long as there are no complications, such as infection. If that tattoo is too large it may be necessary to excise the areas in stages, removing the center of the tattoo first, then the perimeter at a later date. A skin graft may be taken from another part of the body to replace the portion of skin that was removed..

In recent years physicians have considered laser surgery one of the best methods of tattoo removal. Anesthesia is not required for laser removal, but depending on the patient’s pain threshold a physician may decide to use a numbing cream or local painkillers. The patient is given protective eyewear and pulses of light are directed onto the tattoo, breaking up the pigments. Over the next few weeks the pigments are absorbed into the body. Black and blue pigments respond well to laser treatments, whereas greens can be resistant, and red pigments do not respond at all to Ruby laser light. Thanks to new laser technology scarring is not a significant risk for laser tattoo removal.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body and your first line of defense against infection. Anything you do to damage or break the skin weakens your natural immune responses. Just as your tattooist did when you got your new tattoo, you doctor should give you precise instructions on how to care for your skin as it heals. Keeping the area clean is of the utmost importance. There is no complete method of tattoo removal. While the procedures and patient responses vary, you’re essentially trading a tattoo for residual pigmentation and some degree of scarring. Before choosing to get a tattoo, make sure your motives are lasting and you
tattooist is reputable. Stay away from fads and choose a design that is deeply meaningful to you.

Removal of your little mistake isn’t going to be cheap. Depending on the size, type, and amount of treatments needed; the average cost can be from $150 for the excision of a small tattoo, up to $5,000 for larger pieces that may take several treatments.

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