If you find yourself wanting to get rid of your old ink, you’re not alone. Many people have “tattoo regret” and want to get them removed, writes Linda A. Johnson for the Washington Post.
Nearly thirty percent of adult Americans have tattoos, and about a quarter of those people want to get their tattoos removed, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
People of all ages are seeking tattoo removals, but millennials have been looking to get their tattoos removed in large numbers.
The newest laser removal technology can remove most tattoos without leaving scars, but the process can be long and costly. Insurance companies don’t cover tattoo removals.
There are three ways to remove an unwanted tattoo, laser removal, dermabrasion, and surgical removal.
Laser is usually the go-to method for tattoo removal. The laser penetrates the skin with light pulses of different wavelengths for each color of ink. The light pulses break open skin cells and the ink inside is broken up into tiny particles. This allows the body’s lymph system to pick up the colored ink and slowly remove it. A topical pain reliever is given before the treatments to dull the pain.
“This usually produces the best result, but takes four to 10 sessions, depending on the tattoo’s size and colors, the patient’s skin tone and other factors. Each session can run about $450 for a small tattoo to $1,000 for a large one,” writes Johnson.
Dermabrasion is another method of tattoo removal. It is the process of scraping away the top layers of the skin. Dermabrasion can leave scars and does not always remove all of the ink.
Surgical tattoo removal involves cutting out the top layers of the skin. Similar to dermabrasion, surgical removal can leave scars but it is considered a good option if the tattoo needs to be removed quickly due to an allergic reaction.
“Wait till you can do it the right way,” said Eric F. Bernstein, past president of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery. “If you try to do something on the cheap, you take a fixable problem and turn it into an unfixable problem with a big scar.”
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