How Do I Get a Tattoo Removed?

Tips to Prepare for Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal is a multi-step process that is usually painful and expensive. The physical discomfort and cost of getting a tattoo removed is proportional to the size of the tattoo. If you have tattoo you no longer like, or a tattoo you've hated ever since the ink dried, you've probably considered tattoo removal many times.

A dermatologist performs tattoo removal by laser or dermabrasion. During laser tattoo removal, the doctor directs concentrated beams of color at the tattoo, which breaks up the ink particles into smaller pieces. The body's immune system can then clear the area to remove the ink over time. Several treatments are usually required for laser removal, and results are better on people who have lighter skin and superficial tattoos on the fatty areas of the body.

During dermabrasion, the dermatologist or plastic surgeon removes layers of skin from the tattoo, thereby removing much of the ink. Like laser removal, dermabrasion requires several sessions to get the best results. Both dermabrasion and laser removal are somewhat painful, and as cosmetic procedures, they are not covered by insurance.

Before you schedule an appointment at a laser or dermabrasion clinic, you should learn how to prepare for tattoo removal and understand the risks.

(1) First, research all the available methods of tattoo removal. Laser treatments are somewhat less painful than dermabrasion, but not all tattoo colors cannot be removed by laser. If you have a multicolored tattoo, you may not be a good candidate for laser treatments. Dermabrasion is cheaper, but extremely painful and has a higher risk of scarring than other methods. The upside is that it removes any color of tattoo ink.

Excision is a third method. During excision, the doctor cuts away the tattoo and sews the skin back together. It's an effective method that only works on small tattoos.

(2) Know your tolerance for pain and your budget. If you have a large or very dark tattoo, you will need several sessions of treatments to make the tattoo disappear. Large cross tattoos and butterfly tattoos with intense ink colors are typically harder to remove.

If you opt for dermabrasion, but can't complete the treatments because of the pain, you will be left with an ugly partial tattoo. If you opt for laser treatments but run out of funds, you will be left with a faded tattoo. Know what you are getting into before you start.

(3) Understand that tattoo removal requires a large time commitment. In general, you cannot undergo the complete set of treatments within a week or even a month. Depending on your tattoo, you may need to wait 4-6 weeks between each treatment. The entire tattoo removal process could take more than 6 months. Be patient.

(4) There are several things you can do at home to make a tattoo fade before you attempt removal treatment sessions. Sunlight will cause a tattoo to lighten, and there are some tattoo bleaching creams that also work. This can decrease the number of treatment you need and save you time and money--and pain!

© Had2Know 2010