People get tattoos for any reason, and sometimes for no reason. We get tattoos express your love, to express one’s own self, as a fan or admirer of some idol, under peer pressure, to be up with the Jones’es or maybe just because its hip to get one.
Whatever the case is, many of us in adult life end up regretting this youthful adventure. It could be because the tattoo reminds you of a broken love relationship or may be that visible tattoo is coming in your way of getting good job or joining a coveted university. In other words, you desperately need to get it out of your way, but the very memory of the painful procedure you went through to get it done gives you cold feet.
There are several ways a person can undo a tattoo or at least make it less visible. All, barring one, are very painful and cumbersome. But before discussing ways to remove tattoos, let’s first understand what is a tattoo.
What is a Tattoo
A tattoo, or dermal pigmentation, as the term self explains is a mark made on the skin by inserting pigment into the skin. It is accomplished by injecting this pigment into small deep holes made in the skin. Tattoos made this way are relatively permanent.
Apart from permanent tattoos there are also temporary tattoos. They are more like body sticker, similar to a decal. Temporary tattoos are made on the skin by transferring the design on the skin, rather than inside the skin, using water. Temporary tattoos are waterproof, but can be removed with oil-based creams, and are intended to last only a few days.
Methods of Tattoo Removal
There are several methods of tattoo removal available today showing variable performance, result wise and procedure wise. It is the size of the tattoo, its location, and the length of time it has been on the skin which make the physician decide upon the method to be used. The patient’s healing prowess also plays its part in deciding the method to be used.
Let’s now discuss the methods.
It is one of the most popular methods around, especially when the dyed area is small. The major advantage here is the removal of the entire tattoo in one go, particularly if it is small tattoo. Larger tattoos, however, require multiple surgical sessions where the centre of a tattoo is removed first followed by removal of sides at a later date.
The surgical removal process involves an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the area after which the tattoo is removed. The edges are then brought together and sutured.
With this procedure, there is minimal bleeding which is easily controlled with electrocautery. In some cases involving large tattoos, a skin graft taken from another part of the body may be necessary.
Rubbing the tattoo off
In this method, the tattoo is literally scrapped off. It is quite painful and cumbersome procedure but practiced nonetheless. There are two ways by which a tattoo is rubbed off the skin:
This procedure of tattoo removal involves spraying of a portion of the tattoo with a freezing solution, after which that part is sanded with a rotary abrasive instrument causing the skin to peel. Because some bleeding is bound to occur, a dressing is immediately applied to the area.
This is an age old method of tattoo removal. As with the other methods, a local anesthetic is used on and around the tattooed area after which a solution of ordinary tap water dipped in table salt is applied. An abrading apparatus such as the one used with dermabrasion, or an even simpler device such as a wooden block wrapped in gauze, is used to vigorously abrade the area. When the area becomes deep red in color, a dressing is applied.
Laser tattoo removal is considered as the best of the solutions available. Though it is costly and might require multiple sessions, it ensures that tattoo removal is relatively pain free and blood free. Also the results have been quite encouraging and tattoos have been either totally removed or there were dramatic fading.
Laser tattoo removal procedure involves exposing the tattoo to the pulses of light from the laser, usually Q-switched Nd:Yag, Q-switched Alexandrite and the Q-switched Ruby. This exposure breaks up the tattoo pigment, which are removed from the body by the scavenger cells. More than one treatment is usually necessary to remove the entire tattoo.