In today’s society tattoos are a big part of our culture; people of all ages and from all walks of life seem to be sporting them. Figures suggest that in the United States there are more than 10 million people with at least one tattoo. It is also said that at least 50% of people who have them later regret getting them. Until recently there were few choices as to how you had a tattoo removed. Now, though, unwanted tattoos are increasingly being removed by laser treatment.
A tattoo is a permanent mark that is put on a person’s skin with an electric tattoo machine. The skin is punctured by the vertical motion of the needle. Until recently tattoo removal involved surgically removing the tattoo which left scars and was very painful. Today the use of lasers is a popular method of removing an unwanted tattoo. Lasers emit wavelengths of light that are referred to as pulses. A course of laser treatments can remove a tattoo effectively and relatively painlessly, and has a very low risk of scarring.
The type of laser used will depend upon the colour of the tattoo. Black or blue inks are the easiest to remove. The most difficult colours to remove are green and yellow. The laser passes short pulses of very strong light through the top layers of the skin. The ink pigment is broken down into small particles by these pulses.
There is some discomfort when you are getting the laser treatment done. This discomfort has been described as like being snapped by an elastic band. A prescription anaesthetic cream is sometimes applied before the laser treatment. Some people opt to have a local anaesthetic injected into the area before their treatment.
The treatments take just minutes to complete, but usually more than one treatment is needed to remove the tattoo completely. The number of treatments needed will be affected by the size of the tattoo and how deep the ink is ingrained. The usual three week interval between treatments enables your body to absorb the particles of pigment.
After the procedure is done the doctor will put antibacterial ointment on the area and cover it to keep it clean. To avoid infection it’s vital that you keep the area clean and sterile. The treated area may sometimes feel for a few days as though it has been sunburned. The treated area may temporarily remain red but after a few weeks it will return to normal skin colour.
It’s much cheaper to be tattooed than to have one removed. The cost of laser tattoo removal can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. The number of treatments needed and their cost will depend upon the size and nature of the tattoo to be removed. Usually tattoo removal is considered a cosmetic procedure and most medical insurance companies won’t pay for this type of treatment. Because this treatment is a medical procedure it must be carried out by a professional specifically trained in such techniques.
Before laser treatments were available, the removal of a tattoo was very painful. In the 1980s they used a method called dermabrasion which involved sanding down the skin. A person who wishes to dissociate himself from a past gang life can find doctors who will remove the offending tattoo for free.
The easiest way to avoid having to consider laser tattoo removal is to think carefully before you decide to get a tattoo. If you do have a tattoo that for whatever reason, you need to have removed, it is not the end of the world. Advances in laser technology have made available specific techniques for specific types of ink. Just remember that if you are considering this procedure that you consult with a qualified doctor at an established and reputable laser clinic who specialises in laser tattoo removal.