Want To Get That Tattoo Removed?

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.

Surgical Method

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:

? Dermabrasion

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.

? Salabrasion

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.

Do you want your tattoo removed, the laser way

Laser tattoo removal works on the principle of selective thermolysis where the targeted tattoo is exposed to the energy delivered by laser. This energy exposure results in selective destruction of the foreign pigment while ensuring minimum damage to the surrounding skin.

Lasers can be applied to remove all sorts of tattoos be it professional, amateur, cosmetic, medicinal, and traumatic tattoos. The different colors present in the tattoos may respond differently to laser tattoo removal, but they do get removed to quite some extent. Thus laser tattoo removal presents itself as a non-invasive and effective treatment for unwanted tattoos.

The right candidate

Anyone with a need to remove an undesired tattoo can opt for laser tattoo removal. It is not the person’s physical characteristics which decide the extent of removal but the colors used. Though most tattoo colors can be eliminated or lightened more or less, skin colored tattoos may undergo irreversible ink darkening. This may be the case with white, pink, flesh-toned and light brown tattoo inks. Also red ink tattoos may turn black. In these situations do ask or say yes to a test dose.

Some Facts

Although, laser tattoo removal for sure is the best solution to the unwanted tattoo woes; it has got its warts which need to be kept in mind. Some of them are:

1. Since results are color dependent total elimination is not possible, however you can be sure of dramatic lightening. Amateur black tattoos respond more quickly than professional and multicolored tattoos.
2. To get maximum benefit multiple sessions are usually required.
3. Doubly treated tattoos may require additional treatments.
4. If the tattoo is multicolored, it would require exposure to lasers of several different wavelengths because of the selective absorption characteristics of a particular color.

Types of lasers used

Q-switched Ruby Laser (QSRL)

It is a red colored laser which works best for dark blue and black inks. With tattoos in these colors, results have been exceptional. So far as red and yellow color is concerned results have been less than satisfactory. The response of green tattoos is variable. The QSRL is also effective in treating medicinal and traumatic tattoos.

Q-switched Nd:YAG

This laser works both for amateur and professional tattoos of all colors. But best results have been observed in case of black tattoos, as is the case with the ruby laser. Moreover this laser works quite well for darker skinned individuals. Also unlike QSRL, which is ineffective in case of red and yellow color, Q-switched Nd:YAG is highly effective for these colors in frequency doubled setting (532 nm).

Q-switched Alexandrite Laser

This laser is quite like QSRL in treating tattoos especially when treating green tattoos. However up to 50% of patients can experience textural changes in their skin after treatment.

Flashlamp-pumped Pulsed Dye Laser

This laser does not penetrate deep into skin because of its wavelength which is 510 nm. Hence it is not so useful when it comes to deeper tattoos. However, it is effective for the treatment of brightly colored tattoos such as those that use red, purple, and orange inks. The major side effect of this laser is bruising.

Post-procedural Care

After the procedure some swelling and blistering is commonplace, so is crusting. So don’t panic they will go by themselves after some time. Do take good care of the wound to aid the healing process and to prevent infection.
To ensure fast and safe healing, make use of prescribed antibiotic ointment with regular dressing changes. If you feel the need of alleviating any resultant pain, consult the physician to recommend you some pain killer. Also avoid exposure to sun to prevent tanning.


Laser tattoo removal has brought an effective, less painful solution to people who want to get their tattoos removed or faded.

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