The reality you need to know about Tattoo Removal
Tattoo removal is now more popular than ever. Sometimes people change their minds about tattoos and want them removed, but it can be costly to remove a tattoo, so they have to make some tough decisions.
I have four regrettable tattoos from my teen and early twenties. I've always been apprehensive about getting them removed, but it's time to permanently part ways with these inks.
I'm not the only one who loves regretful ink on their skin; apparently, over 25% of people say they would get a tattoo that represents something different than what they currently stand for today if given the chance again.
Tattoos are a commitment, and like any relationship, it can take time before you realize that things have changed. For many people, the idea of covering up their tattoo with something new is unsettling; they feel as though there's an emotional connection to what was once etched in ink on their skin. But imagine how incredible it would be if we were able to erase our mistakes so easily?
If you've heard about laser tattoo removal, the odds are good that your perspective might not paint such a pretty picture: after all, while getting one seems fun (especially when drunk), its dark side may leave some somewhat scarred for life! To this point, "laser," or light-based technology, typically points the first finger at two traits most often complained about
I used to have a tattoo that I loved, but the thought of living with it for the rest of my life got me thinking. So off to Google, I went and found out what it would cost if you wanted your old ink removed from your skin. It turns out there are many different methods available based on the size and how deep down in the dermis layer they go, some more painful than others!
Consider going to a doctor or a tattoo removal specialist.
Does it sound like finding someone good at tattoo removal is more complicated than getting one? That makes sense considering most people don't know where to start when they're looking into a tattoo artist or even which type of artwork suits them best. But now that you found your remover—which is excellent news because time heals ALL wounds (hey there!)—let me share some more.
You'll never find a more reliable source for finding the best tattoo removal experts than from people who have had them successfully removed themselves.
It will take a long time—maybe even a year or more.
Tattoos don't just disappear after one laser session and can take an average of 2 1/2 years before being entirely removed. "A complete tattoo removal takes a minimum of 2 1/2 years on average," stated Bethany Cirlin, owner of Clean Canvvas More Art. Lasers are scheduled at three-month intervals, so your body has time between treatments for the most effective results possible!
I've had six sessions and will need about five more. The laser breaks down particles, which are then broken down by the immune system, so it can take a while to complete each session. It takes up to eight weeks to regenerate new pigment before your next visit, where you'll have even newer particles of what needs breaking apart!
The cost is high.
Having your procedures done by a doctor, the bill for each visit can run you hundreds of dollars. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates that an average session costs $463. This figure may be higher or lower depending on various factors.
The cost involved with having tattoos removed by an aesthetician varies based on size, color, and age but can also top out at nearly six hundred dollars apiece--and this doesn't include any added fees such as numbing cream or laser treatment!
Block out your schedule, so you have time for everything.
Laser tattoo removal can be quick and easy. But not all are. Mine takes 45 minutes because we do before photos of the area, clean it thoroughly with an antibiotic solution to kill any germs that may reside there due to touching your skin or picking at scabs on top of tattoos from old ones already removed. The laser will break up the ink particles so they can't be seen. I will then put some pads over the ink for about 15-20 minutes. This should protect against any infections when I remove them, which only takes 45 minutes and does not require anesthesia like other procedures that take a lot longer might.
The laser treatment has given me an unusual side effect. Sometimes when the lasers hit my skin, I taste metal in my mouth, and Cirlin says that it's normal for some people to experience this sensation because of how lidocaine reacts with the laser light.
All ink can be taken out. You can erase it.
The days of difficult-to-remove ink are over thanks to PicoSure technology. As a result, tattoos in any color can be made permanently gone with just one treatment.
There are a lot of colors in tattoos. Some colors will disappear after one session at Cirlin's office. That is because Cirlin uses a new laser technique called PicoSure that can remove yellows and greens more efficiently than other lasers could before it came along.
Start using sunscreen before your tattoo removal session.
Cirlin recommends using a zinc oxide sunscreen on any tattooed area exposed to the sun so laser treatments can more easily remove tattoos. Cirlin says, "Once you know you're unhappy with a tattoo and want it removed from your body, immediately start applying a zinc-based sunscreen because of how quickly skin pigment fades when exposed to UV rays."
During the tattoo removal session, it might hurt.
Cirlin's warning is straightforward: "pain can be completely individualized." Cirlin offers a topical numbing cream that helps take away some of the anticipation surrounding tattoo removal procedures in their office. "Just know that even with a numbing cream, though, your experience may not be pain-free," says Cirlin. "We also use a piece of equipment called a chiller that uses cold air to help keep our clients comfortable," she explains and continues telling me how it's definitely worth asking for some extra preparation ahead if you're worried about the pain.
After your tattoo removal procedure, you might feel some slight pain.
It would be best to plan for discomfort following laser tattoo removal, as it can last up to a week. For me, the site blisters and needs to be covered in salve before being bandaged; then, they start peeling off while healing!
Yet, there is good news for those looking for tattoo removal: the number of treatments you undergo will decrease the amount of aftercare needed. This is because each laser treatment removes ink that would have otherwise reacted with subsequent lasers. Hence, as time goes on, less and less material responds to being zapped by a laser beam while simultaneously getting closer and closer towards tattoo-less skin!
It would help if you planned for your tattoo aftercare before you get it.
For the first few days, it's essential to take care of your tattoo after starting your tattoo removal procedure. Use a gentle yet effective moisturizer like Aquaphor and avoid anything that will irritate the skin even more. For example, try not letting any bedding or clothing rest on your treated tattoo (you'll want to be especially careful with shirts).
When I first started, I was cutting tags out. But after a while of wearing tagless cotton tees and still having the spot hurt or itch on me, it seemed like keyhole backs would be worth my investment. If you have tattoos anywhere near your ribs (or any other body part) that can't handle bras or shoes very well, then plan accordingly when getting a tattoo removed.
Apply a thin coat of antibiotic ointment or healing moisturizer three times per day, like from Aquaphor or Kiehl's is crucial for the first three days following surgery. This will help prevent any skin irritation and promote proper healing during this time.
Some people might want to get a cover-up tattoo instead of getting their whole tattoo removed.
One method of removing tattoos that doesn't get talked about as much is semi-removal. Rather than completely taking your tattoo off, you can lighten it enough to cover up with good cover-up work. I have a friend who had her bird tattoo lightened up enough to add the design of a lit lightbulb over the top. It's brilliant because it meant that she could get her new ink done without having an in-your-face, heavy-handed tattoo on her arm for life!
Know that the process could be complicated and possibly leave scars.
For those of us who want to permanently remove any trace of ink, there is always a risk that the skin left behind might not be flawless after tattoo removal. While chances are significantly smaller when treated by professionals and people with medical experience, your skin pigment can still change color. This means it's even more critical than ever before to consult qualified doctors or specialists for treatment!