Have you been hiding a tattoo? Clothing, make-up and excuses will only work for so long, because eventually you’ll find yourself in a situation where you can’t hide it anymore, and if you’ve got a tattoo you want gone then permanent tattoo removal is your next step. But it can be a scary step if you don’t know what to expect. Asking the right questions is a good start in finding out what you need to know. So which questions should you ask?
Which tattoo removal procedure is the right one?
Do-it-yourself tattoo removal creams and ointments are dicey. The FDA hasn’t tested or recommended any, and side-effects like rashes, changes in skin color and scarring can occur. In the past, the only professional options included procedures like surgical excision (cutting it out of the skin) or dermabrasion (“sanding” off the outer layers of skin). Both of these methods can result in scarring. Today you have the additional option of laser tattoo removal.
How often will I need to receive treatment to remove my tattoo?
Surgical excision can usually be done in one session, while dermabrasion and laser tattoo removal may take multiple sessions. Lasers emit light in short bursts that break the tattoo pigment down into smaller particles that are excreted or metabolized by the body. But the various colors of ink absorb different wavelengths of light, so multi-colored tattoos may need multiple lasers to treat them effectively. Dark ink is easier to remove than light ink (like green, red and yellow), and a typical tattoo removal can take six to ten sessions. Technological improvements like the R20 laswer may need even less!
How far apart are the treatments?
Even though you may only need one session to have a tattoo removed using surgical excision, you will probably need multiple doctor visits and timing will vary. Dermabrasion recovery time is usually several weeks. Laser tattoo removal requires healing time between sessions too, so you may need to schedule a treatment every few weeks until the tattoo is gone.
What is the estimated cost of the procedure?
Tattoo removal is considered to be a cosmetic procedure so medical insurance generally won’t pay for it. The size, type, location and age of the tattoo can all factor into the cost, which can run from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, but choosing a reliable professional will probably cost you less in the long run. Look for a board certified physician who does not cut corners.
Does tattoo removal hurt?
The cost of surgical excision will include anesthesia and there can be some post-operative pain. Dermabrasion can leave the skin feeling wind-burned, and a numbing agent or anesthesia is used during the procedure. Laser tattoo removal can feel like a rubber band snap, but a numbing agent may also be used during the procedure if desired. And because it’s the least invasive of the three methods mentioned, recovery is usually quicker.
These are some of the questions that the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) suggests you ask in their “Tattoo Removal Questionnaire”, which can be found in the article entitled “Unwanted Tattoos.” You can download this questionnaire and take it with you to your appointment, and you can find out more about tattoo removal on the ASDS site.
For more about tattoo removal you can also contact us.