Tattoos have become part of American mainstream culture over the past couple of decades. Some estimate that more than ten million Americans have at least one tattoo and there are about 4,000 tattoo studios now in business in the United States.
A lot of people love their tattoos and keep them forever. However, there are others who decide a couple of years down the road that they really don't like that rose on their ankle. Or maybe you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and no longer want his or her initials on your stomach. How do you remove the tattoo?
One busy physician who specializes in tattoo removal estimates that about 50 percent of those who get tattoos later regret them. For years, these people had little recourse and existing removal techniques were invasive (requiring surgery) and painful. But that's changing.
Today, one common method is laser removal. Some tattoo shops also offer tattoo removal but it's a better idea to make sure the person doing the removal is a medical doctor. Before you go just anywhere to get your tattoo removed, check with your doctor or contact the American Dermatological Association to find a reputable laser removal specialist in your area.
Although it's called tattoo removal, completely removing a tattoo can be difficult depending on how old the tattoo is, how big the tattoo is and the type/color of inks used. Removal of the entire tattoo is not always guaranteed. It's best to consult with a dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal to get your questions answered (such as whether anesthesia is used.) The dermatologist can also give you a good idea of how much (if not all) of the tattoo can be removed.
Tattoo removal can be pretty expensive. Depending on factors like the size and design of the tattoo, removal can cost significantly more than the actual tattoo.
Laser tattoo removal usually requires a number of visits with each procedure lasting only a few minutes. Anesthesia may or may not be used. What happens is the laser sends short zaps of light through the top layers of your skin with the laser's energy aimed at specific pigments in the tattoo.