Laser Tattoo Removal: What You Need to Know

 Laser Tattoo Removal: What You Need to Know

The appeal of a tattoo can fade, but the ink rarely does without a little help from your dermatologist. If your tattoo doesn’t match who you are anymore, removal is an effective way to feel comfortable in your skin once again.

How Does Tattoo Removal Work?

People change, but tattoos are made to last. Thankfully, dermatologists offer an effective and increasingly easy procedure to remove your unwanted tattoos. These days, dermatologists mostly employ laser therapy to remove tattoos. Laser technology is used to treat countless skin conditions and for other cosmetic applications such as the removal of acne scarring.

Laser tattoo removal employs intense pulses of light that break down the ink into small particles. These smaller particles are then absorbed by the body’s lymphatic system and filtered away. After a session, the tattoo will begin to fade. In almost every case, multiple sessions of laser tattoo removal will be necessary. The number of treatments needed will depend on the type of ink and its colors, the depth of the ink in your skin, the age of the tattoo, and a number of health factors that your dermatologist is trained to consider.

Why Lasers? Why Not...?

If you look up tattoo removal, there are a number of methods and products out there that promise quick and easy results.

Many health spas and tattoo parlors actually offer tattoo removal services, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend seeing a dermatologist for tattoo removal. Given the nature of laser tattoo removal, it should be performed by a skilled and qualified dermatologist. Tattoo artists and other business may offer tattoo removal services, but it’s recommended that you visit a certified dermatologist. The reason is simple: your dermatologist is invested in you, your skin, and its health. Others might only be interested in removing or covering tattoos with other ink, or in using outdated procedures that cut corners and cause side effects and permanent skin damage.

At-home kits for tattoo removal are advertised as a simple way to remove old tattoos. Chemicals and DIY methods to remove tattoos are inefficient. The FDA has not approved any at-home tattoo removal creams or ointments. Ointments and creams have never been proven to fade or remove tattoos. Additionally, these ointments often contain strong acids that can cause skin damage and other health problems.

Others online suggest a treatment called salabrasion, which involves rubbing salt onto the tattoo in order to remove the inky layers of skin. Besides never being clinically tested, salabrasion can lead to serious skin infections and extreme skin irritation. Scarring has been linked to the practice as well, since salabrasion calls for a very harsh and vigorous routine.

How to Prepare for Laser Tattoo Removal

Once your laser tattoo removal treatment is scheduled and planned, there are some things you can do to prepare for the treatment and to improve your results. Your dermatologist will recommend that you do not use any skincare products (even makeup) on the treatment area before your laser therapy. Protect the area of the tattoo from exposure to sunlight either by wearing clothes with a high UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating or by regularly applying sunscreen. Once you have had your first laser tattoo removal session, continue to protect the treated skin from sunlight. Be sure to limit sun exposure for three months after your final procedure.

While it should go without saying, it’s imperative that you keep all of your appointments to maximize the results of your treatment. Once home from a session, you may need to wash and treat your skin frequently with antibiotics to prevent infection. Keep your treated skin moisturized and covered.

If your tattoo no longer represents who you are, covering your tattoos with long sleeves or other ink isn’t the solution. Reach out to your New England dermatologist today to discuss laser tattoo removal.

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