Tattoo Removal FAQ

Why Do People Want to Remove Tattoos?

Tattoos are rather like a rite of passage for many young people. However, with age and maturity, “cool” tattoos or multiple tattoos may become liabilities in certain jobs. Tastes change as well, and what seemed just right at 18 doesn’t look or feel right at 28 or 35. When the tattoo includes the name of a former girlfriend or boyfriend, it can make a new relationship awkward. Luckily, most tattoos can be removed with laser treatments.

What’s the Procedure Like?

Laser tattoo removals are office-based procedures. After the administration of medication to numb the skin, the doctor or nurse will use a hand-held wand or laser device, passed slowly over the skin. Patients may need to wear protective eye shields, especially for tattoos of the neck or face. An ice pack is applied immediately after the treatment. Patients receive a prescription for an antibiotic cream or ointment to prevent infections, and the skin will usually blister and peel like a bad sunburn. Multiple treatments may be necessary to remove some tattoos.

Does Tattoo Removal Hurt?

Most patients feel a little sting from the injection of local anesthetic. The laser procedure can cause a burning or pinching sensation in some patients. Depending on the laser used, the technology may be more or less likely to cause these sensations. A shorter treatment is less likely to cause discomfort, as is technology that doesn’t produce heat. Some people also have a stronger reaction to laser treatment than others.

How Many Treatments Will It Take?

It’s hard to predict treatment time in advance, due to the number of variables involved. For example, a professionally applied tattoo is likely to penetrate the skin to uniform levels and can be easier to remove than an at-home job. Ink color, tattoo size and the age of the tattoo also make a difference. Skin color can also be a factor, as dark skin tends to absorb laser beams and makes the removal more difficult.

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