Getting a Tattoo Removed
You wouldn't be the first and you certainly won't be the last person to decide that perhaps a tattoo which was hastily done in your youth is now surplus to requirements.
It's possible to remove an unwanted tattoo, although some methods are more successful than others. A lot will depend on how big your tattoo is and where it is situated, as well as how it was done and the type of pigment that was used.
Who Can Remove a Tattoo?The first thing to try is a visit to your GP to find out if you are eligible to have your tattoo removed on the NHS. It's unlikely that they will fund you, but some Health Authorities will make an exception in some cases. At the very least your doctor can give you some advice about what method is best for you, and you can ask him for a referral to a reputable cosmetic surgeon who could do the work.
You might see cheap tattoo removal advertised in the newspapers - it's never a good idea to go for the budget option for any cosmetic procedure. Find someone who is registered with the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) or the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons (BACS) and at least you'll know that you are in good hands. Ask questions - ask what options are available, find out the success rates for the different options, and find out how long the surgeon has been carrying out the procedure.The methods used to remove tattoos vary, some are favoured by different experts and some depend on the type of tattoo you want to get rid of.
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What Are The Main Methods?Tattoos are usually removed in one of the following ways:
- Laser treatment Pulses of laser light are sent into the tattoos, using different intensities for different coloured pigments. The light passes through the top layer of the skin, and is then absorbed by pigment particles in the tattoo.
The particles heat up and break into smaller pieces which are eliminated through the immune system. Laser treatment is easy and effective, and there is very little risk involved. It's possible that there could be some scarring or pigmentation afterwards, or occasionally the pigment can react with the laser, which results in a darker colour in the skin.
Laser treatment only takes a few minutes but it can take a few treatments to complete, and it can cause some discomfort. Complete removal is unlikely, and the treatments can cost you hundreds of pounds.
- Dermabrasion This is where the skin is chemically treated to break up tissue and then the top layers of the skin, which contain the tattoo pigment, are rubbed away mechanically. This can sometimes lead to scarring, though.
- Vaporisation A carbon dioxide laser is used to remove the tattoo - and this can also lead to some scarring.
How Long Will it Take?Removing tattoos usually takes place under local anaesthetic and with some sedation. It can often take several treatments to get the tattoo as light as you want it to be, and unless it's physically cut out, you can often see a faint residual image.
Tattoo Removal Creams
Don't waste your money on a cream that claims to remove your tattoos. Medical experts have dismissed the claims that an expensive cream can dissolve away a tattoo, and the Tattoo Club of Great Britain agrees.
Unfortunately, it's sad fact of life that a tattoo of your lover's name can last longer than the love itself, so you need to consider your options carefully before you set foot in a tattoo parlour!