There are numerous ways to try to remove a tattoo, some far superior than others. On the net you can even find do-it-yourself instructions for removing tattoos at home. Salabrasion is the process of using moistened salt (plain old table salt will do) to scrub the tattoo. The area is scrubbed for 30 to 40 minutes at a time. The excessive scrubbing will turn the skin a dark red. Infection is a possibility so a topical antibiotic needs to be applied and the raw skin should be protected by a gauze bandage. This treatment is cheap, but scrubbing with salt can lead to scarring and it will leave behind any tattoo pigmentation lodged in the deeper layers of the skin. The redness can takes months to fade. Some of the before and after images that can be found on the internet, show substantial scarring.
Tattoos are an incredibly popular form of personal decoration, especially for younger generations. With so many people getting tattoos, it stands to reason that removing them has become almost as popular as getting them. Many companies have jumped on the bandwagon with fade creams. Fade creams have a very mixed reputation. Some people think they are nothing but a form of snake oil. These tattoo fade cream systems can be costly and it can take months to see any fading at all. Some of these creams contain the same ingredients found in beauty creams meant to whiten and brighten the complexion. These chemical agents are unproven when it comes to tattoo removal and the results can be quite poor. Then there are creams with harsher active ingredients. Some of these creams contain a chemical exfoliant, which can cause burns and scars.
Another means to removing tattoos is dermabrasion. Basically, with dermabrasion the skin is sanded using a special machine. This “sanding” process will basically abrade the top and middle layers of the epidermis. A more drastic solution is surgical excision. If the area to be excised is a small one then once the tattooed area is cut away stitches are used to join the skin together. For larger tattoos, some surgeons remove the tattoo in stages, allowing the skin to heal between surgeries. If a larger tattoo is removed all at once then a skin graft may be needed to replace the patch of skin removed. Surgical removal of the tattooed skin, if done successfully, should completely remove the tattoo, but it is an invasive procedure that may leave you with scars from the stitches and/or the skin graft.
Most experts agree that laser removal is the best choice for tattoo removal. The laser removal process uses short pulse bursts of intense light. These short bursts of the laser’s light will target the ink pigment. The ink pigment is broken into minute particles and the immune system takes care of the rest. It may take several sessions, but the results can’t be beat by any other method on the market. Another reason to opt for laser removal--it doesn’t target the natural pigment in your skin. Other methods, can leave you with blotches of lighter or darker skin. At our center in Hawaii, we have the PicoSure, the newest and most impressive laser workstation available. The Picosure can even target the blue and green inks, the most stubborn of ink colors.
1585 Kapiolani Blvd. Suite 1740
Honolulu, HI 96814