Tattoo removal is becoming a popular procedure nowadays, and for good reason. Tattoos have grown in popularity in the past years, with an estimated 1 in 5 adults having at least one tattoo. That number increases among younger adults. Consequently, the number of individuals who regret their tattoos has also increased, with 1 in 7 tattooed adults expressing regret.

Fortunately for those with tattoo regrets, the technology for removing tattoos is constantly improving. A tattoo doesn’t have to be forever anymore. This article will explore the most effective method for removing tattoos, pros and cons, how to pursue tattoo removal and make it more effective, and precautions you should take before starting your tattoo-removal journey.

man with tattoo removal machine

How Does Tattoo Removal Work?

Those who regret their tattoos have multiple options for getting rid of the unwanted tattoo. Some prefer to just cover it with a newer, more tasteful piece of artwork. This is perhaps the least painful and least expensive option. Others, however, prefer to have the tattoo removed completely.

For complete tattoo removal, most individuals choose one of three surgeries: dermabrasion, surgical excision, and laser tattoo removal. Dermabrasion is typically the cheapest option and essentially involves sanding off the tattoo. Surgical excision is the most suited for smaller tattoos, but it is the most invasive. The gold standard of tattoo removal, however, is laser surgery. Laser tattoo removal is the most effective at completely removing even large tattoos and is the least invasive surgical option. Consequently, it carries the lowest risk of scarring and other unpleasant side effects.

Laser tattoo removal requires multiple treatments depending on the size of the tattoo. During treatment, the surgeon uses a high-intensity laser which breaks down the pigments in the tattoo. Treatments are typically spaced at least seven weeks apart to allow for healing between sessions in order to minimize the risk of scarring. Pricing depends on tattoo size and the type of pigments used. Darker inks, for example, are easier to treat than pastels.

person having a tattoo removed

Pros and Cons of Tattoo Removal

There’s a reason that laser removal is considered to be the gold standard of all tattoo-removal procedures. What are some of the benefits of choosing laser treatment to remove your unwanted tattoo?

Pros of Tattoo Removal:

  • Most effective: Laser treatment is considered to be the most effective at completely removing tattoos. By choosing this option, you have the greatest likelihood of living your life without the slightest trace of your regretted tattoo.
  • Least invasive: Since there is no actual cutting into the skin, laser removal carries the least risk of infection and scarring.
  • Outpatient procedure: This treatment can be done on an outpatient basis, meaning it takes less time from your schedule.

Despite all the pros, every procedure carries its pitfalls. What are the possible risks of this treatment option?

Cons of Tattoo Removal:

  • Expensive: Perhaps because it is so effective at removing tattoos, laser treatment can range from costing hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the tattoo.
  • Time-intensive: This treatment requires multiple sessions.
  • Pain: Many patients describe this procedure as being more painful than getting the tattoo in the first place.
  • Some risk: There is always the chance that the treatment won’t be 100% effective or that it will cause an infection or scarring.

Tips on How to Pursue Tattoo Removal

laser tattoo removal

You may now be wondering how you can start your own tattoo-removal journey. You can start by trying to get in touch with others who have gone through laser tattoo removal. They can tell you their experiences and you will better be able to make an informed decision on if the treatment is worth the cost for you or not. If you don’t know anyone personally who has had a tattoo removed, reach out online. Once you have decided that the procedure is right for you, you can start researching laser removal clinics in your area.

Another aspect you might want to consider asking your surgeon about is pain relief. If you are concerned about the pain, many clinics offer anesthetic creams or local anesthesia to help manage pain during the procedure. You can also take acetaminophen before the procedure, but avoid NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Making Tattoo Removal More Efficient

After your treatment, you can take steps to make sure that the surgery is more effective and minimize your risk of scarring and infection. The most important step you can take is to keep the wound clean. You can apply antibiotic ointments and gently wash the area, but avoid scrubbing as this can irritate the delicate skin.

The skin will be more sensitive post-treatment, so you will also want to keep the area covered with a light dressing or bandage in order to avoid sun damage. If you are still in pain after the procedure, an ice pack is also safe.

Precautions to Remember before Trying Tattoo Removal

There are a number of precautions you should take before your first laser treatment session. First, the most important thing to remember is that laser tattoo removal is a surgical procedure. As such, it is important to do your research and find a qualified medical professional to perform the treatment. Once you have found someone, your surgeon should have a consultation with you beforehand. You will discuss why you want your tattoo removed and your medical history to see if you are a good candidate for the procedure.

This is also your time to ask questions. Ask how many procedures the surgeon has performed and the patient satisfaction rate, including before and after photos. You can also bring up any questions or insecurities you have about the treatment. Consider writing your questions down beforehand and bringing them to your consultation so that you don’t forget anything.

There are many different options available to those who regret their tattoos, and removal by laser is by far considered the safest and most effective. Though more expensive and at times painful, you can minimize the risks by doing your research and taking care of your skin before and after the procedure. That regretful tattoo doesn’t have to be for life anymore.