You and Jessica decided that, after six weeks of being together, you were soulmates, and got matching tattoos to prove it. Now, six months later, she’s off with someone else, but you still have her name on your arm.
She’s gotta go.
Whatever the reason you need to get a tattoo removed, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Before you start the process, read this article to make sure you are doing it right.
- Put Down the Cream
In recent years, tattoo removal cream has become a popular option for people who want to get rid of ink on their own. These creams promise to break down ink, removing it from the skin in a relatively short time.
Don’t believe it.
The whole point of a tattoo is that it is a permanent reminder of whatever reason you got it. That means the ink goes deep into the skin so it doesn’t easily rub off. At best, tattoo removal creams lighten the tattoo by removing ink in the top layer of the skin. At worst, they cause skin irritation and other problems. Bottom line: There’s no evidence that these creams actually work.
- Know the Side Effects
The other option — and the only really viable option — is laser tattoo removal. Though laser removal has a much higher success rate, it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people experience a “ghost tattoo” because their skin either produces an abundance of pigment in the area of the tattoo after removal. For people with darker skin, the laser may remove pigment along with the tattoo. In most cases, the skin corrects itself in six months to a year.
In rare instances, removal may even result in raised scarring.
There are other side effects possible as well, such as burning or blistering. Professional laser tattoo removal technicians or doctors can usually avoid these issues, but every person’s skin reacts differently to treatment.
- Be Ready for the Long Process
As ideal as it would be to get a tattoo removed in an hour, the truth is that this process takes time. Again, ink is designed to be in the skin forever, so removing it is an effort. In many cases, the removal process takes well over 10 sessions. But slowing the process can help avoid many of the common side effects.
There are a few factors that determine how quickly your tattoo can be removed.
First, who gave you the tat? A professional tattoo is more uniform, which makes treatment simpler. However, because the ink is usually deeper, it often takes more sessions for removal. Amateur tattoos are often more uneven, making it more difficult to remove, but can sometimes be done in fewer sessions. Second, the further from the heart the tattoo is, the more challenging the healing process is, since circulation is weaker. Ankle tattoos are especially challenging.
- Find the Right Doctor
A quick Google search will likely come up with dozens of different options for laser tattoo removal. You don’t want to just go with the first name on the list, however. The quality of work differs from doctor to doctor. Before you start the laser removal process, do some research.
After reading online reviews, call or visit the tattoo removal centers and ask a few questions.
Along with other questions, be sure to ask for before and after pictures of people with similar skin tones and tattoos as you. This will let you know whether that can properly handle your own ink. Second, ask what kind of lasers they have. A qualified laser tattoo removal doctor will have a variety of lasers at different wavelengths to make sure they can handle the pigment of the ink in your skin.
- Know that It’s Worth It
Laser tattoo removal is a long, sometimes uncomfortable process. In between sessions, you may experience swelling, rashes, pinpoint bleeding, temporary darkening, redness and other side effects. These may be worrisome (or even painful), but generally subside within a few weeks. You may think it’s better to just give up after a few sessions, especially if you aren’t seeing the results you thought you would.
Don’t give up.
If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about them. They can let you know exactly what you should expect, and if the side effects you’re experiencing are normal (hint: they probably are). It’ll take weeks of treatments to get the ink out, but by the end, it’ll be well worth not having that tattoo mar your body anymore.