Tattoos have made the move to the mainstream and are often seen adorning the bodies of celebrities and sports stars. Both men and women have increasingly turned to body art which reflects, or projects, their personality. But that cool tattoo that seemed such a good idea when you were 18 may now be an annoying reminder of youthful indiscretion, or may even be preventing you getting where you want to in life, particularly if it is on an area of the body which is visible. Whatever the reason, the good news is that there are effective techniques for reducing or even removing the appearance of tattoos.
Tattoos are easy to have done but difficult, time consuming and expensive to remove. They are created by ink drops placed under the skin by a needle. They can be artistic and beautiful but they are also permanent. Or at least they were. Today, laser treatments are most often used to remove tattoos and other pigmented or discolored skin. The laser’s light passes through the skin and is absorbed by the ink, causing it to break into smaller pieces. The body’s natural filtering system absorbs the small pieces of ink. Certain colors react better to this process than others and bright green, yellow and red inks are most difficult to remove.
While the procedure is not actually painful, there may be a stinging sensation as the laser penetrates the skin and does its work on the ink beneath. This is sometimes described as feeling similar to hot specks of oil from a frying pan hitting the skin. The treatment is usually performed without anaesthesia, although local anaesthesia may be used if required. After a session, the skin over the treated area may appear to have a light abrasion. To prevent discomfort an ointment and a light dressing are applied to the affected area after treatment.
The removal cannot be achieved in one sitting and multiple treatments are usually needed over a period of months, with each session lasting from five to 15 minutes, depending on the size and color of the tattoo. Fading of the tattoo is commonly the best result that can be accomplished and the tattoo should be largely unnoticeable, except in bright sunlight when the skin that has been treated may look paler than the surrounding skin. Sometimes however the tattoo will almost completely disappear.