A tattoo is meant to be permanent. Unfortunately, what a person might want today may not be what he or she wants two or twenty years from now. Both the procedure of and cost of getting a tattoo are relatively minor in comparison to having it removed at a later date. It may be wise to consider these facts before visiting your local tattoo artist with design and cash in hand.
Two of the most commonly used methods for getting rid of an unwanted tattoo are also two of the most unsatisfactory. The first method involves removing a piece of skin from a less-noticeable part of your body, and grafting it on top of the tattoo. This odd form of "plastic surgery" covers up the tattoo, but generally leaves scar tissue, as the skin is not in its normal state. Another popular method is to simply go to a tattoo artist and have another design tattooed on top of the unwanted one. With this method, the black outline from the original tattoo will be noticeable through the new one; the larger the original, and the more black ink it has, the more difficult it will be to cover it.
A surgical method which is equally if not more unsatisfactory is called dermabrasion. In layman's terms, you can think of it as going at your skin with sandpaper. Even when this method is performed by a licensed physician, you will likely decide that the resulting scar is worse than the original tattoo. The reason for the scarring is that removing a tattoo by this method means going through the tattoo and the underlying skin. The scarring left by this method will leave that portion of your skin a much lighter color and a different texture than the surrounding skin. Of all tattoo removal methods currently in practice, dermabrasion is the method which will leave the most noticeable scarring.
Excision rarely presents a satisfactory alternative, either. As its name implies, the excision method of tattoo removal consists of having the tattoo surgically cut out of the skin, and the surrounding skin then sewed back together. The scar may not be as noticeable as one from the dermabrasion method, but the rather gruesome excision procedure itself more than makes up the difference in terms of a procedure which you will probably not like going through.
A variety of creams are sold for tattoo removal. Tattoo artists state that they are a waste of money and time, as they do not work. Whatever new concoction is sold under the guise of being a sure method of getting rid of a tattoo, a potential customer should keep in mind that since the tattoo is not simply on the top of the skin but deep into its layers, over-the-counter creams sold for this purpose will do little if any good. The chemical peel method which uses trichloroacetic acid produces some degree of results, as it actually removes the layers of the skin.
Currently, the use of lasers is one of the most common methods of tattoo removal. It is not as simple as it may sound, however. First, depending on size and details of the artwork, removal by laser can take up to ten sessions in order to achieve a degree of results. One source states that each session can cost between $250-$850 per session. It has been said that the laser removal method can be quite painful.
The most recent tattoo removal method is Intense Pulsated Light Therapy. Although it is considered to be less painful, and produces better results than removal by laser, it is also much more expensive.
The most common sense way of looking at the subject is that if you're planning to get a tattoo, you should plan on keeping it. None of the methods currently available for tattoo removal are guaranteed to produce satisfactory results, and those that show any amount of success in the final results are quite expensive.
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