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Removing Your Tattoo 
 
by LEXA W LEE July 28, 2005

If you have one or more tattoos, you probably already know that removing them is not an easy process. If you regret ever getting that tattoo, you should know there are a number of ways that can be accomplished. The science of tattoo removal has progressed significantly in recent years. Note that the price usually depends on the size of the tattoo and the technology involved.

Contraindications to Tattoo Removal

  • Tendency to form keloids, other scars, skin hypertrophy
  • Tendency for hyper or hypopigmentation
  • Lesions in the affected area
  • Warts
  • Active acne
  • Active rosacea
  • Unstable/uncontrolled diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases (like lupus, scleroderma)
  • Pregnancy

Methods of Removal

Fade away creams/rubs - a series of creams are used, causing a breakdown in the tattoo ink. The tattoo then becomes lighter and fades away in time. 

  • Newest method
  • Gradual process
  • Cheapest method; creams start at under $100
  • Least painful method
  • No scarring or irreversible skin damage

Dermabrasion - a small sanding instrument removes the top middle layers of the skin, which contain the ink. Sometimes the area is frozen before dermabrasion, resulting in less bleeding.

  • Performed under local anesthetic (oral, injection, or IV)
  • Bleeding is likely
  • Cost depends on size of area

Excision - Tattoo is cut from skin and the surrounding skin is sewn together.

  • A scar is left, so only a small area is cut at one time
  • A larger tattoo may require several excisions and a skin graft

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