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Tattoo Removal

How to Remove Tattoos

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The removal method for a tattoo depends on several factors.

The removal method for a tattoo depends on the pigments used for the tattoo, its size and its location. For example, the excision method would not be employed on an extensive tattooed area like this.

Sydney Parkinson, 1745-1771
Tattoos are meant to be permanent, so as you might imagine, they aren't that easy to remove. Generally speaking, tattoo removal involves destruction or decolorization of the tattoo ink or else removal of the skin that contains the tattoo. A surgeon usually performs one of the following procedures on an out-patient basis:
  • Laser Surgery - This is the most common procedure because it is bloodless and produces few side effects. Laser light is used to break up or decolorize the pigment molecules. The color of the laser light depends, to some extent, on the color of the tattoo. Multiple treatments may be required. Effectiveness depends on several factors, including the chemical nature of the tattoo ink.

  • Dermabrasion - The doctor abrades or sands away the top layers of the skin to expose the tattoo and remove the ink. Some discoloration or scarring may result. Incomplete tattoo removal may result if the tattoos were inked deeply into the skin.

  • Surgical Excision - The doctor essentially cuts out the portion of tattooed skin and stitches the skin back together. This treatment is appropriate for small tattoos. A raised scar may result at the site of the stitches.

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