Skin ink has increased in popularity among young people, but as some persons age and take on new responsibilities, many individuals want to remove visible tattoos that may indicate a youthful indiscretion to a potential mate or employer.
According to IBISWorld, tattoo removal in the United States has grown in the past five years by an average rate of 20.9% annually. In 2012, the market is forecast to reach $65.6 million, predominantly driven by regret and unemployment.
Removal was once limited to surgery. Then, dermabrasion was increasingly used by physicians. These were painful, invasive methods that left scarring.
Despite the evolution of removal methods, the process is neither inexpensive, nor fast and easy. Here’s how each process generally works and what to expect.
With surgery, the tattoo is actually cut from the skin. Scarring is inevitable after the site heals. Despite the availability of new technologies, surgery remains the only option for those tattoos in which the ink that has penetrated into the layer of subcutaneous fat.
Dermabrasion methods actually scour the skin with salt, moving brushes, or chemicals. This removal method can also leave scars.
Lasers first became widely used for tattoo removal in the 1990s. This method permits people to safely erase their tattoos, often without noticeable scarring, by breaking down the ink so that it can be absorbed by the body, then eliminated.
To be effective, time is needed between treatments for the tattoo to fade. Between three and six treatments are typically needed; however, for those professionally inked or with larger designs, the process can be lengthy.
Dr. Philip Bailin, a surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic’s Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute who specializes in tattoo removal, says that even laser removal can be painful. The sensation of the laser is akin, he says, to being repeatedly flicked with a rubber band. Some of his patients have said the process is actually more painful than being tattooed.
Different types of lasers or different wavelengths of light might be needed to remove specific ink colors. Black, by contrast, is an easily removed color because it contains all the colors in the spectrum.
Laser removal is not without possible complications. These may include changes in skin pigmentation, infection, and permanent scarring.
Experts advise a little thought before getting a tattoo can prove helpful, starting by getting a discreet tattoo that can be easily hidden. Avoid tattoos containing a name or words. The exception to the rule might be “Mom.” Smaller designs are easier to remove.
Even celebrities have not been immune to the allure of ink. Mark Wahlberg (Four Brothers, Rock Star) is the latest in a growing list of entertainers to start removing tattoos. He described the process during an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman in early January 2012. To date, he claims more than 30 procedures have not yet entirely erased a Sylvester the Cat image from his leg.
Also, in some states and jurisdictions, only medical doctors are permitted to use lasers for tattoo removal. Organizations including the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery offer consumer information, including a checklist of questions to ask prior to any procedure.
This post was written by a guest contributor. About the Author:
Linda Dailey Paulson is a professional blogger for Sunray Laser. Sunray strives to be a best of breed new and used cosmetic laser equipment company, serving the medical industry with refurbished lasers at a significant discount over retail costs. You can learn more at http://www.sunraylaser.com.