It was a great idea at the time, but now you want that tattoo off your body. Maybe you’re just sick of looking at it, or the image shifted, the colors blurred, or you want to erase that sweetheart who is no longer a sweetheart. Whatever the reason, today’s dermis-dyed denizens no longer need to be permanently inked.
According to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the number of people undergoing laser tattoo removal increased 43% from 2011 to 2012, while the results of a British survey released in July of 2012 concluded that nearly one-third of tattooees suffer from “tattoo regret.”
An April 2013 CNN post on the subject reported: Johnny Depp committed the most common tattoo faux pas: he inked then-girlfriend Winona Ryder’s name on his shoulder. A short time later they broke up, prompting Depp to morph “Winona Forever” into “Wino Forever.”
Here’s the deal: Tattoos are meant to be permanent, which is why they’re so difficult to remove in the first place. Even state-of-the-art removal methods don’t work on everyone; success varies based on skin color, the pigments used in the tattoo, and its size. Regardless of what method you choose, odds are you will have some scarring.
Today, the best method for removing tattoos is by using a “Q-switched” laser. The light beam searches for contrast between skin tone and ink and pulses intensely on the skin to break the ink down into particles small enough for the body to absorb. Pretty cool! It’s also expensive, and despite its success, it’s not foolproof. Before Q-Lasers, tattoos were removed surgically by cutting out the tattooed area and sewing the surrounding skin back together. It’s still used for some cases, but works best only on very small tats.
Another removal technique is peeling the skin with TCA (trichloroacetic acid), followed by the use of Hydroquinone, a skin bleaching agent. It’s effective, but in additional to scar tissue, there can be nasty side effects from these chemicals.
Dermabrasion is the process of “sanding down” the tattooed skin using a mixture of sanding powder, aloe vera gel, and a pumice stone. Dermabrasion can be very effective, but it’s also painful, and must be done twice a day for at least three to four weeks.
The most cost-effective and painless remedies are tattoo removal creams. Some work better than others, while some don’t work at all. The best creams, like Fadeplex and TAT-Med, don’t contain TCA or Hydroquinone. Instead, they use Chromabright, an active ingredient that has been proven to fade tattoos safely on all types of skin.
Ah, the wonders of modern science!