You should never attempt to remove a tattoo yourself. The tattoo’s pigments are located too deeply within the skin. Any home removal attempt would put you at great risk for serious infection and permanent scarring. There are a number of “products” and alternative removal methods out there and we discuss several below. It is important to note that laser treatment is the gold standard for removing tattoos and prior to attempting any removal you should consult a physician familiar with tattoo removal.
Tattoo Removal Creams
None of the tattoo removal creams offered widely online have been shown to be either safe or effective. They usually contain some kind of bleaching agent. But because tattoo pigments are embedded in a deep layer of the skin, bleaching has little if any effect on a tattoo’s appearance.Tattoo removal creams often have irritants and caustic ingredients that can burn the skin. Although some of these creams can remove the tattoo, I have not seen any that do it effectively without a very significant risk of scarring.Some tattoo removal creams don’t list any of their ingredients, so it’s impossible to know whether the product contains toxic materials. No tattoo removal cream has FDA approval.
Tattoos are sometimes removed by dermabrasion, a procedure that uses a specially designed high-speed abrasive instrument to “sand” the top layers of the skin and remove the tattoo pigment. The treated area is then medically dressed in a way to help raise and absorb the tattoo inks. The procedure can take from a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. Several treatment sessions are usually required. When a salt-like substance is used as the abrasive agent, the procedure is known as salabrasion. These procedures almost always results in a visible scar.
Saline Injections In some cases, injecting a saline solution into a tattoo can help break up the pigment, causing the tattoo to fade. Saline injections are sometimes used before another procedure, such as dermabrasion, to enhance the final results.
In this procedure, a surgeon uses a scalpel to cut away the tattooed area. The wound is then stitched closed. This procedure also usually results in a visible scar. When used to remove a large tattoo, skin grafting may also be done. This involves removing skin from another, less conspicuous site on the body and transplanting it to the area where the tattoo has been removed.