Pop starlet Rihanna was recently in the news for getting her 16th tattoo (a falcon in the shape of a gun if you’re curious), but despite the long list of multi-inked celebrities, it’s getting rid of tattoos that’s gaining popularity. According to recent Patient’s Guide statistics, laser tattoo removal procedures climbed a whopping 32 percent from 2011 to 2012.
According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, one quarter of Americans between the age of 18 and 50 have body art, but we’re willing to bet more than a few of them regret the image (or series of images) currently staking claim on their skin. Luckily, lasers make removal of any regrettable body art decisions a breeze.
Lasers and Tattoo Removal
Since tattoos are meant to be permanent, it’s taken a lot of years to come up with a way to remove them that actually works. Physicians have tried many removal techniques in the past, but it’s lasers that have come out on top. “Laser tattoo removal is now considered the gold standard,” says Dr. Brian Zelickson, faculty member at the University Of Minnesota Medical School Department Of Dermatology. “Recent advances in laser technology have increased both the safety and effectiveness of this method of tattoo removal.”
Lasers use extremely intense pulses of light to break down the ink in the tattoo into tiny particles. Once the ink is broken down, the particles get absorbed into the body through the lymphatic system (the body’s natural filtering system), and the tattoo gradually fades. What does this mean for you? After a series of treatment sessions, that portrait of your ex-fiancé on your shoulder (that seemed like a good idea at the time) will finally be gone.
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How it Works
If you’re worried about lengthy sessions with a laser, don’t be. Physicians opt for lasers with very short pulse durations, which help keep skin free of scarring. To further protect the skin, treatments are usually done over several sessions. The number of sessions you need will depend on your tattoo. Every tattoo is different and they come in all shapes, sizes and colors, meaning some tattoos are easier to remove than others. Professional tattoos (one you get at a tattoo parlour) tend to take longer to remove than those done by amateurs (one you get at a party after one too many tequila shots).
The cost of tattoo removal depends on the complexity of the tattoo (is it a map of the wold that covers your entire upper back, or a rose on your ankle) and the number of laser treatments you need. Factors like the tattoo’s size, color, age, type, depth, and location on the body will also play a role in overall cost.
A consultation with your physician will help you get a better idea of how much you’ll need to spend, and most physicians have payment plans that can help you spread out the cost. But what it really comes down to is peace of mind. If you can’t stand the site of your tattoo, knowing it’s going to be gone is well worth the cost of removal.
What seemed like a nice piece of body art when you were 19 can seem garish a mere five or ten years later. If you’re having tattoo regret, laser removal is a great way to erase an image that no longer means anything to you, or that you’ve grown to hate.