It looked so beautiful in your head. It looks so bad on your body.
Tattoo regret is extremely common, so if you are wishing you didn’t have Grandma’s name inked over your heart, or your ex’s face etched into your chest, you’re not alone.
Approximately 20% of Americans over age 18 have at least one tattoo; 30% of men and women between the ages 40 and 49 do. And about 25% of those people wish they’d never done it. One of the main reasons for tattoo regret is simply impulsivity; 28% of people who regret their tattoos only considered their design for a few hours before getting inked.
Luckily, a tattoo is one “permanent” cosmetic procedure that can be reversed. Thanks to the advent of high-tech lasers, a skilled dermatologist can return your skin back to its original blank canvas over a series of treatments. Julio Garcia, MD, a Las Vegas plastic surgeon, uses laser therapy to gradually remove tattoos … and their regret.
Why You Can’t Just “Erase” Your Tattoo
The internet abounds with “cures” for tattoos, from rubbing your skin with salt and lemon to scrubbing it with sandpaper. As you might guess, that doesn’t do much of anything other than irritate your skin and open it to the possibility of infection.
You can also buy lightening and peeling creams, lotions, and potions that contain trichloracetic acid (TCA) or hydroquinone. These may lighten or damage the skin surrounding the tattoo. And can do nothing, really to fade the tattoo ink.
The reason that a tattoo can’t be easily “erased” with a topical treatment or scrub is that the pigment doesn’t lie on top of your skin. The needle gunhttps://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/piercings-tattoos/how-piercings-tat... that was used to create your tattoo deposited quick bursts of pigment particles deep into a lower layer of your skin, called the dermis. This permanently changes the color of that skin layer. Because the dermis is not exposed to the sun, the pigment that lies deeply in it will not fade over time. The cells in the dermis also turn over very slowly, which is why a tattoo can last a lifetime.
Shattering the Pigment, Layer by Layer
Injecting a foreign substance into your body usually triggers your immune system to step up and eliminate the threat. However, the pieces of tattoo pigment are so large that the white blood cells cannot process them.
To permanently “erase” a tattoo, the pigment particles must be shattered by the intense energy of a laser. This breaks them into tiny pieces that the white blood cells can process. The pigment is then filtered through the lymph system and eliminated permanently from the body via normal excretion. Yes, you will be literally peeing your tattoo away!
Dr. Garcia uses the MedLite Q-Switched Nd: YAG laser to shatter tattoo ink particles so they can be processed by the body. The wavelength of the laser’s energy is adjusted depending on which color is being treated. Dr. Garcia treats one color at a time. Most colors can be shattered, but darker colors such as blue and black respond best. The Medlite laser can be used to remove tattoos from all skin types — no matter how light or dark.
The MedLite laser targets the pigment only, which absorbs all of the laser’s energy. This means your skin will not be burned or otherwise harmed by the treatment.
Tattoos Go On Quickly, But Take Time to Remove
Because the tattoo pigment is usually many layers thick, it takes more than one laser treatment to shatter all of the pigment particles. Most tattoos take at least 6 to 8 sessions to fade them sufficiently. Depending on the colors and size of your tattoo, you can expect more than a 95% improvement by the time you reach your last treatment.
Each session will take about 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. After your treatment with the MedLite laser, an antibiotic ointment will be applied to the treated area to avoid the risk of infection. There may be some pinpoint bleeding, but this should cease shortly after your treatment. You must be careful not to scrape, rub, or otherwise abrade the area while is healing.
You need to leave about 1 to 2 months between each tattoo treatment session so that your body can eliminate the shattered pigment fragments and your dermis can heal. After your last removal session, the tattoo will continue to fade over the next 2-month period.
Most tattoos take about a year to two years to remove. If you are hoping to cover the tattoo with a new tattoo, you may be able to stop the removal process after the pigment fades sufficiently for it to be hidden in the new design.
Start Now for Clear Skin Soon
The sooner you start to have your tattoo treated, the more quickly it will be gone. If you are looking for a plastic surgeon in Las Vegas, Dr. Garcia will bring his artist’s eye as to your tattoo-removal process. Together, you can work out a tattoo-removal schedule that will help you put your tattoo — and the regret — behind you.