So the event you commemorated with a tattoo is something youd rather not remember. Or the tattoo you got in your 20s no longer reflects the real you.
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But how easy is it to get rid of your tat?
Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD, says that todays laser technology makes it possible to eliminate or fade most tattoos but not all. In the past, tattoos were surgically shaved, scraped, frozen off or peeled away with chemicals. Frequently, this left an undesirable scar, notes Dr. Vij.
In the 1980s, Q-switched nanosecondlasers emerged, offering better results. Their tiny pulses of high-poweredenergy remove or fade most colors, with little risk of skin damage. Newerpicosecond lasers show promise for more rapid tattoo removal in fewertreatments. A series of laser treatments, four to eight weeks apart, is usuallyrequired.
Before scheduling an appointment, consider these tips:
Its important to set your expectationsby speaking with a laser treatment expert. Some tattoos fade only partiallyafter these treatments.
How long ago did you get your tattoo?The answer makes a difference. Older tattoos fade generally more easily withlaser treatments than newer ones.
If laser removal uncovers skin changes,you may be left with what looks like a ghost of your old tattoo.
Where did you get your tattoo? Fadingis generally slower for tattoos located further down the arm or leg.
Amateur tattoos are usually easier to remove than professional tattoos.
No single laser can remove all tattoocolors. Different dyes respond to different light wavelengths. Black and darkgreen are the easiest colors to remove; yellow, purple, turquoise andfluorescent dyes are hardest to fade.
Tattooing itself may scar or changeskin texture, an effect often hidden by the dyes. If laser removal uncoversskin changes, you may be left with what looks like a ghost of your oldtattoo.
Laser treatments may darken or lighten skin pigment over and around the tattoo. Apply sunscreen before and after laser tattoo removal to minimize changes in your skin pigment. For the same reason, wait for your tan to fade before having a tattoo removed.
Certain cosmetic tattoos, such as pink,white and flesh-colored lip liners, may darken immediately with laser therapy.This effect can usually be corrected with further treatment. If immediate skindarkening is a concern, the laser should be tested on a small spot first.
If you experienced an allergic reactionwhen getting your tattoo intense itching and swelling tell yourdoctor. Using a Q-switched laser to remove the tattoo may trigger a moreserious allergic reaction.
Finally, before getting more body art, remember that its meant to be permanent. Make sure the tattoo you get is one you wont mind having later in life, says Dr. Vij.
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