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The body art of tattooing has been traced back to the prehistoric times. In fact, it is believed to be as old as the human civilization itself. The methods and techniques of making a tattoo differ from one culture to another and one region to the next. However, the basis of all the methods is the same - injecting colored pigments into skin, which become permanent with time. Not only tattoo making, but tattoo removal is also an important part of the body art. There are various reasons, because of which people want to get their tattoos removed. While many of them get successful in the process, a few end up getting scars also.

Many cases of tattoo removal have resulted in scars, skin diseases and wounds. There are several factors, like size and location of the tattoo, an individual's healing process, how the tattoo was applied and for how long the tattoo has been on the skin, deciding the results of the removal process. Today, a number of tattoo removal methods are available. The method that will be chosen by the doctor will depend upon the size of the tattoo, its location as well as the length of time it has been on the skin. Read on to get a look at the various methods of tattoo removal, prevalent in the present times.

Tattoo Removal Methods

Laser : - Laser surgery is considered to be one of the best methods of tattoo removal. In this method, first of all, a cream or gel is applied on the skin, to make it numb. Thereafter, laser light is targeted at the tattoo ink. As a result, the ink breaks into tiny fragments, which are removed by the scavenger cells (immune system) of the body, with time. However, you need to undertake the laser treatment more than once, to be fully effective.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy : - The latest as well as one of the most popular methods of tattoo removal, today, is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL). It is almost like the laser therapy, the only difference being that in IPL, instead of the laser, high intensity light is used to break down the ink into tiny fragments. This method is believed to be less painful than laser therapy and much more effective as well. However, the IPL method is also quite expensive.

Surgical Excision : - The excision method of tattoo removal is more useful when the tattooed area is comparatively small. Though it is used in case of larger tattoos as well, in that case, the entire procedure has to be carried out in a phased manner. In this method, local anesthesia is applied to numb the tattooed area, after which the tattoo is removed with a scalpel. The edges are then brought together and stitched well. Excision method helps in complete elimination of tattoos and involves minimal bleeding.

Dermabrasion : - Dermabrasion is yet another effective method of tattoo removal. This particular method involves freezing of the tattooed part, by spraying it with a solution. After freezing the area, an abrasive instrument is used to mechanically remove or 'sand' the upper layers of the skin. Thereafter, the area is bandaged. The new layer of remodeled skin, which replaces the 'sanded' skin after some time, has a smooth and revived appearance, devoid of the tattoo.

How Does It Work?

The Laser treatments use your body's own defense mechanisms to remove the pigment. When the tattoo was applied, your body encapsulated the ink in the skin's collagen.

Laser energy breaks up the ink pigment into smaller particles that, over a period of weeks, are removed by your body. Larger particles may require several treatments, but the tattoo gradually fades.

Is It Dangerous?

Not in the hands of trained, qualified physicians.

How Long Is A Treatment Session?

Depending on the size and location of the tattoo, a typical session runs from 10 to 30 minutes.

Will It Remove My Tattoo Completely?

That depends on a number of factors. Tattoos that contain yellow, red, or certain green pigments can be difficult to remove. And large or particularly thick tattoos, usually applied by a professional tattoo artist, can require many treatments for successful removal.

Is Laser Tattoo Removal Painful?

That depends on your pain threshold. When a lower fluence is used, the degree of pain is often described as comparable to that of a rubber band snapping against the skin. You may need local anesthesia with higher fluences. This will eliminate any discomfort during the procedure. A topical anesthetic cream (such as EMLA®) or the infiltration of the surrounding skin with lidocaine may be necessary.

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