The Art of Tattoo Removal

tattoo removal risks

Tattoos have become a very popular means of self-expression and personal decoration in today’s society. In past decades, body tattoos had a negative, distasteful connotation in our culture. Now, tattoos are commonly sported by people of various social classes, age groups and races throughout the country! But in addition to the great number of happily "tatted" individuals out there, there are others who view their tattoo(s) with permanent regret, and are opting for tattoo removal—risks or no.

According to MedicineNet.com, roughly "10% of the U.S. population" has some type of tattoo nowadays. This same source estimates that "eventually, as many as 50% of [that 10%] want to have laser tattoo removal" to eradicate their tattoos. So before you make a desperate reach for the Wrecking Balm, or schedule your tattoo removal appointment, let’s talk tattoo removal risks and basic procedure information.

How are Tattoos Applied?

Most of us are somewhat familiar with the methodology behind tattoo application. The tattoo ink is imprinted on the dermis, the second skin layer below the epidermis, by making multiple punctures in the skin with a sterilized needle. The needle is attached to a plastic tube that feeds the ink through to the needle tip. A tattoo artist will repeat this process of making tiny ink injections into the skin until a pre-selected design is created—similar to the pointillism technique employed by famous painters like Georges Seurat.

Because tattoos are permanent, the process of tattoo removal is not simple or fast. In fact, complete tattoo removal can require months of treatments. When injected into the dermis, tattoo ink pigments are trapped by fibroblasts and preserved, in a sense, just below the epidermis layer. Over time, the ink migrates or sinks deeper into the dermis layer, creating the faded appearance of older tattoos.

Tattoo Removal Types

Before we proceed into common tattoo removal risks, it may be helpful to first list the most popular types of tattoo removal treatments. After all, your procedure choice could affect your tattoo removal risks.

  • Laser tattoo removal: pulses of laser light are applied over a course of treatments to break up the tattoo pigments
  • Dermabrasion or Wrecking Balm: topical tattoo removal treatment that tries to remove the tattoo by gradually removing the top layers of skin
  • Excision: more effective for removing small tattoos, excision involves the surgical removal of tattooed skin

Out of the tattoo removal options listed above, most doctors and dermatologists recommend laser tattoo removal for its superior effectiveness. Laser tattoo removal is also a top choice for celebrity tattoo removal.

Common Tattoo Removal Risks

Without a doubt, the risk is greater during the initial tattoo procedure than during tattoo removal. Risks that present themselves when first getting tattoos include skin infections, allergic reactions, blood-borne diseases, and scarring or skin granulomas. Additionally, tattoo ink may interfere with future MRI scans.

By comparison, the common associated risks of tattoo removal treatments are less serious. If using lasers to remove a tattoo, risks will be similar to those of other laser skin rejuvenation treatments, including:

  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation
  • Scarring

To get more information about laser tattoo removal and tattoo removal risks, it's wise to consult with a tattoo removal specialist in your area. They can provide you with more details about tattoo removal treatments in general, and can estimate what your individual tattoo removal risks might be!

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