How you Prepare
A dermatologist can explain the options for tattoo removal and help you choose the method that’s most likely to be effective for your tattoo. For example, some tattoo inks are more responsive to laser treatment than are others. Likewise, some small tattoos might be good candidates for surgical removal, while others are simply too large to remove with a scalpel.
What to Expect & Results
Tattoo removal is often done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia. Common techniques for tattoo removal include laser surgery, dermabrasion and surgical removal.
Q-switched lasers — which release energy in a single, powerful pulse — are often the treatment of choice for tattoo removal. Before laser treatment, the skin is numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic. Then a powerful pulse of energy is applied to the tattoo to heat and shatter the tattoo ink. You’ll likely need repeated sessions to lighten the tattoo, and it might not be possible to completely erase the tattoo.
During dermabrasion, the tattooed area is typically chilled until numb. Then the tattooed skin is sanded down to deeper levels with a high-speed rotary device that has an abrasive wheel or brush. This allows the tattoo ink to leach out of the skin.
During surgical removal, the skin is numbed with an injection of a local anesthetic. The tattoo is removed with a scalpel, and the edges of skin are stitched back together. After the procedure, antibacterial ointment can help promote healing.
Tattoos are meant to be permanent, and complete tattoo removal is difficult. Some degree of scarring or skin color variation is likely to remain, regardless of the specific method of tattoo removal.