When you were young, you most likely made some choices that you’ve come to regret as an adult. Perhaps you skipped your last year of college in favor of a big job and now find yourself returning to school. Maybe you’re among the many baby boomers who spent considerable time on mood-altering substances or, as a teen, decided that driving fast was more fun than keeping your license.
Of all the mistakes you could have made, however, one stands out as being quite a bit more permanent than others — getting a tattoo. Long gone are the days when the only people getting tattoos are drunken sailors and outlaws. Anyone with a tinge of the rebel or a desire to fit in gets inked these days. And just as many live to regret the choice, especially when it’s in a place that you can’t easily cover-up.
Tattoos literally invade your skin. They’re made of needles that create puncture wounds deep into your layers of skin and deposit ink. The reason tattoos last so long is because of the depth of their insertion — well below the upper layer, or epidermis, and far into the dermis, which is the stable second layer of your skin. Tattoo artists mostly use mechanical equipment now to insert the ink. Run by a foot pedal, the needle is attached to a tube filled with ink and, when it’s set in the right spot, digs about 1/16th of an inch into your skin. Getting a tattoo can be painful, depending on where it’s located. Fatty parts of your body feel less pain than areas of skin close to the bone with little or no padding.
Take It Off
Now that you’ve changed your mind about your dedication to the art or name you’ve implanted in your skin, you want it gone. In the past, you would have had to undergo a pretty extensive surgical procedure that meant cutting away the layers of your skin where the ink lies.
The process today is not so ominous, particularly with the advances made in laser technology. Many tattoo shops offer laser tattoo removal, but it’s much safer to consult with a New York dermatologist for the procedure. You don’t need to make any more bad choices — tattoo removal by a medical doctor is the best choice to make.
The Best Candidates
It’s important to remain realistic even when you visit an experienced dermatologist. It’s possible that — because of your skin, the type of ink that was used, and the age of your tattoo — that all of it can’t be removed. The best candidates for tattoo removal know that there are no guarantees. Additionally, a good candidate for the procedure is:
- In good physical condition;
- Self-conscious or embarrassed by the ink;
- Held back from certain jobs because of the glaring tattoos;
- Aware that the tattoo is offensive or not in line with your values any longer;
- Aging and unhappy with the current shape of the skin art;
- Tired of always having to cover it up;
- Able to pay for multiple treatments because tattoo removal rarely is covered by insurance.
You need to plan on making a number of visits to have laser treatments; it’s a process your dermatologist will explain that takes time. Depending on the size and color of your tattoos, you can expect to make between two and 12 visits. It’s difficult to predict how stubborn your tattoos will prove to be until you start.
Each treatment takes only minutes. You may or may not need numbing anesthesia on the area; that depends on where the tattoo is located and on your level of pain acceptance. Laser surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. The process works as a process:
- Using beams of light, the laser zaps spots of ink in your skin.
- Once your skin is “burned” by the laser, your immune system rushes antibodies to the area.
- The zapped pigments then disappear more and more with each treatment.
- Pain is minimal and may feel just like it did when you got the tattoo — like a bee sting or being snapped by a rubber band.
- You’ll apply an icepack immediately after each laser treatment.
- A non-stick bandage covers the area to aid healing.
- After a few months, you shouldn’t be able to see anything but a mere trace of the artwork.
After each treatment, you’ll be advised to take care of the wound by keeping it clean, allowing a scab to form, and leaving it alone. You’ll receive instructions on how to care for your skin that include wearing sunscreen at all times. You can resume normal activities immediately following the procedure, but you may want to take it easy for a few hours and find someone to drive you home.
Most tattoo laser removal processes are successful in achieving your desired result with little or no side effects, but risks do exist and can include:
- Allergic reaction;
- Underlying structural damage;
- Nerve damage;
- Hyperpigmentation, which leaves your skin darker than your normal coloring;
- Hypopigmentation, a condition that results in lighter skin than normal.
You should maintain vigilance and call your dermatologist if you notice:
- Any redness around the area that was treated;
- Your skin becomes warm to the touch;
- Excessive pain.
If your tattoo is small enough or your dermatology specialist believes that you aren’t a good candidate for laser tattoo removal, you may try surgery. While all dermatologists are trained in dermatology and cosmetic dermatology practices, your doctor has extensive experience making sure you receive the treatment that will provide you with the optimal results you’re looking for.
For the surgical procedure, you may be given a light sedative to relax you while the area where the tattoo is situated is numbed. The best NYC laser tattoo removal surgeon then cuts the tattoo right out of your skin. To close the wound, either stitches or a previously chosen skin graft are used.
Surgical risks are similar to the risks you take from getting laser treatments. With surgery, however, you have a better chance of seeing a complete removal of the ink. Continue with your scheduled follow-up visits and follow your post-op instructions carefully for the best results.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a dermatologist about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board-certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.Locations: Manhattan Dermatology (Upper East Side) 983 Park Ave, Ste 1D1, NY 10028
(212) 427-8750 Manhattan Dermatology (Midtown) 56 W 45th St, Ste 819, NY 10036
(212) 889-2402 Manhattan Dermatology (Union Square) 55 W 17th St, Ste 103, NY 10011