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Tattoo Removal: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 15, 2024

What is the treatment?

A cover up or also known as a replacement tattoo. This is a tattoo made over an existing tattoo to completely cover it up.

Laser removal – This using lasers that break down the ink particles in the tattoo. The broken-down ink is then fought off by the immune system, mimicking the natural fading that time or sun exposure would create.

How is the treatment done?

The patient is given a pair of protective glasses to shield the eyes.

The doctor tests the skin's reaction to the laser which helps determine the most effective energy for treatment.

The doctor uses the laser that passes pulses of intense light that goes through the top layers of the skin and will be absorbed by the tattoo pigment only.

The smaller the tattoo the fewer pulses will be required while larger ones will need more to remove them. In either case, to completely rid the skin of a tattoo, it will take several treatments. After each visit, the tattoo will look progressively lighter.

Laser tattoo removal is commonly known to be uncomfortable, but most patients don’t need anesthesia. Depending on the location of your tattoo, you may want to apply a topical anesthesia cream beforehand.

Immediately following the treatment, use an ice pack to soothe the treated area. And apply an antibiotic cream or ointment and bandage to protect it. You should also be sure it’s covered with sunblock when you’re outside.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

In order to remove a tattoo, the patient must wait for 6 weeks from the time the tattoo was placed. It is unsure how many passes over the tattoo it takes, as it depends on the body’s ability to break the tattoo and get rid of the ink. Every patient is different. We know that black does better than color, smaller is better than larger, non-smokers do better than smokers, older tattoos do better than newer and tattoos close to the heart does better then on the extremities.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

People with skin allergies are advised not to attempt tattoo removal. Talking to your doctor is also recommended. People with a history of skin related diseases need more consultation.

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Are there any side effects?

Side effects include :

Frosting: During laser treatment, your skin will naturally turn a frosty white colour. Blistering: During the removal process, the laser will heat up ink particles in your skin, which can cause tiny blood vessels to break around the tattoo. Scabbing: Another sign that the tattoo removal is working, scabs often collect fragmented ink particles and usually appear 8 to 72 hours after the area has been treated. Swelling: Our body’s natural defense system will react to things like illness or infection in a number of different ways.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

If there is blistering of the treated area, there is no need to worry as this is a perfectly normal reaction to the laser treatment procedure, and should not be cause for alarm. Blistering is a positive indication that the healing process is going as planned, and that the ink is being removed from your body. It is also normal for the blisters to burst, and means that the skin will heal faster. Whilst it is not essential, you may want to apply a cold pack to the treated area. This will serve to ease discomfort and inflammation. Provided you are not prone to allergic reaction, you may also want to take a Paracetamol based painkiller, and/or an anti-inflammatory. Do not take any aspirin based pain relief, as this will thin the blood and risk unnecessary bruising and bleeding to the treated area, thus jeopardising the healing process. As long as at least 2 hours have elapsed since the procedure, it is okay to take a shower; however, avoid exposing the treated area to direct pressure, and do not soak the area in a bath, hot tub or swimming pool until it has completely healed.

How long does it take to recover?

If the patient’s immune system is in good shape then he/she will follow the general rule that it takes one to two weeks to heal after the first treatment and then less time as your treatments progress. However, if you have diabetes or other health problems it could take you slighty longer. Not to worry, everyone is usually healed, including having no scabs, after the first month. Most of the healing is done within the first 72 hours.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Rs. 500.00 - Rs. Rs. 6000.00

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results of the treatment are permanent

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, is a dermal enhancer currently being used in some spas. Instead of laser light, it uses high-intensity light in the same manner. First a gel is applied to the skin and then using a wand to emit pulses of light onto the skin area being treated. This method is said to be less painful and more effective than traditional laser therapy, but there are many tattoo removal experts who do not recommend IPL.

Fading with Saline

Some tattoo artists can fade a tattoo by "tattooing"(not injecting) saline solution into the area where the old ink resides. This is most effective with older tattoos, and is not a reliable method for tattoo removal. However, sometimes this can be done to fade a tattoo and make it easier to cover it up with a new tattoo.

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Written ByDr. Santosh BhatiaMS - General Surgery,M. Ch. (Plastic Surgery),MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of SurgeryCosmetic/Plastic Surgery
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