Many people may be proud of their tattoos. Usually people love to have tattoos when they are young, but later you may no longer be proud of when you grow older and you might have desire to remove your tattoos. The reason could be to enhance self-esteem, your professional status, social and family reasons. In this article, we’ll be reviewing some tattoos removal methods that were previously and are currently being used.

There are many tattoo removal methods in use these days including those do it yourself methods, but many methods may just be partially effective or may leave scar and hyper-pigmentation to your skin. In fact, old tattoos and tattoos done on proximal regions are easier to remove then the new ones or distally placed tattoos. The most common methods may be laser tattoo removal, dermabrasion and surgical removal.

If you desire to remove your tattoo, consult your dermatologist for the best options that suits you. Don’t just go for do it yourself home tattoo removal methods. They don’t work on every tattoo as advertised and it may further result in scarring, hyper-pigmentation, irritation and allergic reaction or infection. If you consult your dermatologist, he or she will decide which methods might work best on you.

Based on different dermatological research and studies, the following are the methods used in tattoo removal process.

Mechanical Dermabrasion:
This method uses a sterile sandpaper or dermabrasion machine to abrade the skin to the deeper level (reticular dermis). The dermabrasion machine has a rotating device (33,000 revolutions per minute) like diamond fraises, wire brushes or serrated wheel. The affected area after dermabrasion may be treated with topical or oral antibiotics and the area covered with a special bandage for few weeks. This method was widely used previously before laser removal was discovered. This method may not completely remove the tattoo.

This method was used in ancient times and still being used in some countries. In this method, salt is added to tap water and rubbed vigorously to abrade the skin within a tattoo area.

Cryosurgery uses either solid carbon dioxide(-79°C), nitrous oxide(-70°C), liquid nitrogen(-196°C), dimethyl ether and propane (-50°C), or salt and ice (-20°C). Results may be satisfactory but not as good as lasers.

Excision with primary closure or grafting:
Excision involves the removal of tattoo with a scalpel and stitching back the edges of skin together. Grafting involves the excision of epidermis from donor site and grafting this epidermis to the tattoo site. Antibiotics are prescribed to promote the healing. These methods are effective but it may leave the scar and are better for small tattoos rather then bigger one.

Chemical extraction using a remover paste:
In this method, the skin over the tattoo is punctured and a paste made with zinc oxide, magnesium oxide, calcium oxide, triethanolamine, isopropanol ,benzoic acid and de-ionized water is applied to the area. As a result inflammation starts and the tattoo pigment is squeezed out.

Laser tattoo removal:

Argon and carbon dioxide lasers:
These were early laser tattoo removal methods but now replaced by Q-switched lasers. These are now being used for the removal of tattoo granulomas. The healing time for Argon and carbon dioxide lasers is longer then compared to Q-switched lasers. The main complication is the hypertrophic scarring.

Q-switched Lasers tattoo removal:
Q-switched laser are now being widely used as the method of choice for tattoo removal. These lasers release energy in a single pulse and each pulse has a very high peak power. When applied to tattoo site, these high power short pulse of energy heats and split the ink in the tattoo. To prevent epidermal damage, surface cooling is done. If you have a multi-colored tattoo, you may need several lasers with different wavelength. Topical or oral Antibiotics may be necessary for several days to promote the healing. Multiple laser session 5-10 (each 6 weeks apart or more) are usually required to completely erase the tattoo.

Following Q-switched lasers are used for each tattoo color:

Black and blue tattoo: Nd:YAG lasers
Black, blue and green: Ruby or Alexandrite lasers
Red, purple and orange: Frequency doubled Nd:YAG lasers