Tattoos are more common than ever these days, and with this popularity has come increased acceptance of and interest in the practice of body art. Because of this, the incidence of tattoo removal is also on the rise. With newer laser removal techniques and a higher number of people with tattoos they would rather forget, it’s no surprise that the services of experienced tattoo removal specialists are more in demand than ever.
The most common reasons people seek tattoo removal include a tattooed name of an old flame, desiring more respect in the workplace, “outgrowing” a tattoo, a misspelled tattoo, or simply growing tired of a tattoo. Tattoo removal for former prisoners is common as well, since many tattoos have specific meanings to gangs that could spell danger for ex-gang members. So many people are experiencing tattoo regret these days that the District of Columbia is proposing a piece of legislation that would mandate a waiting period of 24 hours for anyone seeking a tattoo. This proposition is naturally controversial, with some worried that it would perpetuate tattooing in unsanitary, unsafe conditions and drive business away from reputable tattoo establishments. Without any data that predates the proposal, it is impossible to speculate on whether the measure would cut down on the number of people seeking tattoo removal.
The Laser Tattoo Removal Procedure
Laser tattoo removal involves using a pulsed laser (called a Q- switched laser) to break up the pigment in the skin. The body’s own white blood cells then work to destroy the pigment. Lasers used for treatment can be used on any area of the body. While tattoo removal is somewhat uncomfortable (most patients describe it as similar to the sensation of rubber bands snapping on the skin), the treatments are short, with most lasting ten minutes or less. Anesthetic cream is used to minimize discomfort, and a burn cream is given to the patient that should be used following each treatment. Improvement starts to become apparent around 6-8 weeks following each treatment.
The cost of tattoo removal varies greatly and has to do with the size of the tattoo. For smaller tattoos, removal typically costs $250-$300 per treatment. Larger and more complex tattoos cost significantly more, particularly if many treatments are necessary.
Tattoo removal is a process, and it can often take a long time to produce significant improvement in a tattoo’s visibility. Treatments are typically spaced a 6-8 weeks apart, and the number of treatments required depends largely on the color and complexity of the tattoo being treated.
Impossible to Remove?
Some tattoos are more difficult or almost impossible to remove. These usually contain difficult colors such as yellow, beige, orange, red, white, and green. The age of the ink is a factor as well, with newer inks often proving more difficult to remove. Providers analyze the tattoo prior to treatment to provide an estimate of how much improvement may be expected, and how many treatments significant improvement is likely to require.
The Right Provider
Because the tattoo removal market has emerged as a viable and lucrative opportunity, there is potential for inexperienced or unskilled providers to start administering laser treatments. It’s safest to seek treatment from a board-certified plastic surgeon who has extensive experience performing tattoo removal, like Dr. Stuart Bentkover of Bentkover Facial Plastic Surgery and Laser Center in the Boston area. Dr. Bentkover is renowned for his expert tattoo removal services and surgical skill, so if you are experiencing tattoo regret, give Dr. Bentkover a call in Worcester (508-363-6500) or Stoneham (617-247-0033), MA to schedule a consultation.