Do you have a tattoo you no longer want? Back then when we had that tattoo done, we took the tattoo artist’s warning of “this would be permanent” a little too lightly. Years down the road, we either get bored of the tattoo art, want to make space for a new one, or simple don’t want to have that tattoo anymore.
“I have this tattoo from my younger days on my forearm. However, I plan to take on a full time job in a corporate office soon, and I don’t think this visible tattoo is a good idea now.”
This is certainly not an uncommon situation. Many people want to have their tattoo removed at some point of time or another.
How can we remove a tattoo we no longer want?
Last week, Dr Peter Ch’ng shared extensively here on how to remove a tatto safely: Patient Mailbox: How to Remove a Tattoo I No Longer Want
But before removing your tattoo, here are 5 things that you must know!
1. Know your tattoo
Was your tattoo done by a professional tattoo artist or an amateur artist? This will affect how deeply and how even your tatto ink is pigmented in your skin.
This and the colour of your tattoo can help the doctor determine the treatment type for your tattoo removal.
For example, for red coloured tattoos, a 532 nanometer wavelength laser is used, but for a black coloured tattoo, a 1,064 nanometer wavelength laser is used to remove the tattoo.
Using the wrong laser wavelength or any misconduct of laser treatments can lead to complications like blisters and scarring, so it is very important to always only get your aesthetic treatments from certified medical doctors and professionals.
The location of your tattoo also affects the recovery period of your skin.
Areas with poor blood circulation like your ankles will take a longer time for the tattoo to completely disappear after the treatment, so it’d be wise to manage your expectations right.
2. DIY tattoo removal doesn’t work
There are many DIY tattoo removal methods that you can find online or hear people talking about. But these methods are either assumptions without any real trials done, or they can result in much worse complications.
Some of the bad DIY Tattoo Removal Remedies include using acid to peel the skin surface, scrubbing salt on the tattoo (ouch!), using a sandpaper to sand away the tattoo (yikes!), or even using fire to burn away the part of the skin carrying the tattoo!
Tattoos are inked into the middle layer of our skin, not the skin surface. So any of these methods are only effective on the skin surface, or if you try to enter into the middle layer of the skin forcefully, you can cause damage or bad scarring on your skin!
3. Tattoo removal takes time
“Can my tattoo disappear immediately after the treatment?”
When you go for a tattoo removal treatment, your tattoo doesn’t disappear immediately.
The usual procedure requires several sessions to remove the tattoo completely, and each session is done one month apart. So in other words, your tattoo may take a few months to disappear!
However, a couple of weeks after the first treatment, you can already notice the tattoo beginning to fade and slowly become less visible with treatments. It only takes a long time for it to completely disappear out of sight.
4. Your tattoo will darken after the first treatment
“My tattoo got darker!”
Yes, not only will it not disappear, it may darken in colour! But don’t panic – this is normal.
This isn’t a sign of your tattoo colour becoming more vibrant. But conversely, this is the major process in clearing the layers of tattoo slowly until we reach the middle layer of the skin, the deepest layer of the skin the tattoo is inked into.
So after the first laser treatment, the tattoo ink on the surface is removed, exposing the inner and darker coloured tattoo ink pigments on your skin. But with time, your body cells will remove these pigments and you can see your tattoo start to fade.
After the first treatment also, you might notice redness surrounding the tattoo. This is also normal and will fade after some time.
5. Laser treatment is the safest tattoo removal method
Once again, remember to avoid DIY tattoo removal – they cause damage and scarring on your skin!
Laser tattoo removal is the safest and most effective tattoo removal method. It doesn’t cause skin damage and scarring, and can effectively remove the tattoo from your skin after a few treatment sessions.
This is because the laser can penetrate directly into the middle layer of the skin, where the tattoo ink is pigmented.
During the laser treatment, our skin pigments absorb the laser light, and this light turns into heat that damages the pigment. These damaged pigments (that carried the tattoo ink) are then removed by our body cells. As a result, the tattoo appearance on the skin surface fades and slowly disappears.
But do take note: laser treatments should only be done by certified medical doctors and professionals. Getting a laser treatmentfrom unqualified practitioners can lead to treatment risks like burns and scars on our skin!
To read more on laser tattoo removal, check out Dr Peter’s explanation here: Patient Mailbox: How to Remove a Tattoo I No Longer Want.
We all look for the most effective way to remove our tattoos, but we must also always remember that safety always comes first, because none of us want any damage done to our skin as a side effect of any treatments or procedures we do!
We’ll be going back to the Patient Mailbox series next week with Dr Loo, so stay tuned!
As an esteemed dermatologist and skin specialist, Dr Peter is a renowned doctor in treating various skin conditions. He also prides himself in being able to treat acne patients of all types, with a 100% acne treatment success record. If you’d like to ask more about your skin condition or have a discussion with Dr Peter, call us at +6011-22882299, WhatsApp us here, or book an appointment with Dr Peter here!
Dr Peter Ch’ng is a Consultant Dermatologist actively involved in numerous talks and workshops, and is an esteemed contributor to dermatology research and publishing internationally. He practices at both Dr Peter Ch’ng Skin Specialist Clinic in Desa Park City and Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur.
Read more about Dr Peter Ch’ng Here.