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Surgical Methods for Tattoo Removal
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There are other methods of tattoo removal, but most of them are so painful and ineffective that laser removal replaced them as soon as it became available. Most surgeons caution patients that complete tattoo removal is not possible. Few surgeons guarantee complete removal. However, you should beware if they do! This might be your first sign warning sign. How effective the removal technique is depends on size, location, age of tattoo, colors and type of ink used. Also, be aware of the possible side effects - scarring and pain. These methods have proved to cause damage to the skin and result in severe scarring. Moreover, they are only used today in extreme cases where laser surgery is not possible. Some of the more damaging techniques include:

Laser Removal

Nowadays, lasers are the most common method of tattoo removal. They work by targeting the ink with pulses of highly concentrated light that break the ink into tiny fragments, which are then cleared away the your own immune system. The Laser technique is the penetration and break up of the ink articles that were injected into your skin.

Laser has improved a lot over the past couple of years. It used to take an average of 2 years to remove a tattoo, and even then, the process was not fully guaranteed. Although modern lasers and light systems can remove a tattoo in a little less time, this process is entirely dependent upon the laser type, number of sessions and the patient`s body. This procedure is performed under a topical anesthetic or with none at all. This is one of the more expensive methods used today.

However, this is not all done with just one treatment. The more treatments you have, the more the laser can penetrate to destroy the ink. But, the more treatments you have, the more damage you do to your skin, causing painful blisters and scabs that can eventually lead to scarring. Experts in removal therapy say that technology has advanced to the point where scarring is minimal, sometimes non-existent, but this can vary depending on the situation.

On top of being physically painful (it has been described as feeling like being splattered with hot grease), laser removal can be painful to your wallet as well. Depending on your tattoo, you may need anywhere from 1-10 sessions, each costing in the range of Rs. 2000-40000/- per session. A large, professional tattoo in colour could cost thousands of dollars to remove, and the effectiveness of the removal still is not guaranteed.

The depth and density of the ink is probably the biggest determining factor involved in successfully removing a tattoo. With each treatment, the laser fragments more ink and penetrates a little deeper into your skin; blistering and scabbing often follow. Taking care of the treated area is the most important factor in removing a tattoo without a scar. Post laser treatment will determine the success rate. Since using the laser cannot regulate the speed of the fading process, it is better to treat more conservatively than aggressively, allowing the surrounding tissues to relax during the weeks between treatments.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, or IPL, is the newest and greatest dermal enhancer currently being used. Instead of laser light, it uses high intensity light in the same manner. A gel is applied to the skin and then a wand is used to emit pulses of light onto the skin area being treated. This method is said to be less painful than laser therapy, and more effective, resulting in less total treatment sessions. However, the negative point in this treatment is that it also carries a heftier price tag - one clinic offering a price of 450/- (approx) per pulse. Depending on how many pulses per session your tattoo requires, this could add up to a significant amount of money.

Cryosurgery

This method involves freezing area of tattoo area prior to its removal. The removal technique often used is dermabrasion. Because of freezing the skin, there is less blood loss.

Dermabrasion

This method involves removing all of the skin and the ink of the tattoo. A sanding instrument is used to "sand off" surface and middle layers of the skin. The tattoo is "sanded" with a rotary abrasive instrument in order to remove all of the skin. Bleeding is likely to occur. This procedure is performed under local anesthetic or local and oral/IV sedation.

Excision

The tattooed area is cut out of your skin, and the surrounding skin is sutured together. This method leaves a scar. Only a small tattoo or a small section of a tattoo can be excised at a time. A larger tattoo may require several treatments and a skin graft. If it is, a large tattoo skin from another part of the body might be needed for a skin graft.

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