There are various methods of tattoo removal. The removal method depends upon the pigment used, the amount of time the tattoo was on the skin, the size, location and whether or not it was done professionally. It is important to remember that it costs more to remove a tattoo than to apply one. Since it is an elective procedure it is not covered by most health insurance companies. Total removal of a tattoo is not always possible. In the U.S. dermatologist's estimate that 400,000 people will have their tattoos removed this year.
Common Removal Methods
Surgical removal may be an option for small tattoos. Surgery also can be used for the removal of larger tattoos, but this may involve the need for multiple surgeries and skin grafting.
Dermabrasion is another removal method, which involves freezing the skin, then sanding the surface with an abrasive instrument. Because the pigments are located in the middle of the skin, pain, bleeding and or discomfort can be expected.
Salabrasion is a similar procedure, bur requires the application of an irritating substance prior to sanding. This position can take 30 - 60 minutes depending upon the location and size of the tattoo.
Laser treatment, whereby light is amplified by stimulated emission radiation, is a popular removal method. Its effectiveness is dependent on the targeted pigment. These instruments emit highly focused light beams that break up the pigment particles, which then evaporate.
The laser beam feels as if a rubber band is being snapped against the skin. Crusting at the tattoo site results and the tattoo will gradually fade as healing takes place.
The effectiveness of this method is compromised if the person has a deep tan. In some cases the multiple treatment sessions may be required for complete removal. The average cost for complete removal can vary, but the average range for removal of a 2-square-inch tattoo is $900 -$1500.