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Tattoo Removal

Although tattoos are designed to be permanent, what should you do If you would like to have one removed? While nearly impossible to completely remove signs of a prior tattoo, there are some approaches that can yield good results:

  • complete removal: there are several older methods that involve cutting or scraping off the skin containing the tattoo pigment; the amount of work depends on the depth of the tattoo pigment. These are painful approaches than often leave scars and so should be avoided if possible.
  • pigment reduction:
    • laser removal is the most popular method; it uses pulses of laser light to breakdown the tattoo pigment into tiny pieces that are removed by the body's blood system.
    • lightening: there are creams on the market that are advertised to fade the tattoo over time; generally, they also work by breaking down the pigment..

When considering having a tattoo removed, here are some tips:

  • Begin by consulting with a dermatological surgeon specializing in tattoo removal. Ask your primary physician for a recommendation of one in your area.
  • The size of the tattoo, the location, the colors, and your health are some of the important factors in determining how many sessions are needed and how close together they should be scheduled.
  • Find out the total cost of removing the tattoo upfront. Your doctor might quote you a single price (if so, agree up front on what conditions determine that the work is done) or a price per visit (if so, ask how many visits will be required to reach an acceptable result); be sure to ask also about the cost of any creams or medicines.
  • Most insurance companies consider this optional cosmetic surgery and do not cover the cost in their plans. While this means that you will be paying the full cost yourself, it also means that you can negotiate the price with the doctor.
  • Sometimes, you may only want the tattoo partially removed or its appearance reduced. Talk to your doctor about what you want and listen to what he says to expect.

As an alternative to removal, you may want to consider additional tattoo work on top of the old tattoo. Sometimes you can blend in a new design in order to change a name or to correct a mistake.

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