Tattoo Removal & Skin Care

There are many reasons you may decide to remove a tattoo. Perhaps it was done out of impulse and you regret getting it. Or maybe you are dissatisfied with the way it turned out or are experiencing an allergic reaction to the ink. Although expensive and often painful, tattoo removal is possible. There are many procedures that can help lighten or even completely remove the unwanted body art. Long-term effects of laser tattoo removal are something to consider if you are considering going through the treatment to get rid of your ink. All forms of tattoo removal will affect your skin, but the severity will depend upon your skin type, the tattoo itself and the removal method you choose. Your dermatologist can help you make the best choices for your skin during the tattoo removal process.

Types
Laser tattoo removal is the most costly option. Lasers are used to break up the tattoo inks under the surface of the skin. While laser tattoo removal can be expensive, time consuming and painful, it works. Tattoo removal creams can rely upon chemical and mechanical exfoliation, but only chemical peels have been shown to be effective, according to the Healthy Skin Association.

Laser Removal
Laser tattoo removal is not an easy process. Your health care provider may recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain reliever before the procedure, suggest an anesthetic cream or even use an injected local anesthetic. You will be given after care instructions to care for your skin. The laser removal site will be treated with an antibacterial ointment and bandaged. It may be suggested that you elevate the area to reduce swelling. You can expect sensations similar to a sunburn, reports YourPlasticSurgeryGuide.com. Your skin will be very sun sensitive, so proper precautions are essential.

TCA Peels
The only chemical option proven effective, the trichloroacetic acid or TCA peel, causes significant skin irritation. A stinging sensation is typical during the peel process. The skin is bandaged and a scab forms. The skin should remain bandaged until the scab is gone; however, if the scab remains wet or moist at the end of the first week, betadine ointment should be applied and the area redressed regularly until the scab is dry reports the HealthySkinAssociation. Repeat treatments are necessary at three-month intervals, with each peel requiring three to six weeks to heal.

Tattoo Removal Creams
Tattoo removal creams use a variety of ingredients or methods. One of the most popular and best reviewed of these, Wrecking Balm, combines creams with a mechanical abrasion device. WreckingBalm.com states that a mild burning or stinging sensation is normal. The company recommends that you avoid using the product on cracked, irritated or delicate skin.

Considerations
Good skin care can reduce the effects of tattoo removal. If you opt for laser treatment, follow your care provider's instructions to avoid additional irritation. Both TCA peels and abrasive systems like Wrecking Balm may leave you with tender, new skin that requires gentle treatment, sun protection and care. Keep in mind that you may only need to fade a tattoo if you plan to cover the area with a new tattoo and can therefore reduce skin damage by opting for fewer treatments.

Some Tattoo Removal Creams That Might Help
Laser tattoo removal is costly and painful, but there are creams on the market that claim to lighten or remove tattoos without difficult and uncomfortable procedures. Before going this route, learn what these tattoo removal creams can and cannot do to make an educated choice about your removal options.

Nuviderm
Nuviderm is a liquid chemical peel that uses trichloroacetic acid or TCA, which is also used in dermatologist offices for facial skin peels. This chemical tattoo removal option may be used to pre-fade a tattoo before laser treatment, or as a standalone product. Nuviderm liquid is diluted and applied to the tattoo every three to six weeks. Fading should be seen after a few treatments, according to Nuviderm.com.

Tat B Gone
Tat B Gone has been selling its product online since 2003. There are three components to the Tat B Gone system, however the company does not make the ingredient list publicly available. This system does not rely upon chemical or manual exfoliating agents, and claims to be hypoallergenic.

There are several methods of partial and complete tattoo removal, including laser removal, dermabrasion and tattoo removal creams. Most tattoo removal creams contain similar main ingredients.

The main ingredients in tattoo removal creams are typically designed to reduce the production of melanin, rather than to remove tattoo inks. Some researchers question the effectiveness of these ingredients.

Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is a topical chemical that is available under several brand names, including Aclaro and Alera. This chemical lightens the skin by inhibiting the production of melanin, a pigment that gives skin a brown color, according to Drugs.com. It is typically used to reduce the appearance of age spots, freckles and other darkened skin areas. Hydroquinone is also a common active ingredient in tattoo removal creams. This chemical may worsen dry, chapped or windburned skin, and should not be used by people with liver or kidney disease.

Kojic Acid
Kojic acid is a chemical that is used in a variety of skin lightening creams as a de-pigmentation agent, according to the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers. It is also considered an emollient and an antioxidant. Kojic acid is also a main ingredient in tattoo removal creams, and may help fade inks used in tattoos. This ingredient has been shown to be toxic to laboratory animals, although the potential toxicity to humans is unknown.

Alpha Arbutin
According to the Civant Skin Care website, alpha arbutin is a water-soluble chemical that promotes skin lightening and an even skin tone. It is commonly used to lighten age spots and reduce tanning after exposure to ultraviolet rays. This chemical is considered more stable and effective than other skin-lightening ingredients. Alpha arbutin also appears in commonly available tattoo removal creams. This chemical should be stored in a lightfast container in a cool, dry place to avoid microbial contamination. When stored and used correctly, alpha arbutin produces no known side effects.

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