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Sick and tired of your tattoo? Advice for getting it removed

It’s official: tattoos are no longer taboo. Nearly 40-percent of Americans ages 18-29 have one. With ink hitting the mainstream, it’s no wonder that curiosity about removal is also on the rise. While tattoos can be an empowering form of self-expression, some just outlive their relevance (e.g., lost love, youthful indiscretion, impulse decision, career change, etc.) and don’t connect to who you are anymore. Luckily, there are safe and effective options for removal. 


Do

Do go to an accredited physician

Find the best physician in your area with the most state-of-the-art lasers that they own. Research the options you find online and ask friends and physicians who they would or do go to. See a board-certified dermatologist or physician and ask about their experience in removing tattoos. 

Do consider traveling for the best treatment

Sometimes, the best physician you want isn’t in your neighborhood. It might make sense to travel to that physician to remove your tattoo. It’s possible that the best doctor you want can remove your tattoo with the fewest treatments, giving you the best-looking results. Perhaps taking a short trip for the removal is in your best interest.

Do follow treatment instructions

Take good care of your treated tattoo after treatment as per your doctor’s instructions. This will help ensure healing, resist infection, and give you healthier skin with minimal scarring. 

Do take extra care finding a professional if you have dark skin

Be sure the physician has experience treating tattoos in darkly pigmented skin. There is greater risk of certain lasers hurting your skin if you tan easily.

Do steer clear of the sun

Protect your tattoo from the sun by covering it with a bandage or clothing. Sun is the enemy of laser tattoo removal. And, no, sunscreen alone won’t suffice.


Don't

Do not get a cover-up tattoo over a tattoo you don’t like

They almost never look good, as they are designed to cover something else. The cover-up itself often needs to be modified to provide the required cover, and is thus altered from the originally designed art, typically in a less attractive manner. Cover-up tattoos also make the original tattoo much, much harder to remove with laser. 

Do not go to an inexperienced or non-physician for tattoo removal

If the wrong device or technique is used, the scarring that results may never allow it be fixed completely. If you’re going to remove a tattoo, it’s important to do it right the first time.

Do not live with unwanted ink

There are many new options for tattoo removal out there, and technology is constantly improving. Lasers have improved so much that, for some people, only a few treatments give amazing results. 

Do not get a tan over the tattoo before laser treatment

Lasers will mistake your tan skin for the enemy, instead of treating only the tattoo, the laser will hurt your skin. Protect your skin long before and long after any tattoo removal to ensure the best treatment results and speedy recovery.

Do not bargain hunt

Tattoo-removing (Q-switched) lasers are expensive to buy, so there are no genuine bargains out there. Get fewer treatments with longer time intervals between treatments to save money. Waiting longer between laser treatments will result in more ink removal per treatment.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

Thanks to advanced technology, it’s now easier than ever before to remove tattoos that no longer reflect your lifestyle. No matter your reason for removal, always choose a board-certified physician who has experience with tattoo removal. 


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Photo Credits: my neck by paul stumpr via Flickr; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Eric F. Bernstein, M.D., MSEDirector of Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Centers

Dr. Bernstein is Director of Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Dermatology Centers, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the world’s leading experts on laser medicine and surgery. Dr. Bernstein has ov...

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