Thanks to Angelina Jolie, we all are more familiar with the concept of tattoo removal than we might be otherwise. Although the images of Angelina Jolie's tattoos were removed from Tomb Raider frame by frame by frame, chances are that you don't have that same option available to you for say, your upcoming wedding video. Here are a few tips on how to get your own personal "Billy Bob" removed:
- Laser. In laser tattoo removal, pulses of laser break up the tattoo pigment in the skin. There are three lasers used for tattoo removal, called the Q-switched Nd: Yag, Q-switched Alexandrite, and the Q-switched Ruby. The "Q-switching" term refers to the pulses of the laser which are short, high-intensity pulses. The laser used depends upon the colors of the tattoo. Several treatments are usually necessary to remove the entire tattoo. The laser fragments the tattoo pigment, which your own immune system then removes. While the laser does break up the pigment, it also does some damage to your skin, sometimes causing blisters and possibly scarring. Follow a photojournalistic account of one woman's laser tattoo removal journey at Cockeyed.
- Intense Pulsed Light Therapy. (IPL) uses pulses of light (not laser) with a wavelength between 400-1200 nanometers to target the tattoo pigment in your skin. Your body's own immune system removes the pigment once it's been dislodged. People who are naturally dark-skinned or have dark-skinned relatives are more likely to experience hypo- or hyperpigmentation as a result of intense pulsed light therapy.
- Excision. You've probably had teeth excised. Tattoo excision is a similar process. Anesthetic is used to numb the area, and the tattoo is removed via surgery. The skin is then stitched together, or in some cases involving large areas, a skin graft is used. With large tattoos, however, the tattoo is sometimes taken out in parts, beginning with the center and then removing the sides during a later surgery or surgeries.
- Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is just what it sounds like-abrasion of the skin (or derm). The top layer of your skin is abraded away. Ouch! After the procedure, the skin is red and raw and takes several months to heal.
- Cover-Up. Some people choose to cover up an existing tattoo with a new tattoo. You'll have to choose a design that works with your existing tattoo. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at an example here at TattooArtists. You'll want to choose your tattoo artist carefully for this procedure; ask to see examples of his previous cover-up work.
- Tattoo Removal Creams. Tattoo removal creams claim to fade the colors of your tattoo. Most of the companies advertising tattoo removal creams seem sketchy at best, and some products may include unsafe chemicals.
- BEWARE. If the Food and Drug Administration can't put the fear of injury into you, I don't know who can. Check out the FDA web site and type "tattoo removal" into its search function. Be sure that whoever removes your tattoo is up to date on the latest health warnings issued by the FDA.
Remember that, no matter the tattoo removal procedure, you'll likely have some scarring or variations in color that remain even after your tattoo has been removed. The newer the tattoo, the better your chances of removal A tattoo that has been on your skin for a very long time will likely be more difficult to remove. Still, we're sure the new hubby will appreciate it!