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tattoo removal - what works, what doesn't

If you've ever gotten a tattoo, someone probably told you that you'd regret your ink someday. While plenty of people go through their lives happy with their tattoos, a few do eventually change their mind. After a few years, some people start to wonder why they ever thought it was a good idea to get a butterfly, star or someone's name permanently printed on their skin.


The good news is that tattoo removal is an option should you eventually decide that your ink is no longer for you. The not-so-great news is that not all tattoo removal methods are effective or even safe. Before you choose the method that seems quickest, get to know what works and what doesn't.

Doesn't Work: Removal Cream

At first glance, a tattoo removal cream seems like the perfect quick and easy solution when you've grown tired of your tattoo. All you need to do is slather the cream over the ink and it will fade away.

Unfortunately, tattoo removal creams are usually too good to be true. A cream will help your ink fade, but it won't eliminate it completely. Usually, what happens is the bleaching ingredients in tattoo removal can help the top layer of pigment fade. But since the ink from the tattoo is usually located in the deeper layers of skin as well, the cream isn't able to reach all of the ink.

Many people who try a tattoo removal cream end up with a half-on, half-off tattoo that looks messy and distorted and often worse than when they started.

It's also worth noting that there aren't any tattoo removal creams that are approved by the FDA. Worse, these creams often contain harsh ingredients that can cause unpleasant side effects, including skin burns and rashes. You're better off leaving any creams that promise to remove tattoos on the shelf.

Not the Best Idea: Chemical Peels

A chemical peel can help to refresh your skin by removing the top layer of dead skin cells and encouraging the growth of new cells. Chemical peels range in potency from very mild, superficial peels to deep peels that remove more skin and require a lengthier recovery period.

Although it makes sense to think that a chemical peel could help to remove a tattoo by removing the skin cells that contain the ink, the reality is that peels aren't an effective tattoo removal option. No chemical peels are currently FDA approved for use in removing tattoos. Even if there a peel that would be effective, the treatment process would be long and would require a considerable amount of recovery time afterward.

Not the Best Idea: Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is actually an approved method of tattoo removal. Howeve, it's not the best option out there. During dermabrasion, a plastic surgeon sands away the top layers of skin. If those layers of skin contain ink, then the ink will be sanded away as well. Dermabrasion can go pretty deep into the skin, meaning that it's possible for a treatment to reach the deeper areas where ink might be located.

There are a couple of drawbacks of dermabrasion. One is that it leaves your skin raw, red and oozing. It can be up to a couple of weeks before you're ready to appear in public again after dermabrasion. Another drawback is that you might need multiple treatments, which can increase your risk for infection. Since the process involves removing the top layers of skin, the exposed tissues are often very delicate. There's also a risk for discoloration in the treated area.

Effective Tattoo Removal: PiQ04 Laser

The most effective and the recommended method for removing unwanted tattoos is a series of laser treatment. Some lasers are better than others when it comes to tattoo removal. For example, the PiQo4 laser works on a wider range of tattoo ink colors compared to other laser treatments, so it's better able to treat stubborn ink colors and can more effectively reduce the appearance of an unwanted tattoo.

Another benefit of the PiQo4 laser is that it treats a larger area at one time, so you spend less time getting your tattoo removed. It's also gentler on the skin compared to other lasers, so recovery and downtime are shorter.

Schedule a Consultation With a Surgeon for Laser Tattoo Removal

If you regret your tattoo, you don't have to live with it. At Masri Clinic for Laser and Cosmetic SurgeryDr. Haitham Masri and Dr. Fatina Masri each have more than two decades of experience performing plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures. Masri Clinic offers the state-of-the-art PiQo4 laser to patients at practice locations in Birmingham and Dearborn, Michigan. To schedule a consultation with the Masri Clinic and learn more about tattoo removal options,  call (866) 487-3223.

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