If you’re tired of your tattoo(s) – you broke up with the person whose name is written on your arm, you’re no longer a fan of that band whose logo is tattooed on your back, or your tattoo just doesn’t fit in with how you see yourself anymore – there’s good news and bad news. Yes, you can get tattoos removed. No, it’s not easy or cheap. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Read on to learn some things about tattoo removal that may surprise you, and hopefully will help you decide what to do.
Good news: You’re not alone. According to the Food and Drug Administration, one out of eight tattooed adults in the U.S. regret getting it done. With this much demand, you know tattoo removal services are fairly easily available.
Bad news: It’s probably going to cost you money. The range is roughly $50–$300 per square inch of tattoo, depending on the treatment you use and whether it works.
Good news: Laser surgery is safe and effective. A dermatologist uses the laser to break up the ink into small particles, which eventually leave your body (you hope, anyway; they may settle in another part of it).
Bad news: Lasers are expensive (at the $300 end of the scale), can be painful, can leave scars or skin irritation, and usually take more than one treatment.
Good news: Massachusetts General Hospital is working on a method of removing tattoos in just one laser treatment.
Bad news: Over-the-counter tattoo removal products are available and much less expensive than laser surgery, but get mixed reviews. They’re not approved by the FDA, which hasn’t seen any evidence that they work. Like any skin care product, they may cause irritation.
Good news: Clinics in some places (like Los Angeles) offer cheap or free tattoo removal, especially for gang related tattoos or in other cases where someone is trying to turn his/her life around. There’s usually a waiting list, and the patient may need to go to counselling or do community service.
More good news: Strangely enough, the darker colors (blue and black) are usually the easiest to remove, so your tattoo may not be as tough to take off as you feared. On the other hand, it may be tougher.
Considering all this, your best bet may be to save your money for laser surgery, and meanwhile cover up the tattoo with makeup.