Repent of the tattoo? Here's what to know before getting it removed

Repent of the tattoo? Here's what to know before getting it removed

In 2016 alone, according to data from the Italian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Aicpe), the problem affected 13 thousand people. The reasons can be the most disparate, but the problem, once you decide, is the same for everyone: “How to get rid of that tattoo done when you were too young / too in love / too excited and what will be the result?”. A problem that if to many it may seem extremely niche, in reality, according to the data of the Italian Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Aicpe), in 2016 alone it concerned 13 thousand tattoo repentants. Removing a tattoo is much more difficult than doing it, and it’s not always possible to do so.

Tattoos are often done when young without thinking that it is a sign that will accompany us forever. Many get tired, tastes and passions change and therefore decide to delete the design or writing. Some do it for work: not having tattoos or piercings is mandatory for those who decide to join the army or police, carabinieri, finance.

So here are the things to know when deciding to say goodbye to your tattoo:
1) Complete disappearance is not always possible – The laser does not always completely erase the tattoo, just as the eraser erases the mark of a pencil; the effectiveness of the treatment depends on the color, depth, density and type of pigment and the patient’s phototype, that is, the color of his skin (white, olive, black).

2) Professionalism is everything – The best way forward is to contact only professionals who are experts in the sector, able to propose modern techniques. “At the moment the most effective technique is represented by q-switched lasers (Q-S lasers), instruments that produce a very short duration laser pulse (nanoseconds, a few billionths of a second) – says Aicpe -. This destroys the cells within which the pigment granules are accumulated, breaking them into smaller fragments (variable diameter from 10 to 100 thousandths of a millimeter) which are disposed of in the body tissues or by migrating cells over the following days and weeks. Repeated treatments, spaced out by a suitable period of time (generally 45 – 60 days) to allow the spontaneous removal of the pigments, allowing the gradual disappearance of the tattoo to be pursued “.

3) Choose the time of year to do it well – It is necessary to calculate the times well, because removing a tattoo is a long process: several sessions spaced about 6-8 weeks are required. Exposure of the treated skin to the sun or tanning lamps must be avoided for at least one month, taking care, during the first exposures, to use high protection sunscreen creams (filters 30 + -50 +).

4) Difficult to calculate how many sessions will be needed – It is difficult to know in advance how many sessions will be needed to remove a tattoo. In the easiest cases they vary from 3 to 5, while in the more difficult ones it reaches 8-12 sessions. In a small percentage of cases, the treatment can be unsatisfactory. It depends on several factors: the type of tattoo (professional ones are usually more difficult to remove due to the greater depth of the pigment and its high density and stability); the color (green, blue and above all yellow, are very difficult (sometimes impossible) to remove, while red, in some cases, can darken, due to any ferrous materials present in the pigment). Older tattoos are easier to get rid of than newer ones because the body has already removed some of the pigment.

5) The larger the tattoo, the longer it will take – The duration of each session depends on the surface of the tattoo to be removed. An area of 4 centimeters per side is treated in about ten minutes.

6) Pink-brown-orange cosmetic tattoos (eyebrows, lips, areolas, camouflage of scars) must be treated with great caution, carrying out tests on small areas before proceeding with the complete treatment, as “they contain zinc and titanium oxide and if treated with the Q-S laser they can become irreversibly black”, says Aicpe.

7) The patient can interrupt the removal treatment at any time , knowing however that in this way the work is not completed.

8) Q-S laser treatment is painful . To reduce pain, anesthetizing cream is usually applied 30 minutes before the session and during the treatment, ice is applied to the skin.

9) The darker the skin, the more difficult it will be to remove – Removal is more problematic for those with dark skin. Removal is also not recommended for those with a tendency to develop hypertrophic or keloid scars, for those with active skin infections. Instead, pay attention to drug therapies or photo-sensitizing drugs.

10) The “post-operative” – After the treatment, bubbles form on the skin. It is indicated to treat the skin with antibiotic ointments and to apply an occlusive dressing with vaseline gauze for one or two days, until scabs form.

11) The “ghost tattoo” syndrome – Finally, you should know that, in correspondence with the removed tattoo, a sort of shadow called “tattoo ghost” may remain. It can last a few years or even forever.