How to Remove a Tattoo

Two Methods:Using Professional Tattoo RemovalUsing Alternative Remedies (Unverified)

So there's glitter all over your room, pink flamingos in the pool, you smell like a minibar, and that hickey-or-is-it-a-bruise turns out to be a tattoo. If you're looking to forget last Friday night, and remove an unwanted tattoo, there are several methods you can try. Professional methods, though expensive, are far more effective than home remedies and highly recommended.

Method 1
Using Professional Tattoo Removal

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    Consider laser surgery by a reputable dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. Laser tattoo removal is one of the few methods of tattoo removal that does not involve cutting into the skin and instead uses pulses of light at a very high concentration to remove the tattoo.[1]
    • Your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon will have an initial consultation with you to discuss your treatment options, including how many laser session will be required to remove your tattoo.[2] Thought considered one of the most effective and safest ways to remove a tattoo, laser tattoo removal can cause scarring, blisters or scabbing, as well as pain in the lasered area.[3]
    • Patients are normally given a local anesthetic gel prior to undergoing the laser treatment.
    • Keep in mind professional tattoo removal is considered a cosmetic procedure and will likely not be covered by medical insurance.[4]
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    Ask your dermatologist about dermabrasion. In this procedure, your skin will be sprayed with a numbing solution and then sanded down to reveal the unblemished layers of skin underneath the tattoo.[5] This will also allow the tattoo ink to leach out of your skin.[6]
    • You will be given a local anesthetic for this procedure. Bleeding usually occurs and the process can be painful.
    • This method will also set you back upwards of $1000, depending on the size of your tattoo.[7]
    • You'll be sore for a little over a week (or 10 days) after the procedure and will likely be given an ointment to treat the affected area. Keep in mind that like laser removal, dermabrasion may not completely remove the tattoo.[8]
    • This procedure is not recommended if you are prone to scarring or hypo-pigmentation.[9]
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    Talk to your doctor about surgery. If your tattoo is small, you may be able to actually remove it (and the skin) entirely.[8]
    • During this procedure, your doctor will take a scalpel and remove it, cinching the edges of the skin together, forming a small scar.
    • If your tattoo is large, this is still an option, but it will take several treatments and possibly a skin graft to remove it.[7]
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    Ask your doctor about cryosurgery and chemical peels. In cryosurgery, the tattoo is frozen and burned off with liquid nitrogen. Chemical peels are similar in that they are applied to the skin, causing it to blister, and subsequently peel off.[10]
    • Be aware that cryosurgery and chemical peels may not remove the tattoo completely, and can be very painful procedures. As well, they are not as effective as laser treatment.[11]
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    Choose a removal method that works for your specific tattoo. The effectiveness of any professional method is dependent on the abilities of the professional, your skin type and color, your tattoo, and your tattoo artist. Before you go into any procedure, it's important to collect as much information as possible about the best removal option for your specific tattoo.
    • All of these methods will most like result in a scar. But, a scar may be preferable to the tattoo.
    • It may be worth saving your money and investing in professional tattoo removal to ensure you get the best removal results and lessen the risk of scarring or damage to your skin.
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    Research your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon. They must be a licensed professional and have good references and referrals. If possible, ask your family doctor to refer you to a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon who specializes in tattoo removal.[12]

Method 2
Using Alternative Remedies (Unverified)

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    Try using salt, or salabrasion. Salabrasion is the term for rubbing a salt solution onto your skin, thereby heating it, and scraping the top layers of skin away, as well as the unwanted tattoo.[13]
    • Salabrasion is an ancient method for removing tattoos, first developed in the Middle East, but modern methods like selective laser removal and dermabrasion are much more effective at removing the tattoo and will prevent excessive scarring of the affected area.[14]
    • The rubbing of your skin with salt will lead to damage to the top layers of your skin or epidermis, as well as very visible scarring. This method can be detrimental to sensitive skin and is not a verified remedy for removing a tattoo successfully.[15]
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    Research removal creams. Removal creams are the cheapest and least painful method of tattoo removal: however, their effectiveness depends on regular, diligent use. The Tattoo Removal Institute recommends a couple different creams that may be effective, including TatBGone and Tattoo-OFF.[7]
    • These creams can be expensive and will require 3 to 9 months to fade the tattoo.[16]
    • Keep in mind creams are not as effective as professional removal methods and should be used with caution.
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    Be aware of the dangers of using an at-home TCA system to remove the tattoo. TCA or trichloroacetic acid can be used as a chemical skin-peeling agent in at-home removal kits, and could lighten the appearance of the tattoo. However, TCA can lead to health risks like serious burns and injuries due to the application of acid on your skin.[17]
    • While at-home removal kits containing TCA and other skin bleaching agents like hydroquinone or alpha arbutin are a cheaper alternative to professional tattoo removal, their effects will be minimal at best and could cause other serious medical issues.[18]


  • The decision to remove your tattoo is a very personal decision and not to be taken lightly. Be cautious and always do your research before removing the tattoo.
  • The alternative remedies mentioned in this article are unverified, and are not highly recommended or as effective as professional removal treatments.[16]

Article Info

Categories: Tattoos and Piercing