The wave of tattoo popularity has risen and receded many times in different cultures and eras, and the current wave in the UK and U.S. may be now retreating. There are an estimated 5 million Brits with tattoos at present, and according to surveys up to 50% of them are apparently feeling some regret about having them done.
As recently as the 1980’s, if you had a tattoo it was yours for life. Today there are a few options you can consider if you wish to partially or completely remove a tattoo. The most popular and probably most effective method is laser removal. This process breaks the ink down into fragments that can be expelled from the skin by the body’s immune system. Depending on factors such as the age, size and colour of your tattoo, as many as ten or even more laser treatments may be required for satisfactory removal.
The cost of laser removal can be quite high, both in physical pain and damage to your wallet. The sensation has been likened to being splattered with hot oil. The more treatments you receive, the more damage is done to the skin; often painful blisters and sometimes permanent scarring are the result.
The newest procedure uses IPL or Intense Pulsed Light instead of a laser, but it works in approximately the same manner. This method is reported to be less painful and somewhat quicker than laser removal, but is usually priced by the pulse. At a cost of five pounds or more for a single pulse, ten to fifteen pulses per session minimum, and three sessions required at the very least, the cost of removal for a large tattoo can be prohibitive.
Less costly but also less effective are the various do-it-yourself products currently on the market. Most of them have not proved to work as advertised, and some can cause serious damage. You should be very cautious with any of these products, and do not believe any claims of “easy, painless and complete” removal of your tattoo. If you are only interested in fading the ink, some are at least partially successful.
Surgical removal is a last resort, and is not even an option for most people. In many cases just covering the area with special makeup or a new tattoo is the cheapest and safest way to retract your undying love for Sharon who you have not seen in fifteen years.