If you’re planning to remove an unwanted tattoo, it’s important to find a safe, reliable, and effective method so you’ll not only have the tattoo removed completely but also avoid complications.
Laser tattoo removal and tattoo excision are the most common methods for removing tattoos thoroughly.
So how does each of the methods work, and how do they compare to each other?
What Are Tattoo Excision and Laser Tattoo Removal?
- – Tattoo Excision
This method removes tattoos by direct surgical excision, which is the process of cutting out the skin that contains the tattoo with a scalpel. A local, regional, or general anesthesia is often used, depending on the size of the tattoo. The skin around the tattoo is then stitched together to close the wound. This method is best for small tattoos and may not be feasible if the area is too large.
- – Laser Tattoo Removal
This FDA-approved procedure uses lasers of various wavelengths to break down ink particles of the corresponding colors in a tattoo over a series of treatment sessions. The smaller molecules are then removed by the body’s immune system, causing the tattoo to fade over time.
The Pros and Cons of Tattoo Excision vs. Laser Tattoo Removal
Tattoo excision is a one-time surgical process during which a plastic surgeon removes a tattoo using a scalpel. The procedure usually takes one to several hours, depending on the tattoo’s size and the surgeon’s repair method. Then, it typically takes several weeks for the surgery site to heal.
It takes about a year to remove a tattoo completely using laser tattoo removal. Treatment sessions are spaced no less than six weeks apart. Most people require an average of eight sessions, depending on the combination of lasers used, depth and density of the tattoo, ink composition, ink location, as well as the health and lifestyle of the individual. All of these factors directly affect how well the immune system functions.
After tattoo excision, you’ll need to leave the bandages in place for 48 hours. Once you have removed the bandages, the surgical site should be cleaned with soap and water every day. You can apply an ointment prescribed by your surgeon to aid the healing and prevent infection. You should also keep the site clean and out of the sun for at least two weeks.
Since the healing process after laser tattoo removal depends on the body’s immune system, you need to support the body’s overall health post-treatment, e.g., by eating a proper diet, exercising, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. You should also clean the treatment area daily, cover the area with a bandage if necessary, wear sun protection, and avoid hot water.
You can expect to experience some scarring after tattoo excision. However, if you follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions, you can reduce the risk of severe scarring. Also, don’t pick at the excision site and avoid strenuous activities that could stretch the area right after surgery. The scar will typically fade over time.
The goal of laser tattoo removal is 100% clearance, but it’s not always possible due to the body’s ability to remove the ink particles completely. If you keep your body in good overall health, use a reputable laser tattoo removal service, and follow the proper aftercare procedures to prevent hyper- or hypopigmentation, you may not experience any scarring or damage.
The cost of tattoo excision surgery is typically lower than other methods, ranging from $150 to $350 depending on the tattoo site and the size of the design. However, the cost of tattoo excision can be more expensive than other methods if the tattoo is very large.
Laser tattoo removal costs around $200 to $500 per treatment session, and most people need an average of eight sessions to complete the process. The price depends on several factors, such as the type and extent of the tattoo, as well as the technician’s expertise and training.
Other Tattoo Removal Methods
Although there are a few other tattoo removal methods, they often don’t work as effectively as tattoo excision or laser tattoo removal:
- – Dermabrasion
This method uses a medical grinding tool to remove the outer layers of the skin that contain the ink particles over the course of a few treatment sessions. The procedure is painful and creates an open wound that can lead to severe infection. In addition, the lack of precision often leads to excessive amounts of skin being often removed.
- – Chemical Peels
Acid peels, such as trichloroacetic acid (TCA,) are used to remove the outer layers of the skin along with the tattoo ink. This procedure is mildly painful and creates an open wound that could lead to infection. The method is often not completely effective, and if the chemicals aren’t applied properly, you could experience severe chemical burns and permanent scarring.
- – Tattoo Removal Creams
These creams can cause more skin damage than most other methods because of their varying quality. They are often used without professional supervision. They can’t reach the dermis layer where the ink is deposited while causing itching, peeling, and permanent scarring. Although the tattoo may fade slightly, this method isn’t effective at fully removing a tattoo.
Finding Tattoo Excision Near You
Tattoo excision is a surgical procedure, and you should work with a certified medical professional to achieve optimal results by minimizing the risk of infection and scarring. You should also talk to a few surgeons to seek out their opinions, request to see before/after pictures, and ask for patient testimonials to ensure that they can help you achieve the results you want.
For NYC tattoo removal, you can visit our Lower Manhattan office, where Dr. Bastidas has recently joined us to provide tattoo excision service. We can help you analyze your tattoo and recommend the best tattoo removal treatment method for you.