Tattoo removal has been achieved by a variety of methods in different times. The modern method of laser treatment has now become the most efficient and successful method, but tattoo removal has a long history before the era of laser treatment and other methods continue to find place in the modern science.
These methods are less preferred over the laser treatment either due to the side effects like scarring or their inefficiency yet more research has given rise to methods that are free of effects like scarring and do not involve the use of lasers.
Dermabrasion and surgical excision were the most common methods before the lasers; now these methods are limited to few.
Cover ups as an alternative to tattoo removal:
Instead of going through the removal itself, some people use more tattooing to cover up the old tattoo or alter its design. Based on the expertise of the artist, the old tattoo might completely be invisible or unrecognizable after the remake is finished. This is usually achieved by use of darker tones to hide the old one or parts of the old shades are used to complement the new ones.
Covers up tattoos are also sometimes done after a laser treatment of the old piece to lighten up its shades and add flexibility to the new one. One of the obvious limitations of this method is that the tattoo is essentially just hidden and not removed and the method is not an option for those who aim to completely remove the tattoo.
Use of Q-switched lasers has achieved precise and fast scarless tattoo removal. This has made this process the most common process used. In spite of this, some people might not opt for laser treatment due to skin issues from the side effects. Like other methods, laser treatment is often combined with other methods to compete for the best process. The technological development in the field of lasers and optics has provided such processes with more options and scientific data to research on. Advancement in the general field has enabled the researchers to use the technology to the benefit of this specific process increasing efficiency of the removal and reducing the time take to a fraction of the duration of other methods.
Dermabrasion, being a surgical procedure, requires a proper medical setup in presence of a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon with specific expertise. The process involves wearing the skin away to remove the tattoos along with any scarring that occurs. It is comparable to the laser methods and is thought to be a superior method and providing as good results as the laser treatment with overall low costs.
Dr. Mandy, an expert in the field, contends, “"No laser has been shown to do a better job at accomplishing the end result that dermabrasion does."
This statement can ofcourse be nullified by the further development of laser technology which is taking its course at a high pace in research and development but this has an adverse effect on the net costs of the laser treatment. With the technologies changing at a high pace, the old ones often become obsolete and staying up to date requires re-acquiring the latest equipment and upgrading to the new technology as well as the training involved in the usage. This comes with high costs. Dermabrasion, on the other hand, is a consistent and stable process in terms of advancement and involves lesser upgrading with time. This has encouraged dermatologists in previously or currently using lasers to move away from the field in favour of dermabrasion. On the patient side benefits, it has a shorter healing time than laser treatment.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) use for tattoo removal:
This technique removes the top layers of the skin in order to directly remove the layer with the tattoo ink. Trichloroacetic acid is widely used for this purpose other than cosmetic treatments for chemical peels etc.
Discovered in 1839, the process has added to the advancement in the chemical methods for cosmetic applications.
TCA based tattoo removal is often marketed through “tattoo removing creams” which include TCA. However, the decision to use such products is better rested with dermatologist. This method is often said to have left faded remains of the tattoos instead of completely removing them. This method, though considerably cheap and easy, has side effects in addition to its ineffectiveness; namely it produces frosting over the skin after the peels. This and the scarring have then to be further treated.
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