There are many kinds of regrettable tattoos. Whether it’s the name of a lover you no longer love, a design that didn’t turn out how you expected, or a foreign language phrase that turned out to mean something entirely different than you expected, that shameful mark doesn’t need to stick with you forever.
Here’s an overview of your options for removing your bad ink.
Get It Covered Up
If you’re not opposed to having a larger or darker tattoo in the place where your unwanted tat currently resides, having it covered up is one of the easiest ways of dealing with it. Particularly if it’s something like an ex-boyfriend’s name, it should be fairly easy to think of a design that can completely obscure the old one.
If you have several tattoos and just want to do away with the ugly memory of one of them, this is the way to go. Find a trusted tattoo artist, make sure they know you’re trying to totally conceal your old tattoo, and be done with it.
Laser tattoo removal works by breaking up the pigment in your bad tattoo into smaller particles. Which are then absorbed by the body, ending up in excretions or other tissues. This is done with pulses of intense laser energy that shoots through the outer layer of skin and into the ink-soaked lower layer.
Different wavelengths of lasers are required for different colors of ink, meaning multi-colored tattoos will require multiple lasers and cost more.
Laser removal is even more painful than getting a tattoo. Laser treatments takes a long time, often requiring 6-10 treatments with a week of healing time between them. And treatments can cost as much as $800, with no guarantee that one (or more) will do the trick. Laser removal can also leave permanent scarring.
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
Similar to laser removal, this new technique uses high-intensity light with a gel applied to the skin. It’s less painful and said to be more effective than laser removal, but can cost even more money.
As it’s a relatively new technique, there’s not much information on its actual efficacy. Just like laser removal, the businesses administering these treatments won’t give you any kind of guarantee.
This method of removal makes lasers sound like a walk in the park. Dermabrasion is just what it sounds like, abrading the surface of your skin to wear away the epidermis and literally sand off your tattoo. It’s almost guaranteed to leave scars, but it’s popular in countries where laser removal isn’t an option.
Ointments and Creams
While there are several DIY tattoo removal treatments available on the Internet, none of them are approved by the FDA, meaning they could cause rashes or other negative side effects. There’s also no evidence to support their efficacy, so try these products at your own risk. Be prepared to waste your money!
Unfortunately, there’s just not that many options for getting rid of an unwanted tattoo. If you’re not willing to have it covered up, you’re stuck with a range of options that are painful and costly. But if your tattoo is that bad, you might be willing to try them all.