According to recent studies, nearly 20% of Americans have a tattoo. And about half of them experience regret. As we age, our bodies and our attitudes change. A tattoo that you thought was cool in your twenties, may seem tacky in your thirties or forties. Tattoos can also limit your ability to get a job or advance in your career. Many people are driven to get rid of unwanted ink designs. In general, most of us are familiar with two options: creams and laser tattoo removal.
Although lasers are recommended as a reliable method, cost is perhaps the biggest concerns. Each session ranges from about $100-$250. According to Real Self, the average amount that a patient will spend for the entire treatment series is $750. However 80% of the patients who reviewed their procedure said that the cost was worth it.
Although pain and scarring are other reasons, there are ways that doctors can mitigate these issues. Therefore, cost is probably the main reason people will first consider creams over laser tattoo removal.
Creams For Getting Rid of Tattoos
Products that claim to get rid of tattoos often post before and after pictures and other forms of convincing messaging. Lazer Cream, which is produced by a company in Scotland even mentions studies (which remain unpublished). Their site asserts that the product breaks up tattoo ink pigment, almost like laser tattoo removal. However when questioned by the Advertising Standards Authority of the United Kingdom, they were not able to provide sufficient details on their research to validate their claims.
According to the Mayo Clinic, tattoo removal creams will fade a tattoo at best. The main ingredients are skin bleaching compounds.They will cause a reduction in the amount of melanin produced, rather than clearing the tattoo ink. Here are some examples:
Hydroquinone lightens the skin by slowing the normal production of melanin. It is used for pigmentation issues like freckles and age spots. This chemical has been banned in many countries due to its toxicity.
Kojic acid works as a de-pigmentation agent. It has proven to be toxic to lab animals. It's toxicity in humans remains uncertain.
Alpha Arbuten is another chemical that also works to lighten the skin and pigmentation spots (e.g. age spots)
Tattoo ink pigment exists as large molecules in the dermis layer below the surface. It is difficult to control the action of chemicals at deeper layers in the skin.
No one should expect that chemicals can actually make tattoo particles small enough for removal.
Also every tattoo removal case is different. Creams cannot account for all the variables that apply to different people.Therefore creams are unreliable and unpredictable
Laser Tattoo Removal
With laser tattoo removal, intense energy is directed very precisely at the ink pigment in the dermis. There are different wavelengths that are used to get rid of different colors. The ink color will absorb this energy and shatter.
Scarring is quite possible in patients with darker skin tones. However, qualified physicians will use appropriate wavelengths that will resist absorption from the skin's melanin. They will also schedule a greater number of sessions to minimize the risk of scarring.
Laser tattoo removal is by far a more reliable way of getting rid of permanent ink compared to creams. Doctors can control factors such as:
1) how deep the energy can penetrate the skin
2) appropriate amount of energy to apply
And under the care of a physician, there is a much higher level of safety
Creams can be a tempting buy for those who want to get rid of their tattoos. However, when considering your complete set of options (e.g. using lasers for tattoo removal ) it is important to ask how and why they work. The best choice will have a logical and clear mechanism of action.