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Surgical vs laser tattoo removal

Do you have a tattoo which you now regret and want to remove? This is becoming an ever increasingly popular decision, with more and more people undergoing tattoo removal every year. Fortunately, there are many options which you can pursue to remove the tattoo. Many people will decide the best option is to cover up the tattoo with another tattoo, or will seek a less permanent option, such as covering the tattoo with makeup.

However, for those who want to remove their tattoo, you may be interested in surgical tattoo removal or laser tattoo removal. So what does each procedure involve, and which is the right option for you?

Surgical tattoo removal

Surgical tattoo removal will involve an incision which will go around the tattoo. This will allow for the tattoo to be surgically removed. The remaining skin is then pulled together and stitched shut. If the tattoo is particularly large, you may require multiple surgeries. One area can be removed, and you will be given enough time to heal before the remainder of the tattoo is removed. Some people may also require a skin graft. This involves taking skin from a donor area of the body. This is then grafted onto where the tattoo was to help fill the gap.

There are numerous benefits to undergoing surgical tattoo removal, including:

  • Most cost-effective option
  • This is a quick procedure which will often only take one or two procedures to remove the tattoo
  • Allows you to avoid any pain felt during a laser tattoo removal session
  • Can completely remove the tattoo, and you are not left with an outline or any remainder of the tattoo

Before you undergo surgical tattoo removal, it is important to have realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve. You will be left with a scar following the procedure. This will be more noticeable directly after the procedure and will fade with time, however, it will still be visible. However, surgical tattoo removal is often considered an attractive option for those who are wishing to achieve more immediate results.

Before undergoing surgical tattoo removal, you will need to have a consultation with a surgeon, who will be able to assess your tattoo. Many tattoos are unsuitable for surgical removal, due to their size or the location on the body.

Laser tattoo removal

If you do not wish to undergo a surgical procedure, you may be more interested in laser tattoo removal.

Laser tattoo removal uses light pulses which pass through the skin and are absorbed by the tattoo. This then causes the tattoo to break up into smaller pigments. These pigments are then naturally absorbed by the body and passed out of your system. This procedure is repeated over numerous sessions until the tattoo is removed.

At Centre for Surgery, we use Fotona’s Q-Switch Nd: YAG to remove tattoos. This laser has multiple wavelengths, which make it suitable for removing every tattoo colour, and can be used on every skin type. The wavelengths in this laser are:

  • 1064nm Nd: YAG, used to remove dark ink
  • 532nm KTP used to remove red, orange, purple and tan ink
  • 650nm used to remove green ink
  • 585nm used to remove light blue ink

The benefits of undergoing laser tattoo removal include:

  • It is a non-surgical procedure, so there is no anaesthetic used
  • You will have no downtime and will be able to resume your usual daily routine straight away
  • There are no incisions involved, so you will have no scars
  • This is a relatively straightforward procedure and therefore has a high success rate

Unlike surgical tattoo removal, laser tattoo removal may take a longer period of time for you to be able to see the results. Depending on the size, location and colours of your tattoo, it may take six if not more sessions to remove your tattoo. You will have to wait at minimum four weeks between each removal session. This allows the body enough time to break down the tattoo and remove the pigments from the body.

Laser tattoo removal may also leave you with what is known as a ‘ghost’ tattoo. This means a light outline of the tattoo will still be on the skin. This will not happen in all cases, however, it is important to consider before undergoing tattoo removal.

Your surgeon will assess your tattoo to see if it will be able to be removed via a laser, or if surgical removal is a better option for you.

So which is the best option for me?

One option is really not better than the other – which option is best for you will all come down to personal preference. Many people are in a hurry to get rid of a tattoo and will opt for surgical removal. However, others will be wanting to avoid surgery and will not want a noticeable scar, and will instead opt for laser removal.

Prior to making a decision, ensure you weigh up the pros and cons of both options. Do your research on the clinic and the surgeon and find out what laser they use for tattoo removal. Not all lasers will be suitable for all colours and skin types. Your surgeon will be able to advise you on which is the best option for you and which will best help you reach your end goals.

Are you interested in surgical or laser tattoo removal? These are options which Centre for Surgery currently offers. Contact us today to find out more or to book a consultation. 

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