Tramp stamp, messed up writing, the name of the ex-boyfriend: Often the once so beloved tattoo is eventually just embarrassing – and must go! But not every tattoo can be lasered off without any problems. Among other things, the tattoo color determines whether the removal actually succeeds. Tikbow presents methods, costs and risks of laser treatment.
Actually, the tattoo should decorate the skin forever and ever. Actually. But one’s own taste changes. And sometimes the partner whose name adorns your upper arm has long since passed, the style has changed, and the tattoo is a bad memory. So it must go away again. Möglich is that – but anything but simple.
Many methods of tattoo removal are outdated and dangerous.
In the past, tattoos were ground off until they were no longer visible. Today, this method is rarely used. This is because it creates a wound that can easily become infected and later lead to scars. The same is true of the procedure of having lactic acid injected under the skin with the aim of removing color pigments. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) advises against this method. The cutting out of skin tissue by a surgeon also carries the risk of infection with scarring. "This method is not suitable for large tattoos and sensitive areas with very thin tissue on arms and legs that heal only slowly", says Christiane Manthey from the Verbraucherzentrale Baden-Württemberg in Stuttgart. The most common method for tattoo removal is a laser treatment. But even this method is anything but safe.
Dangers of laser tattoo removal
"With the removal of a multicolored Tattoos several laser types are used combined", describe the specialist for Dermatologie Professor Christian Raulin of the Karlsruher laser clinic. The lasers are directed at the skin from a short distance and emit a barely visible but very intense flash of light. This flash of light penetrates the skin and shatters the pigments into countless fragments.
In the process, the pigments often lose their color. Some of the broken pieces enter the lymphatic system and are excreted via the kidneys and intestines. The problem: Another part remains in the body. Scientists at the BfR have discovered that these fragments can be toxic or carcinogenic. They discovered that laser treatment of pigment blue can produce carcinogenic fission products such as benzene and benzonitrile, as well as the cell toxin blue acid. If large amounts of liquid are subjected to laser treatment, there is a risk that concentrations may arise that lead to cell damage in the skin. "Such risks must be pointed out in detail during the consultation before the procedure", says Manthey.
Where can I carry out such a treatment?
Since the end of 2020, the treatment may only be carried out by experienced dermatologists specializing in laser treatments or by specialists in plastic and cosmetic surgery, not in beauty salons. At least theoretically, tattoos could contain malignant skin changes such as melanoma. Such changes can only be diagnosed by a specialist. If the tattoo is to be removed by laser treatment, the doctor should be qualified for laser medical treatments. This can be, for example, graduates of the international advanced training course DALM (Diploma in Aesthetic Laser Medicine).
But you can not get rid of every colored motif.
Experts cannot promise that every tattoo can be completely removed. In the case of multi-colored and large tattoos, laser removal is often not one hundred percent possible. According to Raulin, a tattoo in black or red can usually be removed easily, and blue and green are also feasible. The situation is different for yellow, brown and violet: "These colors are usually impossible to get rid of again." Basically, the laser removal of tattoos often works better for fair-skinned people: "With darker skin types, there is a risk that light spots will form at the tattoo site after the treatment, which will stand out clearly from the rest of the skin, " says Raulin.
Tattoo removal with laser – painful and expensive
The procedure is also not painless. Before a treatment the physician can apply a Betäubungscreme. After laser treatment, scars may appear on the affected area of skin," explains Raulin. However, these scars are not necessarily a result of the laser treatment. They may have been caused by the needles during the procedure and may have been virtually invalidated by the color. They only become visible after the color pigments have been destroyed by the laser.
During the laser treatment, the skin initially becomes irritated, but then calms down again. In exceptional cases, scabs form. In a period of two to three years, there are approximately 15 treatments or even more,” says Raulin. Between the individual meetings a temporal distance is nötig, so that the skin can regenerate sufficiently. Ruckzuck one does not become an unloved Tattoo thus again rid.
And it’s not cheap either: Depending on the size of the tattoo, the cost per session is between 80 and 500 euros. Patients pay for this themselves, and only in exceptional cases does the health insurance fund cover it. If the costs or perhaps the risks of removal are too high, there are only two options: continue living with the tattoo or replace the old tattoo with a new one.