Laser Tattoo Removal vs. Cover up Tattoos – Which one to choose?
Laser Tattoo Removal
So, you got a tattoo that you thought you would love and now you don’t. It happens to the best of us. But we don’t need to go into that, the problem at hand is what to do about it. The two most common ways people handle this dilemma is to have it removed with laser treatments or get a cover up tattoo. There are positives and negatives to both options.
Laser tattoo removal is not one hundred percent perfect. One must understand how laser removal does the job to understand what the results may be. Here is the simple explanation. All paints, dyes and inks are actually made up from crushed minerals for the most part. Some plants can be used to make dyes but they are not appropriate for long lasting artwork. Only minerals from the earth can withstand the test of time. This means in effect that your tattoo coloring is full of tiny and not so tiny molecular minerals that when hit with light create color. Each mineral has a heat tolerance point. When enough heat is applied the mineral molecule will break up in to smaller pieces that are then absorbed by your body as waste product. It takes about four weeks for your body to absorb this waste product. There are a couple of issues that hopefully come to mind when you consider a laser heating up mineral molecules in your skin.
First some minerals need to be heated up to 300 degrees to break. Yes this is painful. However according to the literature is no more painful that getting tattooed. To keep from scarring you by burning, the process of breaking up these molecules has to be done slowly and with many visits. Laser technology has not yet reached a point where one device can be adjusted to address all of the different colors in your tattoo. Apparently darker colors are easier to break up than lighter colors of ink. So if you have an all black tattoo you may have better odds.
However, there are a number of other variables that come into play. They are: age of tattoo, age of your skin, type and color of skin, size of tattoo, colors in the tattoo, your immune system, and exposure to sun and after care of each laser treatment. It also depends if your tattoo was inked by a professional or an amateur. What that really means is; how deep did they go? What was the quality of the ink that they used? It appears that no matter what, a large percentage of people take some damage to their melanin, which is responsible for putting the natural color in your skin. Not only does the laser break up the tattoo pigment molecules it affects the melanin in the same area. This will possibly cause what appears to be scarring or a lightening of the area where the tattoo was leaving a ghost like imprint of the tattoo. On the other hand the opposite could happen and you could end up with a darker area where the tattoo was removed. This topic you will need to discuss with your dermatologist.
Laser tattoo removal can cost a couple of thousand to many thousands of dollars depending on the tattoo and the number of times you must repeat the treatment. Average treatment visits are six to 10 times all divided by about six weeks in between. It’s a lengthy process. Some people get perfect results and others do not. Only a dermatologist can offer a prediction of the outcome. The bottom line; if you decide on laser tattoo removal, question your dermatologist about the laser device(s) they use. Ask them questions about which laser is best for each color. See if they know what they’re doing. Do some research on your own and get the best bang for your buck.
Cover up Tattoos
For some cover up tattoos may be the answer. For many it may not. There are a couple of reasons it may not be the answer. If you’ve decided you hate tattoos and suffer deep regret because you’ve decided it doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle then obviously cover up tattoos are not for you.
But for those of us who tattooed our first boyfriend’s name proudly on our bottom or shoulder, or any other example similar to this, cover up tattoos could be the answer. However just like laser tattoo removal this option has some problems.
Here are some issues that affect the ability to cover up an unwanted tattoo. Was it done by an amateur or a professional? Again it’s the quality of the ink and the question of how deep did they go? A light black outline tattoo done by an amateur on the surface is much easier to cover up than a fresh one in full blown color done by a professional. In the latter instance, many people start with laser tattoo removal to partially remove the tattoo for easier cover up.
In fact you could say that rather than these two topics versus each other they could work hand in hand in the instance described above. It probably will make no sense to your dermatologist because they are in the business of removing tattoos. But lightening up your tattoo so that it can be covered up will certainly save you tons of money and if you’re a lover of body art and found a fabulous design, free up some new skin for that new design.
- ‘Think before you ink': Tattoo removal on the rise in Houston (khou.com)
- Cosmopolitan: Really Sexy Stuff:The Lowdown on Tattoo Removal (cosmopolitan.com)