Tattoo Removal DIYs - Are They Really a Good Idea?

James E. Murphy, MD Jul 12, 2017

Cool Tattoo — Beard Man with Tattoos in Reno, NV

According to the Harris Poll, 29% of Americans have a tattoo. Of those with ink, 69% have two or more tattoos. Just because you fall into the tattooed category doesn't mean you want to stay as part of this statistic. Even if you absolutely adored your body art when you got it, things may have changed.

Maybe it has your ex's name in it. Maybe it's a design you no longer want to look at. Maybe the quality is subpar. Or maybe having a visible tattoo just doesn't make sense anymore. Whatever your reason is, you want to remove your ink. You've heard there are tons of DIY options that don't involve machines or lasers - but do they really work?

If you're considering an at-home tattoo removal, keep reading to check out why you might want to skip these so-called remedies.

Removal Creams

They're expensive and claim to have miracle-like benefits. So, do they really work? That mega-sized price tag may make you think that the cream, lotion, or potion must work. Before you run out and buy a fancy cream to slather on your ink, take a moment to think about how deep that tattoo goes.

The tattoo ink isn't on the surface. It rests well below the surface, in the dermis. Most creams don't penetrate deeply enough to truly get to the ink. Even though you may see some fading, you won't have clear skin where the tattoo once was.

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion, usually advertised as a facial treatment, is a noninvasive treatment that supposedly smooths and evens out the look of your skin. Typically, it's used to get rid of age spots, perk up dull-looking skin, or reduce the appearance of acne scars.

To get it done right, it's important to go to a qualified professional, but there are also plenty of DIY dermabrasion kits sold for at-home use. While these are marketed primarily as facial products, some people wonder if they also help to remove tattoos.

Dermabrasion procedures remove the top layer of skin. However, it has already been pointed out that your tattoo's ink isn't on the surface. One dermabrasion treatment won't do much other than give you smooth, or possibly irritated, skin in the area.

Scary Chemical Alternatives

One of the most dangerous at-home tattoo removal solutions is using caustic chemicals. The idea is that the chemical will burn the tattoo off or destroy the skin on top of it. The problem is that many of these chemicals aren't made for tattoo removal. What kinds of chemicals do people use to remove tattoos? The answer depends.

Some people try chemicals that are basically facial acid peels. These will make the skin smooth and even in tone, but they aren't strong enough to remove a tattoo's ink. While these aren't entirely dangerous, they're not completely safe for tattoo removal either.

Of course, there are even more dangerous chemicals. Using a harsh or abrasive cleanser or any other "cleaning" type of chemical is never okay when it comes to tattoo removal. These are seriously dangerous and can cause permanent damage to your body.

To get a professional consultation and learn more about having effective medical tattoo removal performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, call Dr. James Murphy at 775-322-3454 to arrange a consultation.

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