Do you have an embarrassing tattoo you want to remove? There are two popular treatment options available today, but only one of these options actually works. Keep reading to learn more about these cosmetic dermatology treatments in San Diego, CA.

Understanding Pigmentation

Before you can compare the different types of tattoo removal, it’s important to understand how tattoos work. When most people decide to get a tattoo, they understand the idea of permanency, but they don’t understand the science behind the art form. For a tattoo to be permanent, the ink must be placed below the outer layer of skin. The epidermis is the visible outer layer that sheds itself every few days. The second layer–the dermis–is where the ink sits. Your body responds to ink like it would any foreign substance. White blood cells flood the affected area in efforts to remove the foreign object. However, pigment molecules are too big to be broken down by white blood cells, and therefore, the ink remains in place.

Tattoo Removal Creams

On the surface, tattoo removal creams look like a quick and easy way to remove your tattoos without seeing a specialist. However, this is one of those “sounds too good to be true” scenarios. For starters, none of the tattoo removal creams currently on the market are FDA approved; this is your first red flag. If you dig a little deeper into the product description, you’ll notice that none of these products actually claim to remove your tattoo completely. They claim that their products can fade your tattoo, but the ingredients used to produce this effect often have adverse side effects. Trichloroacetic acid is one of the most common ingredients used in removal creams as well as some cosmetics. It works by peeling or burning the epidermis, causing it to shed faster than usual. This burning, however, can also cause skin discoloration, scarring, inflammation, and rashes. Hydroquinone-based creams aren’t as caustic, but they usually aren’t strong enough to penetrate the epidermis. They might cause the tattoo to fade, but they can’t remove it entirely.

Laser tattoo removal

The Laser Advantage

Unlike topical creams, laser treatments reach below the epidermis to speed tattoo removal. Concentrated beams of light are fired from the laser machine into the pigment, causing the molecule to shatter into smaller pieces. White blood cells can then move into the area and digest and void the smaller pigment cells through the natural healing process. Each tattoo will respond differently to laser treatment because pigments respond different to various wavelengths. It will likely take several laser treatments using different wavelengths to remove your tattoo altogether. Tenderness, blistering, inflammation, scarring, and hyperpigmentation are some of the side effects you can expect when you begin laser therapy.

Your Laser Removal Appointment

Wear comfortable clothes that can be easily removed if needed to access the tattoo. Your laser technician will probably give you a pair of eye shields to wear to protect your eyes from residual light. Some patients report a burning sensation at the laser site, but this is usually manageable with an over-the-counter painkiller. Depending on the size of your tattoo, a typical laser removal session can take a little as 15 minutes.

For the best cosmetic dermatology in San Diego, CA, call the experts at Academic & Aesthetic Dermatology Consultants and schedule your tattoo removal today.