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Tattoo removal: the right way versus the wrong ways

March 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The tattoo you got years ago seemed like a great idea at the time. But if you now wish it could disappear, you're not alone: 1 in 8 tattooed Americans now regret getting "inked." There's a right way and a wrong way to lose your tattoo.

A growing number of Americans are opting for tattoo removal, which can be a long and laborious process. So now some people are going the do-it-yourself route.

"We had a patient once who had used salt to try to scrub the tattoo off," said dermatologist Dr. Amy Derick.

Some have even tried safety pins to try to poke the pigment out.

Dr. Derick, with the American Academy of Dermatology, has also seen patients try self-removal gels and creams, but she says there's no evidence they work.

"A lot of products have chemicals or ingredients that are irritating to the skin with the hope that the immune system will fight off the pigment that remains," said Derick.

For some, do-it-yourself treatments can cause serious side effects like infection, scarring and skin discoloration.

Laser surgery is considered the "gold standard" for tattoo removal.

It's important to find a qualified and board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

Doctors say successful treatment depends on the size, color, location, and age of your tattoo. It can take months with laser treatment to remove the tattoo successfully.

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