October 22, 2020

Most tattoos are meant to be permanent, so it might be extremely difficult and painful to completely remove it after getting one. What many people want to know is, does tattoo removal leave scars

The good news is that it is highly unusual for tattoo removal to leave scars. It is even possible for the skin to be restored to its initial state without leaving any trace of pigmentation or scarring in many cases. 

However, there are incidences where there will be some degree of scarring or pigmentation being left behind. Whether a scar will remain after tattoo removal will depend on factors such as: 

  • The size and age of the tattoos 
  • The presence of pre-existing scarring 
  • Its method of removal 

Smaller tattoos are easier to get to rid of compared to bigger ones. The same applies to older tattoos - they are easier to remove because the ink can be broken more easily than in newer tattoos. 


Pre-existing Scarring

It is important to know that most of the scars that remain after tattoo removal can be attributed to the original tattoo and not the removal process itself. Pre-existing scars are a result of the skin damage that occurs when getting a tattoo. 

As the tattoo artist works on your skin with a needle and dye, some skin damage level occurs. The deeper the tattoo is, the more severe the skin damage. This pre-existing scarring usually remains even after the tattoo has been removed.  

To prevent this, seek the services of an experienced tattoo artist. A less experienced tattooist may cause irreparable harm to your skin tissue, which may lead to the development of scars. They may not be easily noticeable because of the ink covering your skin, but the scars become visible once the tattoo is removed. 

In case you notice these pre-existing scars, do not panic. There are many treatments available such as cryotherapy, microdermabrasion, or laser therapy. 


Removal Methods That May Cause Tattoo Scars

Some of the removal methods are usually not very effective and may even predispose you to more scarring. They include;


1. Tattoo Removal Creams


Most of these tattoo removal creams are readily available at low prices. But they are the least effective and potentially most dangerous option available. They contain dangerous acids or bleaching chemicals. And because they are used at home with no guidance from a professional, it is likely they may lead to a lot of harm. 

Some of the adverse skin complications that may arise are:

  •  Itching 
  • Peeling 
  • Pigmentation issues
  • Permanent scarring 

Their effectiveness is also in question. At best, there will be very little change to the pigmentation of your tattoos. This is because they cannot reach the skin’s dermis layer where most of the ink is. Therefore, you cannot rely on creams to get rid of tattoos completely.

 2. Acid Peels and Injections

Acid peels and injections remove tattoos by dissolving the tattooed tissue. This method is very dangerous and may lead to severe chemical burns, which could lead to permanent scars development. The result may be worse than the tattoo itself. 

3. Surgical Tattoo Removal

This involves cutting the tattoo out of your skin using a scalpel and then stitching the skin back together. It is usually done after the administration of a local anesthetic. 

The biggest challenge with this method is that the surgeon cannot remove the tattoo completely. This is because they can’t make deep enough cuts to get to the dermis. The skin’s stitched area will also develop into permanent scars, whose size may vary depending on how big the tattoo is. 

This method would only be appropriate for the removal of tiny tattoos in hidden areas of the body. 

4. Salabrasion and Dermabrasion

Salabrasion is among the oldest tattoo removal methods. It involves using a salt solution and an abrasive device to remove the inked layers of the skin. The salt solution is applied to the tattooed area, which is then scrubbed using the abrasive device until the skin turns deep red. 

After a few days, the dead skin on the scrubbed area begins to peel away, taking the tattoo ink with it. As new skin tissue forms, the remaining pigment continues to fade. 

For dermabrasion, the tattooed layers of the skin are removed using a mechanical rotating device. This causes the ink to seep out of the skin. 

However, these methods are very unpredictable, and there is no guarantee of a positive outcome. Also, they are not accurate and in the tattoo removal process, excessive amounts of the skin may be removed, which could cause pronounced permanent scars. 

Additionally, these methods require multiple treatments and have a long recovery process, which predisposes the skin to infections and scarring. 

predisposes the skin to infections and scarring. 

The Safest and Most Effective Tattoo Removal Method

So now that the tattoo removal methods mentioned above are unsafe and have the potential for scarring, which is the best method then? The recommended option is laser tattoo removal. 

Laser Tattoo Removal

This is the only tattoo removal method that is approved by the FDA. And because it can reach the ink in the dermis layer of the skin, it can completely get rid of the tattoo, albeit after several sessions. 

Laser removal involves the use of a special type of laser technology called Q-switching. It targets all the different pigments within a tattoo and breaks them down until they fade away completely. It is a very accurate method and has a very minimal effect on the surrounding skin area. 

However, it is possible to develop laser tattoo removal scars in some rare cases, especially when the process is not done right. 


Tattoo Removal Keloid Scars

People with a history of keloid scarring are also at risk of developing scars after tattoo removal. A keloid scar typically develops after an injury. It’s usually larger than the wound’s size because scar tissue production continues even after the wound has healed. If you have developed keloid scarring before, you’re at a higher risk of developing it again with every new injury. 

All the above removal techniques can cause keloids to develop where the original tattoo was. And even though laser removal is one of the safest methods of tattoo removal, it can also cause keloid scarring

However, this shouldn’t stop you from removing your tattoo, but you need to get a competent professional. Also, ensure that you religiously follow the aftercare instructions, as discussed below. In case you develop keloids after tattoo removal, there are a variety of tattoo scars removal techniques. 

For the best tattoo removal scars before and after results, you can combine home remedies such as aloe vera with professional treatments such as cryotherapy and silicone gel technology.


Preventing Tattoo Removal Scars

It is important to note that you have a role to play in preventing scarring from tattoo removal. Apart from avoiding the tattoo removal methods that predispose you to scarring, pay attention to the following;

1. Get Qualified Professional

The level of competence and experience of the professional who is removing your tattoo matters a lot. Even laser removal, if not done right, could lead to the development of scars. 

For example, excess heat generation during laser treatment may cause bleeding and ulcerations, leading to scars’ development. Therefore, it is important that you chose a qualified practitioner. 

2. Follow Aftercare Protocol

Aftercare protocol is important as without it scarring may happen. This is because you should expect to experience some side effects irrespective of how effective laser removal is. These side effects include redness, swelling, blistering, scabs, and bruising. 

Although they are temporary, without proper aftercare, the side effects may degenerate into serious complications with the potential for scarring. 

Also, note that the affected area requires time to heal. And, during this healing period, it is susceptible to infections and scarring. Therefore, you should keep it clean and protected always. 

Using antibacterial ointment helps a great deal as it keeps the wound infection-free and speeds up healing.  

Avoid scratching or picking at the affected area even when it becomes itchy. And if there are any blisters, allow the blisters to heal naturally without trying to pop them. Disturbing your skin while it’s trying to heal may lead to infection, which increases the possibility of scarring.

Lastly, shield the previously tattooed area from the sun. Continue doing this way after your last tattoo removal session because the sun may cause blistering and discoloration of the skin. 

This can certainly increase the possibility of scarring. 


Does Tattoo Removal Leave Scars: Conclusion

The removal of tattoos should not automatically lead to scar formation. Scars may only develop if you use the wrong removal methods, such as using creams, salabrasion, dermabrasion, or surgery. The safest and most effective way of removing tattoos is through laser removal. However, this method does not eliminate the possibility of scarring because every patient is different. Fortunately, you can reduce the possibility of scarring by seeking a qualified professional and strictly following the aftercare instructions. I hope that this article answers your question - does tattoo removal leave scars?


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