Dermabrasion: Not Just for Reducing Wrinkles

rose tattooDermabrasion has traditionally been used to resurface the skin to remove the appearance of acne scars and fine lines, especially around the mouth. This is no longer its only purpose. Dermabrasion has grown in popularity as a method for removing tattoos, although it is still not the first-line treatment choice.

Roughly 10 percent of Americans are wearing a tattoo of varying size, color and shape. When a tattoo is created, it is considered to be a permanent form of body art. Interestingly, about 50 percent of people who get tattoos later change their minds, amd seek to have this "permanent art" removed.

Dermabrasion Basics

With dermabrasion, a wire brush or diamond wheel called a burr is used to permanently remove the ink-containing upper layers of the skin or tattoo. The burr abrades the top layers of skin, causing it to bleed and the ink to be destroyed. The depth of the dermabrasion depends upon the selected brush or burr, the rotating speed of the equipment and the pressure applied during the procedure.

Dermabrasion Tattoo Removal

Dermabrasion can be an effective choice of tattoo removal for all skin tones although for many it will cause a permanent change in the skin pigmentation of the treated area.

As the abraded wound heals, there is growth of a new layer of skin to replace the tattooed skin removed during the procedure. New skin regrowth will start to form in 5 to 8 days after the dermabrasion treatment. The redness of the new forming skin usually fades within about 12 weeks.

Dermabrasion is performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient clinic setting. Local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area. Ice packs are usually applied to the tattoo for about 30 minutes before the procedure to further numb the area and firm up the skin.

After dermabrasion tattoo removal, the patient is instructed to wash the area several times a day and apply an antibiotic ointment to keep the area moist and clean. Dermabrasion usually requires more than one visit to satisfactorily remove a tattoo.

The recovery and healing time is based upon the extent of the actual treatment but most patients are able to resume their usual activities shortly after the procedure. Mild pain relievers are used to control the discomfort.

Side effects of tattoo removal include scarring, redness, swelling and hyperpigmentation or increased color of the skin. There is a risk of infection, as there is with any procedure that breaches the skin.

The Results

Several dermabrasion treatments might be needed to effectively remove a tattoo, depending upon its size and the depth of the ink. The results of dermabrasion tattoo removal also depend upon the color of the tattoo ink, and if a variety of colored inks were used to make the tattoo, it might not be fully removed using this technique.

Consulting with a board certified dermatologist will help you determine the best form of tattoo removal that will yield the best results.

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