Dermabrasion Tattoo Removal - Cosmetic skin scraping to smooth out imperfections

What is Dermabrasion?

Dermabrasion is a cosmetic medical procedure in which the surface of the epidermis of the skin (the stratum corneum) is removed by abrasion (sanding). First the tattooed area is sprayed which causes parts of the skin with the tattoo to freeze. Then an abrasive utensil is applied to the skin. The rough nobs of the utensil sands and skins the skin by turning with hundreds of cycles. The procedure is very painful and usually requires a general anesthetic or partial anesthesia. After the treatment, the skin is very red and raw-looking, and must immediately be dressed because bleeding can occur. It takes several months for the skin to regrow and heal.

How does Dermabrasion Work for Effective Tattoo Removal?

Dermabrasion tattoo removal has to do with sloughing off the top layers of skin as a method of actually removing the ink from the body. This is a method that usually requires repeated sessions of dermabrasion because tattoo ink is usually injected into the lower layers of the skin.

There are different methods used for the removal of the skin layers, and the success rate varies from person to person. The sloughing off of the top layers of skin is designed to remove or lessen the appearance of the ink and encourage new skin to grow in it's place. Of course, that is not always the same for each individual.

Dermabrasion tattoo removal should be done by a licensed plastic surgeon. This is a method of plastic surgery, and no matter how justified you feel the need is for the removal of your ink, chances are that your medical insurance is not going to cover this sometimes very costly and potentially painful medical service.

How is Dermabrasion performed?

The area to be treated is usually first anesthetized with some type of local anesthetic such as Lidocain , anesthetic creams or other local anesthetics.

After numbing this area, it is then frozen with some type of skin refrigerant such as a Nitrogen aerosol spray, liquid Nitrogen, another product called "Frigiderm", or carbon dioxide snow.

This freezing process ensures that the skin to be worked on will be a hard surface rather than a normal skin consistency or texture. Now that this surface is frozen and hard, it is much easier to sand down through the various layers of skin to get to the ink that must be sanded and removed.

The doctor will use some type of abrasive tool such as a small electric sanding disc, wire brush, or a fast spinning diamond fraise wheel to get down through the layers of skin. As it is with many other methods of tattoo removal, dermabrasion does have its risks. The primary risk with dermabrasion is scarring from the procedure itself. Depending on your skin tone, your ability to heal, and the professionalism of the tattoo that you want removed you may have to deal with some scarring or leftover ink as a result of the procedure. This is one of the reasons why many people choose to go with other methods of removal.

How does Dermabrasion Compare?

Dermabrasion is an effective method of removing unwanted tattoos but because each person and each tattoo is different, some tattoos can be harder to remove than others. Professionally applied tattoos are usually more easily removed than amateur tattoos because most amateur tattoos are applied at varying depths underneath the skin. You should bear in mind that some scarring can occur with dermabrasion.

What to Expect When Undergoing Dermabrasion Tattoo Removal

A week or so prior to the procedure you will be asked to avoid taking any aspirin or similar drugs. This is to minimise any bleeding following the procedure. A small area of the tattoo will be numbed with a freezing agent before being abraded with a device called a dermatome, similar in size and appearance to an electric razor, to carefully ‘sand down’ layers of skin. Dermabrasion Tattoo RemovalAs the ink from most tattoos can be deeply imbedded in the layers of the dermis, the dermabrasion process can lead to permanent scars. Bleeding is also likely, so dressings will be applied immediately after dermabrasion to the affected area.

The healing process is usually complete within 2 weeks after the procedure, though some redness may be present for up to 3 months. In the 6 month period after undergoing dermabrasion you may experience a temporary burning sensation with some itching, swelling and redness. The treated area of your skin may be somewhat paler than the non-treated area. In addition, the ‘new’ skin will be acutely sensitivity to the sun and may well be unable to tan. All of these side-effects should be alleviated from 6 months to a year after the procedure has taken place, and then the positive results of the dermabrasion should be permanent. As with all cosmetic procedures, it is essential to follow the advice of your practitioner after the procedure. This will make the outcome as successful as possible and reduce the risk of complications.

Who Should You Get to Perform A Dermabrasion Procedere?

Dermabrasion tattoo removal should only be carried out by a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, or dermatologist, with relevant skills and experience in an establishment registered with the Healthcare Commission (in the UK). The cost of the procedure can be anything from £1,000 to several thousands of pounds depending on the size and nature of the tattoo being removed. If dermabrasion tattoo removal is something that you are considering, you can discuss all of the issues mentioned here in greater depth during a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist.