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You were young, spontaneous and in your prime. That tattoo didn’t seem like such a bad idea, or something you’d regret in the long run. But now, the sight of it is a permanent reminder of a massive youthful mistake. Sh*t happens. Now what? Well sis, you have options.

With the current rise in celebrities getting tattoos on their face, a la Amber Rose’s

forehead ink, we spoke to Board-certified plastic surgeon and RealSelf.com contributor, Dr. David Shafer, who broke down the cost of tattoo removal as well as other options that may save you money.

HB: What are the options for removing your tattoo?

Dr. David Shafer: The best option is to not get the tattoo on you face in the first place.  People should think long and hard about the long term ramifications of having a tattoo on their face.  However, once they have made the mistake, they have four options: keep the tattoo, get a new tattoo to cover the original one, laser tattoo removal or surgical tattoo excision.

HB: What tattoos do people most get removed?

Dr. David Shafer: I had a patient one time that had her boyfriend’s name tattooed along her entire arm.  The next day he broke up with her and she realized she made a huge mistake.  So, definitely don’t get a tattoo someone’s name that may not remain in your life such as a boyfriend or girlfriend.  If you are going to do a name, maybe get your kid’s name.  Other mistake tattoos are those representing a face or other highly detailed picture.  If the artist is not highly-skilled, you will be left with a cartoonish rendition of what you were expecting.  Also, the body changes over time with weight loss and skin laxity, so pictures can become distorted over time.

HB: Are these options friendly for POC, especially dark skin people?

Dr. David Shafer: Darker skin is tough. Laser is best on lighter skin since the pigment in dark skin can also attract the laser energy and cause burn injury to the skin. We like our Picoway laser from Syneron Candela which can often be used safely on darker skin types.

HB: What is the process of laser tattoo removal?

With laser tattoo reduction/removal, the laser energy is transferred to the tattoo pigment. The pigment is broken up and the body’s natural healing mechanisms remove the pigment fragments.  However, there are many factors which can affect the laser effect such as the skin type, the tattoo ink quality, the depth of the ink in the skin and the color of the ink.

HB: How much does it cost and how long does it take to be fully effective?

Dr. David Shafer: Depending on the tattoo color/quality and the location/depth of the tattoo it can take anywhere from four to 10 treatments. There is no way to guarantee patients the number of treatments or even if the tattoo can be completely removed.

HB: What are the dangers?

Dr. David Shafer: It is very important to go to a laser tattoo specialist under the supervision of a doctor such as a plastic surgeon or dermatologist.  While lasers are generally safe and very effective, in inexperienced hands or when patients are not screened properly patients can be burned or injured.

See before and after tattoo removal photos, here.

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