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Since 2004, we’ve met many patients from Long Beach, CA, and from surrounding areas, who come to us to discuss laser tattoo removal because they’ve been swindled with other tattoo removal gimmicks. There are two in particular that we hear all the time, so we thought we’d set the record straight on these for you here.
First, let us say that as tattoos have become more popular, more and more removal gimmicks have come out targeting those who just don’t want their tattoo anymore. And trust us, we get it. When you’re over a tattoo, you want it gone and you don’t want to spend a lot to get rid of it. If this sounds familiar, then this page is for you. Understanding what’s effective and what isn’t in terms of tattoo removal will ultimately save you two of your most precious resources: your time and money.
The first of these two gimmicks is called “Wrecking Balm”. It is a two-step, mail order system that claims to be a safe and effective alternative to laser tattoo removal. It is based on hydroquinone, a “bleaching” agent for the skin combined with a microdermabrasion-like mechanism. You need to understand that hydroquinone is a medication that slows down the production of melanin, the skin’s natural pigment, which gives it color. Hydroquinone cannot “remove” tattoo ink. It has no ability to “break-up” ink particles and cannot even penetrate the skin to the level where the tattoo ink is. The same is true for the “microdermabrasion”. While this may exfoliate the top few cell layers, there is no capability of this product reaching the deeper epidermis and dermis where tattoo ink is deposited. In short, “Wrecking Balm” is at best misrepresenting it’s capability to remove tattoos, and at worst, flat-out fraudulent claiming it can permanently remove tattoos.
Another treatment that you may have heard of is TCA peeling for tattoo removal. TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid, a powerful chemical skin-peeling agent. While TCA peeling can be very useful for numerous skin conditions, unwanted tattoos are not one of them. Because TCA exfoliates only the outermost layers of skin, it is simply incapable of reaching the levels of the epidermis and dermis where the tattoo ink is.
Also, aggressive TCA peels can produce unwanted side effects such as darkening or lightening of the skin (hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation) and scarring if not used properly or by inexperienced hands.
Again, we understand that you want your tattoo gone and you don’t want to spend a fortune. But by taking your time, educating yourself and doing your homework, we think you’ll find that laser tattoo removal is the safest, most cost effective option to get rid of your tattoo once and for all. We urge you to learn more about this option and don’t get caught up in the hype of hydroquinone and/or TCA-based tattoo “removal” gimmicks—because they really are just that!