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Now, tattoo can be removed cheaply

When Sonia Mehta got her boyfriend's name inked on her right arm two-years ago, little did she know that the tattoo she wished to treasure lifelong will soon become a nightmare.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2010 12:51 IST
Aparna

When Sonia Mehta got her boyfriend's name inked on her right arm two-years ago, little did she know that the tattoo she wished to treasure lifelong will soon become a nightmare.

She now wants to get rid of the tattoo desperately since her boyfriend dumped her in December last, but the high cost of the removal -- nearly Rs 50,000 to 80,000 -- is much beyond her pocket and Mehta (name changed) is forced to live with the unwanted bodywork.

But what she missed out is that the help is at hand. A new laser treatment called 'Q-switched Nd-YAG laser', which has been recently introduced at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital (RML) in Delhi, charges only Rs 6,000 for tattoo removal.

"We are the first in Delhi to use Q-switched laser treatment, which is cosmetically superior to older destructive modalities, and it costs just Rs 1,000 per sitting," Said Dr H K Kar, HoD Dermatology, RML Hospital.

"As only six sittings are needed for complete treatment, the total cost of the tattoo removal is only Rs 6,000, which is a meagre amount as compared to that of other hospitals, especially the private ones, which charge nearly Rs 8,000 to 9,000 per sitting," Dr Kar said, adding they also take more sittings.

With the growing trend of tattooing in the country where the amazing body art is smiting not only the youngsters but also even older people slowly, the tattoo removal business is also gaining momentum.

"The simple fact is that people have changes of heart. Nowadays before getting a tattoo, the first thing youngsters ask is, will I be able to remove it, thus the techniques to remove these items are becoming more and more in demand," said Suhash Kothari, who runs a tattoo parlour in the city.

To cash in on the situation, many hospitals are offering laser treatments claiming to have specialists for this purpose, but Kar cautions that laser tattoo removal is not without its risks.

"Not all the treatments like skin peels, various creams, dermabrasion and even some types of laser techniques are so effective. Not only this, if it is done by inexperienced professionals, it can lead to scar and blister the skin," the laser specialist warns.

He said, "Though the latest Q-switched Nd-YAG laser technique is very effective, it is not available everywhere.In the capital, for now, only RML has introduced this technique and other hospitals like AIIMS and Maulana Azad are still in the process of getting it".

The laser technique for scar and tattoo removal purposes was first introduced five years ago in RML and other big hospitals started the treatment later on, he added.

Explaining the treatment methods, the doctor said, "older removal techniques involve chemicals like tannic acid, phenol, sulphuric acid etc which are applied on tattoo mark to destroy the skin, leading to inflammatory reaction and subsequent shedding of pigment along with the peeled skin."

In laser technique, a very high concentrated pulse of light is sent in contact with the skin, he said, adding no methods offer 100 per cent guaranteed removal but the laser treatment is the most effective which makes the design barely noticeable to the eye.

"Though earlier laser technique was unable to delete red and green pigments, the Q-switched laser treatment is equally effective on black, blue, green and red colours," the specialist added.

However, Kar, who had treated hundreds of patients in the last five years, said, still not a large number of people go for the removal of the body art, especially the older ones.

"Though hundreds of people used this new technique for other purposes like congenital or acquired pigmented conditions, melasma, pregnancy marks, birth mark and red spot, only a few of them came for tattoo removal," Kar said.

Agreeing with him, Kotahri said, "Unlike the youth brigade whose choices change frequently, the senior citizens treat their body art as a lifelong asset".

"The cost of tattooing, which starts from around Rs 8,000 per hour could be a factor in people hesitating from losing their body art," he said.