What you need to know about tattoo removal

That tattoo on your body, that seemed like a great idea in your twenties? Well, it may not be so appealing anymore. If you’re between 18 and 50 yrs old, it’s likely you’re sporting at least 1, and many of you may have second thoughts. But don’t worry - not all tattoos are forever.

Removing or replacing them with different ones is a growing industry. Consumer Reports explains what works and what’s safe.

Here’s how laser tattoo removal works: Pulses of high-intensity light break up the ink beneath your skin. The laser targets just the tattoo and won’t damage the surrounding tissue. But it usually takes multiple sessions.

It’s the safest and most effective way out there to remove or even lighten tattoos. Stay away from other methods like dermabrasion or surgical excision. But laser removal can have down sides. Sometimes painful - it may cause infection - or scarring. It’s less effective on legs or feet - or if you’re a smoker. And it can cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, because these procedures are not covered by insurance.

States vary widely for clinic owners and laser operators when it comes to requiring medical credentials. Consumer Reports says be careful where you have your tattoos removed - and recommends using physicians experienced in laser surgery.