It is estimated that close to 25% of the U.S population has a tattoo. Eventually, as many as 50% of individuals with tattoos may want to have their tattoos removed.
There is good news for those who have an unwanted body design. Laser tattoo removal methods can remove or lighten your tattoo with few side effects. Lasers remove tattoos by breaking up the pigment colors with a high-intensity light beam. Black tattoo pigment absorbs all laser light, making it easier to treat. Patients with previously treated tattoos– by other treatment methods other than lasers– may benefit from laser therapy. These tattoos may respond well to laser therapy as long as prior treatments did not cause a lot of scarring.
What can I expect during the laser tattoo removal?
Depending on the size and color of your tattoo, the number of treatments will vary. Your tattoo may be removed in 4 to 6 visits, although many more sessions might be needed. During this appointment, our trained professionals will evaluate your personal situation and inform you about the process.
Treatment with the laser varies from patient to patient depending on the age, size, and type of tattoo (amateur or professional). The color of the patient’s skin, as well as the depth the tattoo pigment extends, will also affect the removal technique.
The treatment itself consists of placing a handpiece against the surface of the skin and activating the laser light. Many patients’ describe the pulses as feeling like the snap of a rubber band against the skin. Smaller tattoos require fewer pulses; larger ones require more. In either case, the tattoo requires several treatments and multiple visits. After each treatment, the tattoo should become lighter.
Most patients do not require any anesthesia. However, depending on the location of the tattoo and the patient’s ability to endure pain, we do offer a topical anesthesia cream. Immediately after treatment, an ice pack is applied to soothe the treated area. The patient will then be asked to apply a topical antibiotic cream or ointment. A bandage or patch will be used to protect the site. The treated area should also be covered with a sun block when in the sun.
Is laser tattoo removal safe?
Thanks to laser technology, treatment of tattoos with laser systems has become much more effective with very little risk of scarring. Laser treatment is often safer than many traditional methods (excision, dermabrasion) because of its unique ability to selectively treat pigment involved in the tattoo. (Excision cuts out the tattoos using a surgical knife [scalpel]. Dermabrasion uses tools to sand off the upper layers of skin.) In many cases, certain colors may be better able to be removed than others. It is known that blue/black tattoos respond particularly well to laser treatment. Treatment should be 6 to 8 weeks apart.
*Patient before and after a series of laser tattoo removal*