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Today, an estimated 40 million Americans have tattoos and nearly half of them regret their initial choice. The history of tattoos and body markings is extensive. The earliest known tattoos on the human body date back to 2000 B.C. In 1991, the discovery of the “Iceman” from the Italian-Austrian area has what seems to be tattoo patterns, suggesting that tattoos have been around for over 5,200 years! Tattoos and skin art have been used to exemplify declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, social status, and even used as forms of punishment. We understand that unwanted and embarrassing tattoos may be causing you unnecessary stress and anxiety and we have the tools and latest treatments to help you.
During the initial consultation with one of our dermatologists, you will have a discussion about which mode of removal best suits your particular tattoo and comfort level. You will be asked to give a complete medical history, including the use of any medications, drugs, alcohol, or medical conditions that may affect how the skin heals. Your tattoo may be examined for size, color, and location. This information will allow our doctors to estimate how many treatments it will take to remove the tattoo and what type of results to expect. Most tattoos are removed in two to six treatments. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask our doctors any questions and express any concerns that you may have.
As mentioned above, the ink in a tattoo absorbs light from a laser and fragments. Dark colors, such as black and dark blue are most easily removed as they absorb the most light, similar to wearing black clothing on a hot summer day. Light colored tattoo ink such as yellow and violet may be more difficult to remove. In addition, the removal of tattoos by a professional artist that uses higher quality ink, may call for eight to twelve treatments or more, while a tattoo created by an amateur artist may be removed in less treatments.Alternative methods of tattoo removal include excision (cutting out the tattoo)or chemical abrasion or dermabrasion.
Lasers have been used to remove tattoos since the late 1980’s. However, the procedure has only recently been perfected. Lasers emit a concentrated beam of light. Our dermatologists adjust the laser for each individuals skin tone and the color of the tattoo ink. The beam of light from the laser will disrupt the ink and break the ink down into small fragments. Some of the ink may flake off the surface of the body, while most will fall into the blood stream. The body’s immune system will remove the fragments of ink, leaving a tattoo-free surface and minimal scarring.
Laser removal is considered the best method for tattoo removal as lasers are extremely efficient and precise, minimizing the risk to surrounding skin. Our doctors can vary the laser’s wavelengths and pulse durations catering to different colored tattoos and various skin tones. During the treatment, our doctors may use a a combination of lasers to suit your particular needs in order to achieve the best possible results. The procedure can last from 5 to 45 minutes depending on the size and color of the tattoo(s). The feeling of the laser on the skin has been described by patients as a rubber band snapping on the skin or “no worse than getting the tattoo itself!” Our doctors take great care to ensure your comfort, so before treatment they may numb the area with a topical anesthetic cream.
Depending on the tattoo size, color, and which laser is utilized, the treated area may turn white and swell immediately following treatment. Pinpoint bleeding may also occur, but usually heals usually within seven to ten days. It is unusual to remove a tattoo without it resulting in some skin changes.As mentioned earlier, different skin tones and ink colors absorb different light wavelengths. In an effort to maximize results, our offices utilize a variety of lasers including Q-switched lasers, Ruby, Nd: YAG, Alexandrite as well as others.