As tattoos have become more popular so has the demand for laser tattoo removal. Laser removal technology has been in use since the 1980s, and is still the best option for those looking to remove an unwanted tattoo.
Tattoos are created with permanent pigments inserted under the skin, so their removal is not an easy process and usually 100% removal is not achievable. The newer laser technology definitely can provide excellent results, but do not expect that the tattoo will be completely removed after one treatment. Multiple treatments are usually required spaced about a month apart. With each consecutive treatment you will notice the tattoo becoming lighter.
The characteristics of your tattoo will determine which laser is used, how long each treatment takes, and how many treatments you will need. Color is one important factor. Blue and black tattoos are easier to remove compared to ones with color. Sometimes small blue or black tattoos can be removed in only a few treatments. The same is true for cosmetic and amateur tattoos. Newer tattoos usually are more difficult than older ones to remove.
Laser treatments to remove tattoos are in most cases well tolerated by patients, although some may require numbing cream or medication for pain. A common description of the feeling of the laser pulses is that it is like a rubber band snapping on the skin. Laser tattoo removal is very safe, and has much less of a risk of leaving scars than other methods like excision or dermabrasion. The laser only affects the pigmented skin and leaves the surrounding tissue unharmed, although some kind of change to the skin that is treated is inevitable.
Different skin tones and ink colors absorb different light wavelengths. That is how the laser is able to remove the pigmented skin. Lasers are able to use certain wavelengths to target certain areas of the skin. At Advanced Dermatology, P.C. we have multiple lasers so that we can always have the appropriate device available for the particular tattoo.
Sometimes multiple laser wavelengths are used on the same tattoo to treat different pigments. Once this pigment is destroyed it either then flakes off the body or is absorbed into the blood stream. The remaining ink particles will be removed by your body’s immune system. Immediately after treatment there may be some swelling and pinpoint bleeding and the area may turn white. This will usually subside within a week or so.
Other options for covering up an unwanted tattoo include tattooing over with a new tattoo or applying a concealer. Excision is sometimes used, which involves actually cutting out the tattoo and letting the skin heal over. This usually will leave some kind of scar, however, which may be even more unsightly than the tattoo.
The experienced, board-certified dermatologists in our practice have years of experience treating tattoos with lasers. They will work with you to determine how many treatments you need.
Questions to Ask When Considering Laser Tattoo Removal
What is the best doctor to remove my tattoo? Dermatologists are specially trained to treat the skin and have extensive knowledge of how your skin functions. You should be looking for a dermatologist when you are considering getting a tattoo removed. You will want to find a dermatologist who has extensive experience with laser tattoo removal and who has the right laser device.
How many treatments will I need? When you choose a dermatologist and meet with them for your consultation, you should ask them to give you an estimate of how many treatments will be necessary to completely remove the tattoo.
What medical information should I share with my dermatologist? If you have a herpes infection in the area of the tattoo you should tell your dermatologist, as the tattoo removal process could bring out the infection. You should not go out in the sun before having your laser tattoo removal treatment, as sunburned skin reacts more strongly to laser light.
Will my skin tone respond well to treatment? With older lasers, darker skin tones did not respond as well as lighter ones to laser treatment. Newer lasers are showing much better results with darker skin, or Fitzpatrick Types.
What should I expect after treatment? Make sure that you understand what you can expect after you complete your course of treatments. Usually most of the tattoo can be removed but sometimes areas will remain that won’t respond to treatment.