With the invent of Q switch lasers tattoos no longer have to be permanent. Lasers can remove or significantly lighten a tattoo by introducing the laser pulses to the tattoo’s ink particles. The laser energy will be converted to heat which in turn will break up the ink to smaller pieces allowing it to be absorbed harmlessly by the body, without damaging the normal tissue surrounding the tattoo. A typical good candidate for laser tattoo removal is fair-skinned person with tattoos on arms, legs, buttocks or chest, back and abdomen that have more underlying fat than other areas of the body. Prior to laser, Other tattoo removal techniques prior to invention of lasers included dermabrasion, cryosurgery and surgical excision.
The Laser Tattoo Removal Procedure
We recommend our clients to take some Tylenol a couple of hours before the procedure is started to help with the mild discomfort that this procedure can produce if there are no contraindications such as allergies. At the time of the procedure, we will hand you a pair of glasses to protect your eyes from the laser beam.
About 20 minutes before the procedure is started a topical anesthetic will be applied to the tattoo area and at times ice is applied before, during, and after the procedure to help with discomfort. We will test your skin response to the laser to determine the most efficient settings for your skin, then intense laser pulses are sent from the Q-switched laser to your skin to break down the tattoo ink as explained above.
Depending on the surface area of the tattoo most sessions last about 5-10 minutes and after each session, the area is iced for 15-30 minutes. Administration of topical antibiotics and bandage to the area will conclude the visit. We recommend applying an antibiotic ointment for 2 days after the procedure and to otherwise keep the area dry and clean. This area will feel like you had a sunburn and the sensation will resolve on its own usually within 24 hours.
Results and Risks of Laser Tattoo Removal
Depending on the complexity of the tattoo, ink color and ink components results may vary. Simple tattoos with darker color usually respond faster and are easier to remove. These tattoos may be totally removed with three sessions of laser treatment, while more complicated tattoos may require more number of sessions for desired results. Complications and side effects rarely occur, and include hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, infection and scarring of the area undergoing the procedure.