You’ve probably heard laser tattoo removal is the perfect way to get rid of the ink you now regret. However, using lasers to remove unwanted ink sounds like science fiction. Can you actually remove tattoo ink with lasers? If so, how effective is it in reality? Can tattoos be removed completely? Today, our experts at Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, NY are answering all of your questions related to laser therapy for tattoo removal.
Can Lasers Remove Tattoos Completely?
Yes, lasers can remove tattoos completely. In fact, lasers are the safest, most effective tool to remove unwanted tattoos with. However, you may need to receive several sessions before the tattoo is removed completely. The number of sessions you will need depends on the size, age, location and color of the tattoo you want to remove.
How Do Lasers Facilitate Tattoo Removal?
You need to understand what a tattoo is and how it works before you can understand exactly how laser tattoo removal works. Archaeologists have found evidence suggesting numerous human cultures have been tattooing for millennia. Although state-of-the-art electronic tools have changed the way tattooing is performed, the essence of tattooing remains fairly constant. A needle or a similar tool is used to embed coloration into the skin permanently.
Less Like a Syringe, More Like a Fountain Pen
People often visualize a modern tattoo artist embedding coloration into the skin using something like a needle and syringe. However, a tattoo needle is more like a fountain pen. When the tip of the tattoo needle is dipped into the ink, it dangles and penetrates the epidermis and dermis of the skin. Capillary action then occurs, settling the ink into the dermis. In other words, a physical process takes place that causes your skin to suck up the ink.
Your Immune System Makes Tattoos Permanent
Notably, the body’s own immune function is what keeps the ink in place forever. The ink is held in place when white blood cells flood the area to defend the area from the penetration of the needle.
Only recent research has proven that tattooing doesn’t just produce an exaggerated white blood cell response during the process. Rather, the body mounts an ongoing immune response. Long after the tattooing is over, the body continues to send immune cells to “protect the body.” This is why the ink is held in place forever.
How Do Lasers Remove Unwanted Tattoos?
As stated above, the tattoos are permanent because of the way your body responds to the perceived threat of puncturing. However, lasers can be used to disrupt the status quo and remove regretted tattoos. Laser tattoo removal involves the use of a laser designed specifically to target ink without affecting the skin. As the laser is guided over the tattoo, it penetrates the epidermis and dermis, finding and fracturing the pigmentation that makes up the tattoo.
While this is happening, the surrounding skin tissues are not affected at all. The state-of-the-art laser we use disintegrates the pigmentation into pieces so small your lymphatic system is able to pick them up and flush them away.
This Treatment Is Completely Safe and Highly Effective
We’d like to reiterate that there is no safer, more effective way to get rid of unwanted tattoos than laser treatments. Lasers use a beam of light that is extremely concentrated to break the coloration down to the point your body can sweep it up and flush it out without affecting the surrounding skin at all. The tattoo will fade as your lymphatic system processes the disintegrated ink particles created by the laser.
A Note on Your Lymphatic System
Your lymphatic system is part of your body’s immune system. People often consider their lymphatic system to be akin to a drainage system. This system’s primary function is to flush out potentially harmful substances, like toxins and excess fluids, out of the body. Your body is encouraged to ramp up your lymphatic system when lasers are used to break down pigmentation into tiny pieces.
Will This Treatment Method Remove My Tattoo Effectively?
As with any aesthetic service, the efficacy of laser tattoo removal depends on your unique circumstances. However, we have the education and experience to tailor a treatment plan that will work for you.
Remember, the number of sessions you will need to remove your tattoo completely depends on a number of factors, including the color, density and size of the tattoo. Nonetheless, even if one session will not remove the unwanted tattoo completely, your lymphatic system gets to work immediately flushing away the broken down pigments. Thus, you will see an improvement after your first session.
What Colors Can a Laser Remove From the Skin?
The laser we use affects different colors differently because it is an incredibly concentrated light beam. Brighter pigmentations will reflect more of the laser’s light. Thus, if your tattoo comprises bright colors, you will need more removal sessions than you would if you had a dark tattoo that absorbed more of the light beam.
How Many Sessions Will I Need to Achieve My Desired Results?
We can give you a good idea of how many sessions you will need to remove your unwanted tattoo completely during your initial consultation. The average tattoo can be removed in between five and eight laser sessions. Dark, old tattoos may only require three or four removal sessions. New, dense, fluorescent tattoos may take 10 or more treatment sessions before full removal is realized.
Laser Removal Is a Process
The tattoo you now regret did not appear on its own magically. It will not disappear magically, either. For the laser removal process to work, you must be committed to the process.
In other words, you need to make time to attend three to 12 laser removal sessions and care for your skin adequately after each session. You must also be patient and keep in mind that your lymphatic system can’t flush away all of the broken down pigments at once. Your results will continue to improve over time.
How to Prepare for the Laser Removal of Unwanted Tattoos
To prepare for the laser removal of unwanted tattoos, you need to commit to doing what it takes to rid yourself of your regret for good. Other than that, you don’t have to do too much to prepare. When you come in for your initial consultation, we’ll give you a list of pre-treatment care steps to take, like drinking plenty of water and wearing sunscreen.
However, your daily routine shouldn’t change much at all in preparation for your laser treatment session. Also, since this treatment doesn’t affect your skin at all, you should expect to find the tattoo removal experience much more pleasant than getting the tattoo was.
Do’s and Don’ts Following Laser Tattoo Removal
Keep the Treated Area Dry and Clean
One of the most important steps you can take to care of your skin after laser tattoo removal is to keep the treated area dry and clean. Use tepid water and a gentle cleanser to clean the area gingerly. Then, use a soft towel to pat the area dry.
During the first 72 hours following your laser removal session, you should apply an antibiotic ointment as directed and keep the treated area covered with a bandage. You should change the bandage at least daily. Both the antibiotic ointment and the bandage help to keep the treated area clean.
Don’t Soak in the Tub
Don’t be tempted by the thought of having a hot, relaxing soak in your bathtub, hot tub or pool during the first three days following your treatment. Part of keeping the treated area dry is avoiding any activities that will soak the treated area. You should also refrain from swimming or playing water sports, like water polo. Clean yourself in a tepid shower instead of a bath and don’t let highly pressurized water hit the treatment area directly.
Minimize Sun Exposure
Minimizing sun exposure is another key step you must take to care of your skin after a laser removal session. When you must go outside, make sure you are wearing a strong sunscreen. Reapply your sunscreen every four hours for the most effective protection. You should also care for your skin by avoiding other sources of UV rays, like tanning beds.
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to care for your skin after laser tattoo removal. Remember, your lymphatic system is a part of your immune system. Thus, the stronger your immune system is, the sooner you will see the final results of your treatment. To boost your immune system, go for regular walks. Walking increases circulation which means more blood will flow to the treatment site and the efficiency of your immune system will be increased.
If you don’t have a lot of free time, we recommend walking at an intense pace. The more you can get your blood circulating, the sooner your regretted tattoo will fade forever.
Stop Living With Regret
You don’t have to live with the embarrassment and regret of unwanted ink any more. You don’t have to pick your outfit for the day based on whether it will conceal the embarrassing tattoo. You don’t have to feel the need to wear a cover-up every time you go to the pool. Life is full of choices we regret.
However, your regrets don’t have to be permanently visible. If you regret a tattoo, a series of laser treatments can remove that regret completely. Contact us today at Metro Dermatology in Elmhurst, NY to schedule an initial consultation and take the first step in removing the ink you now regret.