The most common type of tattoo removal currently being performed uses lasers. Thousands of particles of ink are contained in the skin for each tattoo. Foreign particles are usually removed from the skin by the immune system. The particles of ink used for tattoos are too large for the immune system to remove. This is the reason tattoos are considered permanent. Lasers are an effective method for tattoo removal because they break apart the particles into much smaller pieces. The immune system is then able to remove these particles naturally. During a laser tattoo removal treatment, the ink particles are effectively targeted within the skin using concentrated light waves to heat the particles of ink.
Once heated, the particles of ink fragment into pieces small enough for your immune system to clear away. In some instances, only one laser treatment is necessary to completely remove your tattoo. In most cases, a series of treatments is required for the size of the particles of ink to be decreased enough for your immune system to disperse. The number of sessions necessary will depend on the color, size and design of your tattoo. You may need as many as ten treatments to completely remove the ink in your tattoo. Certain colors of ink are much more difficult to remove than others and will require more treatments. If you need more than one treatment, you need to wait six weeks before your next procedure to give your body enough time to heal and absorb the ink. The best candidates for laser tattoo removal are in good physical health, have realistic expectations and do not smoke.
The Procedure for Laser Tattoo Removal
There are many good reasons for considering laser tattoo removal. You may no longer be happy with your tattoo or you may regret the design you chose. Your tattoo may have become blurred or faded or no longer matches your current image. No matter what the reason is, thousands of ink particles were used when you got your tattoo. These particles are in your dermis or the inner layer of your skin. The normal reaction of your body when foreign particles are detected is to absorb and eliminate them. This is the reason tattoos can fade as time passes. The reason a tattoo will not disappear completely is because of the size of the ink particles. They are too big for your body to absorb. Laser tattoo removal is a process requiring a commitment, energy and time.
The best reasons for laser tattoo removal include a tattoo that brings back unpleasant memories, an undesirable image or design, ink that has faded and left a messy or blurry image behind and becoming frustrated when forced to cover up your tattoo for your job. Once you understand your reasons for wanting to be rid of your tattoo, you need to learn how laser tattoo removal works. When you were getting your tattoo, a needle was used to place the ink into your skin. Your white blood cells detected a foreign substance and rushed to the area to rid your body of this substance. Only a very minimal amount of ink could be removed because the particles of ink are much bigger than your white blood cells.
Laser tattoo removal effectively shatters the particles of ink. They become a much more manageable size. This enables your white blood cells to remove the smaller particles of ink so they can be eliminated by your body. This will take time because you will most likely need a series of treatments to completely eliminate your tattoo. Every time you complete a session, more and more ink particles will be broken apart. This means more ink will be eliminated from your tattoo. The ink left behind cannot be treated until your skin has had enough time to heal. Once you understand how laser tattoo removal works, it becomes easy to understand why multiple treatments are necessary.
No two tattoos are exactly the same. The colors of ink, the size of the tattoo and the type of ink are all different. The skin type of each person also varies wildly. This means you may require fewer or more treatments than someone you know who has already had a tattoo removed. To achieve optimal results, your tattoo may require the use of more than one type of laser. In most instances, your tattoo can be removed completely. Even if this is not possible, your tattoo should be so light, it will hardly be noticeable. To make certain your laser tattoo removal is both safe and successful, you must be completely honest during your initial consultation. You will be asked a lot of questions about your lifestyle, expectations and health. This generally includes:
- Your goals and expectations for your tattoo removal
- Any surgeries you have had in the past
- All herbal supplements, vitamins and medications you are currently using
- Any use of drugs, tobacco and alcohol
- Any current or previous medical treatments, drug allergies and medical conditions
During your consultation, the medical professional will evaluate the status of your overall health and determine any risk factors, pre-existing health issues or conditions. Photographs will be taken for a before and after comparison. Your available options will be discussed and a treatment plan will be recommended. The most likely outcome of your treatment will be fully explained. Asking questions is extremely important. Once you understand the process of laser tattoo removal, you will most likely be more confident and relaxed. No matter what kind of procedure is used to remove your tattoo, a gauze bandage will be placed on your tattoo at the end of your session. This will protect the wound and help your body to heal.
The medical professional will explain how you need to care for your wound at the conclusion of your procedure. Listening to and following their recommendations is important. All that should be required is washing the area with soap and water every day and changing your gauze dressing. You may be prescribed a medication to significantly decrease any chance of infection or to speed up your natural healing process. You will be told when to schedule your next session when necessary. Your actual laser tattoo removal will begin when either an injection of lidocaine or numbing cream is used at the site to numb your skin. This will help you remain comfortable as the laser is passed over the area. Once the medical professional has passed the laser over your tattoo, your treatment will be over.
During your laser tattoo removal, the large particles of ink in your tattoo are shattered into numerous smaller pieces. Your body can then remove and eliminate these pieces. One of the most common lasers used for this treatment is called a Q-switched laser. This type of laser releases energy in a powerful pulse ideal for tattoo removal. If you have darker skin, the Q-switched Nd: YAG laser may be used to prevent permanently changing the pigment of your skin. The powerful energy pulse is directed at your tattoo to heat then break apart the ink. If your tattoo contains multiple colors, lasers using numerous wavelengths may be necessary. The laser only targets the molecules of ink, not your surrounding skin. The pulses of energy are fast and short with each color requiring a specific wavelength.
Once the particles of ink have been shattered into smaller pieces, your immune system will start removing them. This will cause your tattoo to start to fade. Because the ink has been layered into your skin, you will most likely require more than one session to completely remove your tattoo. Every laser tattoo removal session will target the layers of ink at the deeper levels. This ink was hidden by the other layers prior to your first treatment. You need to schedule your treatments about six to eight weeks apart. This will ensure your body has healed and the particles of ink have been absorbed and removed. This will make certain enough time has passed for optimal fading prior to your next treatment.
In most cases, the tattoo has been completely removed after six to eight treatments. Any skin discoloration should be minimal although this will depend on your skin tone. The best way to make certain your laser tattoo removal is successful is to follow the instructions you were given for after-care. This includes not using alcohol or smoking and staying out of the sun. You will need to protect the area and allow enough time for healing before your next treatment. You will continue with your treatments until your tattoo is completely gone and you are satisfied with your results. Your results will not be noticeable immediately because your body needs time to absorb the particles of ink.
You will see progress after every treatment until you have achieved your optimal results. Your results will be dependent on numerous factors including:
- The specific procedure used to remove your tattoo
- The size of your tattoo
- The color or colors of ink used for your tattoo
- The part of your body your tattoo is located
- The design and complexity of your tattoo
You must take care of your wound after your treatment to ensure you receive optimal results. Following the post-operative instructions provided by the medical professional is critical for your success. Cleaning your wound every day with soap and water is important for proper healing. Although the ultimate goal is to completely remove your tattoo, you must have realistic expectations. The factors above will be a determining factor in your success.
The Benefits of Laser Tattoo Removal
There are a lot of advantages to laser tattoo removal. The main benefit is no surgery is necessary. The other benefits include:
No scarring: The light from the laser will not damage your healthy skin cells. This means the chances of scarring are extremely low. Most methods sand your skin and often leave a scar.
The Deeper Penetration: The application materials used are modern. This means deeper penetration into your skin is possible. This is what helps provide the best possible results. Different tattoos are located deeper within the skin. This means laser technology is necessary for effective tattoo removal. The beam of the laser penetrates deeply to remove the ink. The laser can only penetrate so deep before the risk of scarring will increase.
Effectively Removing and Fading Tattoos: Laser tattoo removal is a good option for effectively diminishing the look of your tattoo without the risks that make the other types of tattoo removal undesirable.
The Irrelevance of Skin Color: Many of the tattoo removal methods currently available are only appropriate if the individual has certain skin colors. This limitation has been eliminated with laser tattoo removal. Every skin color and tone can be effectively treated with this procedure. The laser is adjusted according to the skin color so the different colors of ink can be eliminated over a period of time.
Minimal Recovery: There is no downtime with this treatment. You will need to keep your skin protected from the sun for a few days. You may see a little redness after your laser tattoo removal but this will fade away naturally in a couple of days.
If you are interested in laser tattoo removal, our team at Metro Dermatology would love to help you reach your goals. We are conveniently located in Elmhurst, Flushing, Englewood, and the Bronx. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!