Laser Tattoo Removal

Tattoo ink lives underneath the top layer of skin, which makes it difficult to remove, often requiring multiple laser sessions or in some cases, surgical removal. Laser tattoo removal is a noninvasive procedure that uses a Q-switched laser device to break down the pigment colors of an unwanted tattoo, while causing minimal damage to surrounding tissue. Laser tattoo removal has become more and more popular as the prevalence of tattoos has increased over recent decades.

When to Consider Tattoo Removal

– If you have an unwanted tattoo that makes you feel embarrassed, self-conscious, or limits your ability to wear certain clothing
– If you feel your tattoo no longer reflects your lifestyle or personal aesthetic
– If you are unhappy with changes in your tattoo caused by the natural aging of your skin

Considerations

Pros
– Highly effective treatment with minimal side effects
– Nonsurgical procedure (no incisions)
– Outpatient procedure with little pain and little to no downtime

Cons
– Multiple sessions may be required to remove a tattoo
– Scarring and changes in skin color or texture can occur
– A slightly elevated, white discoloration (sometimes accompanied by pinpoint bleeding) is often observed immediately following treatment
Are you a good candidate for a tattoo removal?
– You have an unwanted tattoo that makes you feel embarrassed or self-conscious
– You are tired of hiding or covering your unwanted tattoo
– You are unhappy with changes in the appearance of your tattoo due to the effects of aging
– You have found other methods of tattoo removal ineffective

How is a tattoo removal procedure performed?

– Eye shields are used to protect your eyes from the laser light.
– The skin’s reaction to the laser is tested to determine the most effective energy level for treatment.
– A handpiece is placed against the surface of your skin, and the laser light is activated. The laser device produces an extremely short laser pulse that is absorbed by the tattoo, causing the dye to break down while causing very little damage to the surrounding tissue. The resulting by-products will be removed by the body’s immune system as part of the healing process.
– Smaller tattoos require fewer pulses while larger ones require more.
– Multiple treatment sessions are often required for optimal results. The number of treatments will vary depending on the particular nature of your tattoo. The tattoo should become progressively lighter with each session.
– Immediately following treatment, an ice pack is applied to soothe the treated area. A non-occlusive dressing will be used to protect the site, and sunscreen should be used.
Laser tattoo removal requires multiple sessions for optimal results.
How do I prepare for a tattoo removal procedure?
– Wear sunscreen and/or avoid the sun
– Avoid pretreatment shaving, waxing, or exfoliating
– Avoid tanning and spray tans several weeks prior to your procedure
– Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing treatment to promote better healing
– Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding
– Regardless of the type of treatment to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery
Laser tattoo removal is usually performed on an outpatient basis and you are usually able to return to your normal activities immediately after the treatment. If necessary, arrange for someone to drive you home after treatment.

Aftercare and Recovery

Immediately after tattoo removal
It is normal to experience some mild pain or discomfort for up to forty-eight hours following treatment. In most cases, pain can be managed by applying an ice pack to the affected area. You may notice a slightly elevated, white discoloration and possible pinpoint bleeding in the treatment area immediately following the procedure. Minimal edema and erythema of adjacent skin may also occur. These symptoms typically resolve within twenty-four hours. Subsequently, a crust will form over the entire tattoo, which will fall off after about two weeks.
If you experience extreme or long-lasting pain or redness and swelling after treatment, contact your surgeon to find out these are symptoms are normal or a sign of a problem.
Week two to eight You will notice your tattoo gradually fading over the eight week healing period following the procedure. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.

How Long Will the Results Last?

Laser tattoo removal is permanent but it may take as many as two to twelve different sessions to obtain satisfactory results.

Limitations and Risks

– Skin discoloration such as hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation
– Temporary changes in skin texture
– Rarely, paradoxical darkening of a tattoo may occur