Laser Tattoo Removal
Laser tattoo removal can help you get that new look you want. Removing an unwanted tattoo or tattoos has never been easier, and state-of-the-art laser technology Laser Tattoo Removal can help you remove the tattoo that doesn’t fit into your life anymore. Whether you feel that your tattoo limits your clothing options, sends the wrong message to your children, family, friends, or work colleagues, or doesn’t look the way you want it to, Laser tattoo removal has a safe and effective treatment that will work.
Laser Tattoo Removal 101
Lasers produce specific wavelengths of light that are absorbed by different colors. Ever wonder why a black leather interior in a car is hotter than normal? The black in the seat is absorbing the sun’s light and causing it to heat up. Laser Tattoo Removal use a specialized tattoo removal laser that is absorbed by the ink in your tattoo causing that ink to shatter and fade away. Our tattoo removal laser is made by Astanza Laser and is called the Trinity; a combination Nd:YAG and Ruby tattoo removal laser that is able to remove all colors of tattoo ink, including blue and green.
Leading the Way in Laser tattoo removal
Laser tattoo removal is able to effectively remove most tattoos, ranging from small brightly colored flowers to names in black ink to tribal tattoos to stars. Our laser – which is used exclusively for laser tattoo removal – has several wavelengths of light that are able to remove both darker (black, brown, blue, purple) and lighter (red, orange, yellow, pink, green) tattoos. Red and black are the easiest colors to remove to with an Nd:YAG laser and blue and green can be removed with a q-switched ruby laser.
Examples of tattoos that we remove
Here are some examples of tattoos that have been successfully removed with Laser Tattoo Removal:
• Names and words – written in cursive and block letters
• Rings – symbols, words, bands worn under rings or jewelry
• Designs – hearts, characters, animals, flowers, tribal art, barbed wire, ….thousands more
• Sleeves/large artwork
• Portions of tattoos – we can remove sections of a tattoo that you no longer want
The laser we use (a q-switched, Nd:YAG and Ruby laser with 1064nm, 532nm, and 694nm wavelenghts, to be specific) is able to break up the ink in your tattoo over a number of sessions spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart. Your body needs several weeks between each laser treatment to flush away the ink that the laser breaks apart. For many patients, significant fading will be evident within the first few sessions. Generally, anywhere between 3 and 10 sessions are required to remove a tattoo completely.
Side effects of laser tattoo removal
Laser tattoo removal patients frequently ask about the side effects and discomfort they will experience from laser tattoo removal. These vary from patient to patient, and all of them are short-term. Almost every patient will experience some swelling and redness in the treated area immediately after the procedure.
This is a result of the body responding to the laser treatment and bringing blood to heal the area and begin to flush away the ink. Some patients experience blistering, which is also part of the normal healing process.
The side effects of laser tattoo removal are temporary when the right laser is used, though. The procedure will not scar your skin and although the skin will be slightly lighter because patients keep the area covered or protected with sunscreen, normal coloration will return after treatments are complete.
Laser Tattoo Removal After Care Instructions
Tattoo removal laser treatment may create a superficial burn wound. Some patients may experience bruising or swelling. There is immediate whitening of the treated area, which usually lasts for several minutes. Many clients then develop blisters, crusts, or scabs within 8-72 hours, which may last for 1-2 weeks or more. The treated areas may be pink or pale after the scab separates. Scarring, which can be hypertrophic or even keloid, can occur but is very rare. Loss of skin pigment in the treated area can occur, and is temporary except in very rare cases. Healing is usually complete within 4 weeks, although this may vary.
With the newest technology in tattoo removal lasers, the skin is able to heal fairly quickly and easily. Clients are back to their normal routines almost immediately so that laser tattoo removal does not interfere with all the more important things we have going on in our lives.
Having said that, the after care instructions are basically a couple steps:
1. Right after your laser treatment, we will put an over the counter antibiotic ointment like Neosporin over the entire lasered area. We will place a bandage on it as well.
2. You will want to keep the area covered with a bandage for three days after your treatment putting neosporin or triple antibiotic cream over the area 2-3 times per day.
3. After the three days are over, leave the area open to the air and do not put any additional antibiotic cream in on it so that it will dry out and heal up more quickly. There is sometimes a temptation to leave it covered for longer but don’t, the air circulation is good for healing.
4. Continue with your normal activities of daily living and return to for your next session at the scheduled time. You are one step closer to having that tattoo removed!
More details on after care instructions, things to avoid, or things to anticipate after a treatment
1. Keep the treated area clean and dry while it is healing. Clean the area gently with soap and water and then pat the area dry. You may apply a thin coating of antibiotic ointment up to three times a day for 3 days while the area is healing and you should keep the area covered with a sterile dressing for those 3 days.
2. Blistering is common and is likely to occur 8 hours after your treatment. Do not be alarmed, blisters heal very well and are part of the normal healing process. Blisters indicate your immune system is healing the area and beginning to remove the ink from your tattoo. It is natural for blisters to pop, and this helps the skin to heal faster in many cases. Continue to put antibiotic ointment over the blisters once they have popped for at least 24 hours.
3. You may apply cool compresses as necessary for 24 hours after the laser treatment to help reduce discomfort and inflammation. You may take plain Tylenol, but avoid aspirin (it can increase the risk of bruising and/or bleeding.)
4. Do not pick at the scab or allow the skin to become scraped, as this may result in infection and scarring. Shaving should be avoided in the treated area until it is completely healed.
5. Feel free to shower 2 hours after the treatment, but take care to avoid high pressure water hitting the treated area. Baths, hot tubs, swimming pool, or any form of soaking are not recommended until all blistering and scabbing are completely healed, as they may increase the risk of infection.
6. Exercise is generally safe after treatment, taking into account the other after care instructions provided here.
7. Wear a sun block with an SPF of 25 or higher over the area for 3 months following the treatment. Do not wear makeup or any cream or medication on or near the treated area unless recommended by our office for 48 hours.
8. Itching is very common due to the dehydrating effect of the laser treatment. Use Aquaphor, vitamin E ointment, or hydrocortisone cream to the treatment area.
9. If the area looks infected (honey colored crusting and oozing or spreading redness), if you experience an unusual discomfort or bleeding, if any other complications develop, or if you have any questions or concerns, contact the office immediately.
10. Of course, if you have any extreme reaction, call 911 and go to the emergency department.
What do you use to remove a tattoo?
Laser removal uses the one and only way to remove a tattoo without scarring – a tattoo removal laser. Magic creams don’t work, surgery leaves horrible scarring, and a variety of other methods have been tried and discarded with the advent of safe, effective, and gentle lasers. The lasers we used is the gold standard for tattoo removal, and used exclusively for this one procedure. It is a q-switched, Nd:YAG lasers with wavelengths of light that can remove dark as well as light colors of ink.
How exactly does the laser break up the tattoo ink?
Precise wavelengths of light generated by the tattoo removal laser are designed to be absorbed by the ink in your tattoo. Like absorption of any other kind of energy, this absorption will lead to a transfer of energy, leading to the ink in your tattoo heating up. This heating happens in a fraction of a second and causes the ink to shatter into tiny pieces. Before, the ink particles were too large for your body to remove. Now, though, they are fragments that are able to be flushed away by your body’s immune system.
How does the body remove the shattered ink?
As with any other time the body senses out of the ordinary influences or substances, an immune response will occur. With tattoo removal this takes the form of some swelling and redness in the treated area. In your blood are phagocytes that will carry away the shattered ink particles away and fade your tattoo. Over a number of sessions your body will remove more and more ink until your tattoo is completely gone.
Why do I need multiple sessions?
As you may remember getting your tattoo – the tattoo artist likely put several layers of thick, rich ink in your skin. Over time, this ink drifts deeper into your skin and forms even more layers. Each time we perform a laser treatment on a patient’s skin we cover the area as completely as possible and break up as much ink as we can. Each layer will shatter ink and your body will flush away this ink in the weeks after your treatment. We’ll keep removing layers of ink until your tattoo is no longer visible. Some tattoos that have shading (less-dense ink) are quicker to remove than tattoos with very thick, dark lines or designs.
Questions on The Cost of Laser Tattoo Removal
How many sessions will I need to remove my tattoo?
This is definitely a frequently asked question! Every tattoo has unique features that make it difficult to predict how many sessions you will need. However, we’ve seen thousands of tattoos and can predict within a range of treatment how many treatments your tattoo will need in most cases. The number will depend on the age of the tattoo, the color of the ink, the density of the ink, the depth of the ink in your skin, and several other factors.
Older tattoos can be removed with less treatments than newer tattoos. A black ink tattoo that is 10 years old may take one or two treatments less than a 1 year old black tattoo. A 20 year old tattoo may take two to three treatments less than a 1 year old tattoo. A name tattoo written in black (also called “dark green”) ink that is 1 year old may take 5-7 sessions to be removed completely.
Certain colors are more easily removed than others. Black and red tattoos are the easiest to remove. Orange, yellow, pink, purple, brown, and other shades are slightly more difficult to remove. The most difficult colors to remove are light green, light blue, and teal/turquoise. During the free consultation we’ll discuss the number of treatments you’ll need to remove certain colors, but expect that you’ll need a few more if you have a difficult color, but the most difficult colors may not be able to be faded down completely.
Density of the Ink
Shading in a tattoo is easily removed. Some tattoos with letters use shading to fill in the outlines of the letters. Some tattoos with certain designs use shading for clouds or other visual effect. Shading will be removed in only a few sessions in most cases.
Do “tattoo removal creams” help?
Discussion of tattoo removal creams get laser tattoo removal professionals very excited. There aren’t many products that make such impressive claims and produce such unimpressive results. Almost every day there are many people who finally try Laser Tattoo Removal after trying these products for 3 or 6 months with absolutely no results. You’d be better off spending your money on ice cream and a day at the spa. Tattoo removal creams are gimmicks – try to find out the ingredients of these products and you’ll understand why medical professionals from the Mayo Clinic reject the spurious claims of these fraudulent products.
Side Effects and Risks
Will the laser procedure scar my skin?
No, for almost all patients scarring will NOT occur. The only patients that have concerns over scarring are patients with a history of keloid scarring, and we screen for this very rare condition. Even with patients that keloid in most cases they will not scar from our tattoo removal procedure. Our goal is to make your skin look great – like it did before you had your tattoo!
Modern q-switched Nd:YAG lasers such as Cynosure’s Affinity QS are gentle with the skin – they do not penetrate deep enough to cause a scarring response and they don’t burn off skin like old lasers did – they use selective wavelengths of light to target the ink in your tattoo. Decades ago tattoo removal lasers were much more damaging to the skin (and some clinics that use old equipment still use these lasers so beware!) because the wavelengths used would transfer a huge amount of heat to the skin causing layers of skin to be burned away. Modern lasers – including all of those used for Laser Tattoo Removal – work differently. Adhering to the principle of selective photothermolysis, individual chromophores in your skin (tattoo ink, in this case) are targeted and others are ignored. This selective application of energy is much, much more gentle on the skin.
Does the procedure hurt?
Almost every patient we treat compares the pain from the procedure with that of getting the tattoo applied. A key difference is that laser tattoo removal is much quicker – most treatments take between 5 and 30 minutes, with the average being around 10-15 minutes. Patients compare the discomfort with that of a rubber band snapping against their skin. Black ink tattoos are slightly less uncomfortable to remove than colored tattoos due to the wavelength of light we use to break up the ink.
What side effects might I experience?
Most patients experience some redness, swelling, and minor blistering of the skin after a laser treatment. Blistering is the most pronounced, but the blisters heal quickly and leave no long-term damage to the skin. These side effects are temporary and your skin will heal back completely. We provide our patients detailed after-care instructions to help them manage their skin after the treatment.