The laser tattoo removal process begins when the laser penetrates the skin and becomes absorbed by the tattoo ink. This absorption causes the ink to break up into smaller fragments that are swept away by the body’s immune system. Repetition of this procedure gradually fades the tattoo.
The number of treatments depends on the color, site, and method of placement. For amateur tattoos (ink is one color and typically “homemade”), at least 3 treatments are recommended. For professional tattoos (ink is multiple colors and at a more consistent depth) at least 6-12 treatments are often required. Rarely, tattoo ink cannot be fully removed. Each laser treatment should be at least 4-6 weeks apart; they can be spaced further apart without any loss of benefit.
During the procedure, goggles will be worn to protect the eyes. Topical numbing or local anesthesia will be administered for pain management. It is normal for the laser to make a loud popping noise during treatment.
Length of treatment depends on the size of the tattoo, with most lasting 10-15 minutes; this excludes numbing time. Larger tattoos take more time than smaller ones.
Immediately following treatment, a crust or scab may form and take several weeks to heal. If this occurs, a bandage should be worn until healed. The tattoo will gradually fade over the next 3-4 weeks as the site heals. After treatment, the tattooed area can be exposed in a shower but baths, pools, and hot tubs should be avoided until healed.
Some colors may be difficult to completely remove, especially indigo blue and emerald green. Because of limited regulations on the tattoo parlor industry, the ingredients of each color vary and can make removal of the ink challenging and/or impossible. Other less common potential side effects include but are not limited to scarring, permanent lightening or darkening of the skin, and allergic reaction.
It is important that the skin is not tan prior to treatment. Being tan for your skin type increases the risk of side effects, including permanent change in the color of your skin. Therefore, it is suggested to avoid sun exposure to the site being treated 4 weeks prior to laser removal, and 4 weeks after treatment. Covering the site with a bandage or clothing is more effective than sunscreen if intense sun exposure is anticipated.
Cost depends on the size of the tattoo, and ranges from $225.00 to $1000 per treatment. Package discounts are available. Local numbing injections and/or numbing cream are included in the cost.
If you are interested in laser tattoo removal please give our Tulsa, OK office a call at (918) 494-0400.