LASER TREATMENT OF TATTOOS
How does the laser work for removing tattoos?
The laser passes into the skin and is absorbed by the tattoo pigment. This process breaks apart the tattoo ink into tiny particles, and the body’s cells “sweep” it up. When done repeatedly, this process gradually fades the tattoo.
How many treatments are needed and how often are they needed?
The number of treatments needed depends on the tattoo color, site, and method of placement. For amateur tattoos, at least 3 treatments are required; for professional tattoos, at least 6 -12 treatments are often needed. Furthermore, certain tattoo colors may be impossible to remove. Laser treatments should be spaced at least 6 weeks apart. If desired, they can be spaced further apart without any loss of benefit. In fact, if desired, they can be spaced 6-12 months apart.
What can I expect with a laser treatment?
You will be provided with goggles prior to the procedure. Do not remove them until instructed to do so. Some patients tolerate the treatments with topical numbing, but most prefer local anesthesia (i.e. numbing injections). With local anesthesia, the treatment is essentially painless. The laser makes a loud popping sound during the treatment. The length of the treatment depends on the size of the tattoo, though most treatments last 10-15 minutes (not including local numbing). Immediately following the treatment, a crust or scab may form and take several weeks to heal. If scabbing occurs, a bandage should be worn until healed. The tattoo gradually fades over the next 3-4 weeks as the site heals. It is okay to expose the area to showers water but pool, bath, and hot tub water should be avoided until healed.
What are some issues/risks I should consider prior to having my tattoo lasered?
Most tattoos can be removed without scarring, though scarring may occur. Other risks include but are not limited to Infection and permanent lightening or darkening of the skin. Some inks may be impossible to completely remove. Notoriously difficult colors include indigo blue and emerald green. Rarely, laser treatments may trigger an allergic reaction. If this occurs, surgical removal of the tattoo may be necessary to alleviate chronic itching.
How do I prepare for the treatments?
It is important that you are not tan prior to each treatment. We suggest avoiding sun exposure for 4 weeks prior to and after each treatment. Being tan (for your skin type) increases the risk of side effects.