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Tattoo Removal


Tattoo removal has been performed with various tools during the history of tattooing. While tattoos were once considered permanent, it is now possible to remove them with treatments, fully or partially.

Before the development of laser tattoo removal methods, common techniques included dermabrasion, TCA (Trichloroacetic acid, an acid that removes the top layers of skin, reaching as deep as the layer in which the tattoo ink resides), salabrasion (scrubbing the skin with salt), cryosurgery and excision which is sometimes still used along with skin grafts for larger tattoos. Some early forms of tattoo removal included the injection or application of wine, lime, garlic or pigeon excrement.

Tattoo removal by laser was performed with continuous-wave lasers initially, and later with Q-switched lasers, which became commercially available in the early 1990s.

Today, "laser tattoo removal" usually refers to the non-invasive removal of tattoo pigments using Q-switched lasers. Typically, black and other darker-colored inks can be removed completely.

There is good news for those who have an unwanted body design. Newer laser tattoo removal techniques can eliminate your tattoo with minimal side effects.

What You Need To Know?


1.How does the laser remove the tattoo?
The laser removes tattoo ink with the energy of light. A laser is a device, which is designed to produce one or more specific wavelengths of light. Tattoo ink is removed by using this specific wavelength of light, which passes into the skin, but is absorbed by the ink. The rapid absorption of light energy causes the tattoo ink to break into tiny particles, which can then be removed by the body's natural filtering systems. The  laser provides maximum tattoo removal while leaving the surrounding skin unharmed.

2.What type of tattoos can be removed?
Laser can remove professional, amateur (homemade), traumatic and surgical tattoos.

3.How many treatments will it take to remove a tattoo?
There are many factors that influence how quickly your tattoo can be removed:  1) the amount of ink in the skin, 2) the type of ink that was used 3) how old the tattoo is 4) whether it was an amateur or professional tattoo 5) the depth of ink in your skin, and 6) the color of the tattoo. 

While it is impossible to predict the exact number of treatments necessary for removal, we can give you a best-guess estimate after the first treatment. On the average, black and blue professional tattoos with an average amount of ink require 6-8 treatments, while amateur tattoos require 4-5 treatments, all spaced approximately 6-8 weeks apart. Darker skin types and densely pigmented tattoos may require many more treatments.

Does the laser remove colored tattoos?
Dark (blue, black) inks will resolve the best. Oranges and purples usually fade as well. Green, red and yellow inks are the most difficult to remove, and additional treatments are needed to produce significant fading. Other colors, such as flesh toned tattoos and white tattoos, are extremely difficult to remove.

4.Will the tattoo completely disappear?

In many cases, yes. Greater than 95% fading of the tattoo, may be accomplished. However, it is important to know that there are more than 300 types of tattoo inks in use worldwide today, none of which are regulated by the FDA. Not knowing which tattoo ink was used, or how deeply it was applied, makes it impossible for the laser specialist to predict the degree of removal on any given tattoo.

5.Is the process painful?
The laser emits light in very short pulses. The impact of the energy from the powerful pulse of light is similar to the snap of a small rubber band on the skin. The majority of patients do not require anesthesia, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. We usually apply ice to smaller areas, although anesthesia creams are available if needed.

Can I go back to work after the procedure?
Yes. Most people can go back to their daily routine half an hour after the procedure.

6.What can I expect after the procedure?
Immediately after the procedure, the area may be a bit raised, swollen, and lighter in color. You will be asked to wear an ice pack for approximately 30 minutes.  Some common post-procedure effects are: swelling, itching, blistering, scabbing, redness, hyperpigmentation (darkening of the area) and hypopigmentation (lightening).  All of these effects are generally transient and will resolve within a matter of days.  If you have pigmentary alterations, it may take longer to resolve.  

7.What type of post-treatment care is necessary?
An antibacterial ointment and a dressing will be applied to the area immediately after treatment. You will be given an icepack and instructed to ice the area for approximately 30 minutes.

Occasionally, there will be pinpoint bleeding associated with the treatment. The treated area should be kept clean. Follow your laser specialist's instructions exactly as to what to do during the days following the procedure.

A shower can be taken the next day, although the treated area should never be scrubbed. If a scab forms it is vital that you do not pick it or scratch it.  You should apply sunblock and/or a bandaid to cover the treated area if you expect sun exposure. We recommend that you wear loose, cotton clothing (if the tattoo is in a covered area) to avoid irritating the treated area.

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