Removing a tattoo is a personal, aesthetic choice for patients. And while most tattoo wearers love their tattoos, a large majority end up regretting at least one tattoo down the road. The motivations for tattoo removal are many. Most people get tattoos at a young age or at a different stage in their life, and their tastes change over time, leading to tattoo regret or a desire to get a cover-up tattoo.
Q-switched lasers offer the best results for patients suffering from tattoo regret.
How Does It Work?
A Q-switched laser is the only technology that is able to penetrate down to the dermis and shatter tattoo ink without causing damage to the surrounding skin tissue. All other methods either aren’t capable of reaching and destroying the ink or cause too much damage to the skin, resulting in scarring.
Q-switched lasers are unique because they use an intense pulse of light energy that is very powerful and very brief. Because the energy is in the skin for such a brief period of time, the skin isn’t heated long enough to experience tissue damage. Yet, because the pulse of energy is so intense, the tattoo ink instantly fragments into smaller pieces as it absorbs the light.
After the treatment, the tattoo ink that is shattered will be eliminated by the body’s natural immune processes. Each laser treatment breaks down progressively more ink until the tattoo has been visibly erased.
- We ask that you are freshly showered or bathed with completely clean skin, without lotions, oils, creams or fragrances of any kind before coming in. If there is excessive hair in the treatment area, we recommend shaving the area prior to treatment.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treatment area, and do not use UV tanning beds at all for four weeks before treatment. The use of self-tanning skin care products must be discontinued 2 weeks prior to treatment, and any residual self-tanner must be removed in order to perform the treatment.
- Numbing agents may not be used in the treatment area as it can interfere with the efficacy of treatment.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of 30 or above on a daily basis (rain or shine).
- Do not use any topical products that cause photosensitivity (e.g. hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, retinols, and benzoyl peroxide) in the treatment areas for three days before treatment. Use a gentle cleanser and lotion on treated areas.
- If you have received any medical spa services in the treatment area, such as BOTOX®, dermal fillers, laser or spa services, please contact our office to ensure that treatment may still be performed.
What To Expect During Your Laser Tattoo Removal Session
While receiving laser tattoo removal, you will be required to wear protective eyewear. You may still be able to see a flash of light, but your eyes will be completely covered. The provider will wear protective eyewear, as well. During the treatment, all areas of the body that will not be lasered will be covered with clothing. Only the areas to receive laser treatment will be exposed. We are always mindful of your comfort and your peace of mind; we will let you know ahead of time what to expect.
The treatment can be performed in as little as 15 minutes, depending on the size of your tattoo and type of ink that was used. Most patients compare the treatment discomfort as comparable to when they got the tattoo. Following your treatment, you may feel a little discomfort, but generally people experience redness, mild swelling and/or tenderness in treatment area that will resolve in a quick manner. The post treatment area response will vary from patient to patient depending on the extent of treatment.
After Your Laser Tattoo Removal Treatment
- Erythema (redness), edema (swelling), scabbing, flaking, irritation or blistering in treatment area will most likely occur. This may persist for several days. A white-gray discoloration of the treatment area may appear immediately following treatment and last for a few minutes to a few days. Your tattoo may darken, lighten, fade or even appear or have no change immediately post treatment. On average, it takes 6-12 weeks for your body to process the pigment of the tattoo. Tattoo removal works by eliminating pigment in the tattoo through the body’s lymphatic system, therefore, treatment results will not be visibly evident for 8-12 weeks.
- Discomfort may be relieved by taking an over the counter pain reliever or by using ice packs in 20-30 minute intervals.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treatment area throughout the course of your laser treatments. If sun exposure is necessary, keep treatment area covered with a non-adherent bandage. Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight, and do not use UV tanning beds at all for four weeks after treatment.
- Once per day use a gentle soap to cleanse treatment area and pat dry. To keep the treatment area moist, apply a triple antibiotic ointment twice per day and cover with a non-adherent bandage for 7-10 days post treatment, or until the treatment area is healed.
- If scabbing occurs, it is very important not to pick, shave, rub, scratch or aggressively wash the area to prevent possible scarring. If blistering occurs, do not drain blisters. Allow them to dry and heal on their own. Care should be taken to prevent trauma to the treated area for the first 7-10 days following treatment.
- Physical exercise (aerobics, sport activities) should be discontinued for 1 to 2 days. Rough physical activities (playing football) should be discontinued for 10 days post treatment.
- Do not immerse the treatment area in water for the first three weeks post procedure, or until the skin completely heals. This includes bathtubs, Jacuzzis, swimming pools, lakes, the ocean, etc.
- If the tattoo is on a lower extremity, keep the leg elevated to increase blood circulation which encourages the healing process.
- Return in 8-12 weeks for assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Laser Tattoo Removal
How Many Treatments Does It Take To Remove Tattoos?
It Depends on the tattoo. Fine line tattoos with black ink respond the most readily to tattoo removal treamtments, while the ink in colorful tattoos can take a number of treatments to be fully removed. Regardless, the Q-Switched Yag Laser can effectively target and destroy both types of ink and remove both black and colored tattoos with yellow, purple, turquoise and fluorescent dyes the hardest to fade as the lighter ink colors are harder to remove as they don’t absorb as much light and heat from the laser.
Does Laser Tattoo Removal Hurt?
The degree of discomfort varies with each person depending on the nature and location of the tattoo on the body. Most patient’s feel that it is comparable to getting the tattoo in the first place. Patient’s report that the discomfort is well worth the results!
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments will depend on how large the tattoo is, what inks were used, and how deep the tattoo was inked into the skin. On average, patients will need 5-8 need sessions for complete removal.
How Often Can Treatments Be Performed?
The frequency of your tattoo removal appointments will be based on clinical judgment. For most patients this ranges between 8-12 weeks.