Nowadays laser technology is one of the most used techniques for tattoo removal. Laser removal works by targeting the tattoo with highly concentrated rays of colored laser light that will go into the outer layer of the skin. Only the ink absorbs theN light.
The ink is destroyed into small fragments, which later on are carried away by the immune system of your own body. Usually it takes 3-10 treatments to get your tattoo completely removed.
The number of treatments depends the size, location, depth and color of your tattoo. Treatments should be 6-8 weeks apart. This is the time necessary to give your body enough time to remove the ink fragments. Each tattoo session takes 10-30 minutes.
3 different types of laser are used for tattoo removal. Which laser will be used depends on the color of ink and skin color of the patient. So if you have a colorful tattoo, it is wise to go to a center which has three types.
The three laser types are:
-The Q-swithed Ruby, this one is more effective on sky-blue and green tattoos. This kind of laser is hard to use on dark types of skin.
-The Q-switched Alexandrate, this one is used for removal of blue-black and green tattoos.
-The Q-switched Nd.YAG, this laser is partially advanced in removing red, black and blue ink.
Because this laser doesn't absorb melatonin from the skin it is more suited for people with a dark skin color.
New tattoos are harder to remove than old ones. Older tattoos contain less ink than new ones. The body absorbs some of the ink.
Turquoise colored tattoos are especially difficult to remove, because there is no laser that effectively can break down this color.
Tattoos which are red, white or flesh colored are also difficult to remove. These colors may turn black after laser treatment.
Laser tattoo removal can cause some discomfort. Most people describe it as a needle sting or the snapping of a rubber band against your skin. This feeling is caused by the pulses of the laser.
Usually 10-30 pulses of the laser are required in one treatment.
To minimize the pain ice and a local anesthetic cream can be put on the tattoo site.You can also take Tylenol a few hours before the procedure. Products like aspirin should be avoided as they have a tendency to bruising.
In rare cases the surgeon will inject a local anesthetic into the tattoo before the laser treatment.
Talk to the surgeon before the procedure about ways to minimize the pain if this is something you worry about.
After each laser treatment your skin will be red and feel like it has sunburn. There may also be some bruising. When your tattoo has red in it, there may also some blister. Usually the blisters will heal within 7 days.
After the procedure an antibiotic ointment and a sterile dressing will be placed on the tattoo. The feeling of sunburn usually goes away after a couple of hours. The skin needs time to heal. You should avoid that the treated area comes in contact with water for a few days. The tattoo will fade over the next few weeks.
Side effects of laser treatments are usually few. If you scar badly from sunburn, you will have a problem with this method of tattoo removal.
Other side effects which can occur are:
-Hyper pigmentation (the skin becomes darker)
-Hypo pigmentation (the skin becomes lighter)
-There is also a small chance of scaring and infection.
-Incomplete removal of tattoo and skin discoloration.
There have been a few cases known of people who have suffered an allergic reaction after laser treatments to tattoo removal. This was caused by the ink released from the tattoo.
Tattoo removal is by no means cheap. Each laser session will cost between $100 and $1000 per session. The price per session depends on how big your tattoo is and how colorful. On average you will need 3-10 sessions. The amount of sessions you need depends on the depth of the tattoo, the amount, the color and composition of the ink used and on the skin color.
So the total cost can vary from a couple of hundred dollars for a small superficial black tattoo to thousands of dollars for a large professional colorful tattoo