Laser Tattoo Removal

What are Tattoos and what methods take them off?

Tattoos are created by injecting either Indian (non-professional) or professional ink deep into the sub-cutaneous layer which is the layer of skin between the dermis and the hyperdermis in our bodies.  In order to remove a tattoo, the method of removal must penetrate down deep past the epidermis into the dermis to the subcutaneous layer.

There are other less effective and less than safe methods of tattoo removal that have been used throughout history.  Some of these methods result in great pain and high risk and have even left the patient with scars, infection or other negative side effects.

These have included:

  • Removing the tattoo with an acid solution
  • IPL (using Intense Pulsed Light to denaturalize the pigment)
  • Dermabrasion (using and abrasive substance to rub it off)
  • Excision (to surgically remove the tattoo)
  • Salabrasion (to put saline on the tattoo and then use a form of dermabrasion)
  • Saline tattooing (tattooing with saline to dilute the ink)

The Laser is designed to target a specific depth of penetration determined by the medium the light passes through.  Alma’s Laser Tattoo head has 2 different tips that address two different categories of color. One is for the dark colors and other for the lighter colors. Also, we have the new Palomar Q-YAG-5 has a blended setting that can address colors that typically harder to remove as turquoise and lighter greens.

Laser Tattoo Removal generally is thought to be the most widely accepted and safest method used for Tattoo Removal as it does not involve ablating the skin or causing blood loss which can lead to infection or scarring.   A Q-Switched (of various wavelengths) as a 1064nm ND:YAG laser emits rapid light pulses that break apart the ink.  The 1064nm Q-Switch is well suited to remove ink that is black or navy or any dark colors.  The 532nm setting can address lighter colors as reds, oranges and some yellows.

What will the laser do to the Tattoo and will it remove all of it?

The Q-Switch laser will!  It removes the pigment by using rapid pulses of coherant, monochromatic laser light (typically from a Q-Switch ND:Yag 1064nm or 532nm laser or a Ruby 694nm or Alexandrite 755nm). The pulsed light attracts to the target which is the pigment in the ink itself. It heats the pigment up within the skin and it then breaks it apart into tinier fragments of pigment.  The reason most tattoos stay in the skin is because the particles of ink are too large for the body’s lymphatic system to work their way out.  But after the laser’s light breaks up the pigment, the pigment’s particles are much smaller and can be worked out by the body’s natural scavenger..the lymphatic system.

Will I see immediate results after the treatment?

Laser Tattoo removal is often a slow process but it depends on the type and amount of ink, location of the tattoo (ie: tattoos on the extremities may take longer) the health of the individual and the way the person’s lymphatic system removes foreign particles and also the laser strength, wavelength and duration itself.  Black and dark inks are typically easier to remove with the 1064nm Q-Switch ND:YAG,  than red, yellow and orange inks (with the 532nm tip) but the toughest color is usually Turquoise or Light Green.  Our Palomar Q-YAG-5 can do the blended setting to also remove harder colors as light greens and turquoises.  Other lasers can also be used to remove the harder colors of light green and turquoise as the Ruby 694nm or the Alexandrite 755nm Q-Switch.

Here at Lase-Away Hair and Skin Solutions, we have the 1064nm and 532nm Alma Q-Switch (ND:YAG) and also have the Palomar Q-YAG-5.  Therefore we can take almost every color with the combination of lasers.

Where are the most common areas treated?

These include the face, neck, chest, thighs, knees, hands and arms. Approximately 8 – 20 treatments may be needed spaced out around 6-8 of weeks apart to see progressive results.

Will it hurt or will I have any side effects?

Pain management is used in the form of ice packs and lidocaine numbing gel in the area of treatment as well as Calendula Gel and use of a Zimmer hose to blow cold air which offsets the heat. The ice is applied 30 minutes prior and during the treatment.  It is said to feel like a slap or pinch. It is not comfortable, but most do not feel it as much after the topical anesthetic and ice are put on. Most get used to the treatment within 20-40 seconds after they have grown accustomed to the initial sensation. Tylenol can be taken prior to the visit.

Tattoo removal should be done by a trained professional as side effects include:

  • burning
  • scarring
  • infection
  • hyper – pigmentation
  • hypo – pigmentation

to name a few.

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