How does Laser Tattoo Removal work?
Laser tattoo removal works by directing the energy of the laser toward the ink that is embedded in the dermis (deep tissue layers) of this skin, breaking up the ink into tiny particles that are later naturally flushed from the dermal tissue with the bodies own scavenging cells. The laser wavelength selectively targets the pigment of the tattoo without damaging the surrounding skin.
How many treatments are required to remove a tattoo?
The number of treatments required for total tattoo removal depends on a number of factors including the depth of the ink level into the dermis, the size of the tattoo, the color of the tattoo, its age, and if the tattoo was placed over a pre-existing scar.
Who are candidates for Laser Tattoo Removal?
Fair skinned individuals with superficially placed tattoos on the arms, chest, buttocks or legs are the best candidates for laser tattoo removal. Individuals with dark tans or dark complexions with tattoos on the ankles or fingers and areas where there is significantly little body fat are the most difficult to treat and the results of removal are variable.
What factors determine the success of Tattoo Removal?
Successful tattoo removal is based on several factors. The size of the tattoo, the location, the method of application, the age of the patient and the colors of the tattoo involved are all factors to be considered by the treating physician. Furthermore, the health of the patient and their individual ability to heal are also important for successful tattoo removal. Additionally, the newer the tattoo, the more difficult it is to remove. Some tattoos may be permanently removed and others permanently lightened.
Is Laser Tattoo Removal painful?
The removal of a tattoo by laser is considered a process with mild to moderate pain and discomfort. The pain level will vary for each patient and does not exceed the pain felt during the tattoo's initial application. Most physicians will recommend that the patient take a dose of Tylenol a few hours before the treatment in order to minimize discomfort during the procedure.
Other forms of pain medication are not recommended because they have a tendency to thin the blood and increase the potential for bleeding or bruising at the treatment site. The physician usually applies a local anesthetic ointment to the skin prior to treatment to minimize discomfort.
How long does each Laser Tattoo Removal Treatment take to complete?
Laser tattoo removal typically does not take more than a few minutes, yet the time frame depends on the size of the tattoo, the age of the tattoo and the skin conditions of the patient. If multiple sessions are required they are generally split over 4-8 week intervals.
What should be expected during the treatment session?
Once the patient has been prepared for treatment, protective eye-wear is worn by the patient as protection from the luminescence of the laser. The laser handset is applied to the surface area of the tattoo and treatment continues with rapid pulses of light being applied until the treatment is concluded. Typically, 10-30 pulses of light are required for the average tattoo.
What may be expected after a treatment session?
After each laser treatment, ice packs are immediately placed onto the tattoo in order to minimize swelling. After approximately 30 minutes, a topical ointment is applied onto the tattoo followed by a sterile dressing. The skin must remain dry for the next few days and should receive the same type of treatment that would be necessary when caring for a mild to moderate sunburn.
Are any side effects associated with Laser Tattoo Removal?
The side effects of laser procedures are few, but typically include hyperpigmentation (excessive color) or hypopigmentation (excessive fading) of skin color. Other possible side effects may include a local infection and a small chance of scarring. The treated area may appear sunburned for a few months but this redness will pass with time.
What is the cost of Laser Tattoo Removal?
Laser tattoo removal is billed as a cosmetic procedure and is typically not covered by medical health care insurance. Tattoo removal is usually more costly than tattoo placement and can range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. The exact cost varies based on the size, age, type, and location of the tattoo and the number of visits required for removal.
Disclaimer: This information is intended only as an introduction to this procedure. This information should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor does it guarantee results of your elective surgery. Further details regarding surgical standards and procedures should be discussed with your physician.
By Anti-Aging.org Staff
Updated: December 27, 2008