What Technology Is Used For Tattoo Removal?
Nd:YAG laser produces the 1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths, which are the most popular wavelengths used in tattoo removal. The 1064nm wavelength is ideal for treating darker ink colors (black, blue, green) and the 532nm wavelength is effective against brighter ink colors (red, orange, yellow, brown, violet). The third wavelength – 694nm – precisely targets resistant ink shades such as vivid blue or green or certain blacks.
How Exactly Does The Laser Break Up The Tattoo Ink?
Two key processes break up the ink: (i) the pigment in your tattoo will absorb the energy from the laser and shatter into smaller pieces, and (2) the incredibly fast pulse of energy from the laser (at just 6 billionths of a second!) has a shockwave-like effect that assists the ink shattering. As a result, the ink acts like sugar cube breaking apart into smaller granules.
How Does The Body Remove The Shattered Ink?
Once the ink is broken down by the tattoo removal laser, the body will respond by moving fluid to the area to help flush away the ink. This immune response will be obvious to the patient in the form of some swelling and redness in the area. Over the following days/weeks/months, the small shattered ink particles will be flushed away naturally. The tattoo removal effects are not seen overnight, and 99% of tattoos require multiple treatments.
Why Do I Need Multiple Treatments?
All tattoos have layers of ink, stacked on top of each other within the skin. The thick concentration of pigment particles cannot be completely broken down in one session. We will go over your entire tattoo with our lasers, breaking up as much ink as possible in every session. Each session will produce some level of fading, although for very new tattoos the fading may not be as noticeable because the ink is still so thick and dense. If your tattoo has shading, the shaded areas will vanish in fewer treatments because shaded tattoos have a lower ink density.
How Many Sessions Will I Need To Remove My Tattoo?
The number of sessions needed to remove a tattoo depends on three factors: the age of the tattoo, the color of the ink, and the density of the ink.
- Age: Older tattoos can be removed with fewer treatments than newer tattoos. A black ink tattoo that is 10 years old may take one or two treatments fewer than a 1 year old black tattoo. A 20 year old tattoo may take two to three treatments fewer than a 1 year old tattoo.
- Color: Certain colors are more easily removed than others. Black and red tattoos are the easiest to remove. Orange, yellow, pink, purple, brown, and other shades are slightly more difficult to remove. The most difficult colors to remove are light green, light blue, and teal/turquoise. During the Free Consultation we will discuss the number of treatments you will likely need to remove certain colors.
- Location: Because tattoo removal depends on the body to flush away the shattered ink particles, areas of the body with less circulation often take more time to show results. The toes, fingers, ears, and nose are areas that may show slower results.
- Ink Density: Shading in a tattoo is easily removed. Some tattoos with letters use shading to fill in the outlines of the letters. Some tattoos with certain designs use shading for clouds or other visual effect. Shading will be removed in only a few sessions in most cases.
LASER TATTOO REMOVAL SIDE EFFECTS
Will The Laser Procedure Scar My Skin?
No. This is a question that many new patients ask about, and we understand their concerns. Modern tattoo removal lasers used at our clinic will not scar the skin for two reasons. Firstly, the laser does not go deep enough in the skin to cause a scarring response. Second, the pulse from the laser is so fast that only the tattoo pigmentation is affected and surrounding cells and tissue are left undamaged. Scarring was an issue 10 or 15 years ago when the equipment used for tattoo removal was relatively crude. There is no need to be concerned about scarring unless you have a history of keloid scarring, which our staff will discuss with you.
Does The Procedure Hurt?
Not really. Almost every patient we treat compares the feeling of the procedure with that of getting the tattoo applied, or less. A key difference is that laser tattoo removal is much quicker – most treatments take just 30 seconds to 2 minutes to complete. Patients compare the discomfort with that of a rubber band snapping against their skin. Black ink tattoos are slightly less uncomfortable to remove than colored tattoos, due to the wavelength of light we use to break up the ink.
What Side Effects Might I Experience?
Most patients experience some redness, swelling, and minor blistering of the skin after a laser treatment. These side effects are temporary and your skin will heal back completely. We provide our patients detailed aftercare instructions to help them manage their skin after the treatment.