And while there are many reasons for getting a tattoo removed – because of job restrictions, an ex’s name, or simply the regret of doing something “stupid” while being young.
But can all types of tattoos be removed?
Some tattoos extend deeper into the skin than others, which renders removal more difficult, while others are easier by comparison. So yes, your tattoo can be removed. It may be slightly painful to remove your tattoo, but it’s worth it.
This article will share the details of all different types of tattoos and if they can be removed.
It is the placement within the dermal layer that gives tattoos their permanency. As the epidermis flakes over the years, the ink remains trapped within the dermis for long-lasting art. Therefore, for removal, the ink must be destroyed, which is much harder and more painful than the initial application.
As for the types of tattoos, the first and most common would be the professional tattoo. These tattoos are created with a tattoo machine and set within the deep layer of the dermis, with the intention of permanency. Generally, these types of tattoos require numerous removal treatments to be effective.
Permanent makeup is the most common use of cosmetic tattoos. Though it’s usually on a much smaller scale than other tattoos, pigmented ink is still injected into the skin for enhancing facial features and saving time on makeup application. For instance, common uses of cosmetic tattoos are permanent eyeliner, filled eyebrows, lip liner, and lipstick. Oftentimes, colors other than black or blue are used for these tattoos, which can result is a greater removal difficulty. Colors such as red, white, green, nude, or brown can be very difficult to effectively remove.
Amateur tattoos often result when someone tattoos out of their home. These are risky and can come with a number of complications. However, these tattoos also tend to be easier to remove due to the fact that they are usually set in a more superficial skin layer. Additionally, they are often placed by using homemade needles or homemade machines, so they aren’t as permanent as professionally done tattoos.
Occasionally, tattoos are used in the medical field. This can be for identification, such as when a Medical Alert ID is tattooed onto the skin in replacement of a bracelet, or for marking in certain situations or experiments. The removal of medical tattoos more than likely has an average effectiveness, as they are placed by professionals.
Tribal tattoos use a lot of ink. The ink density is usually higher than for regular tattoos. With that being said, we can still tribal tattoos – oftentimes they’ll just take a couple of extra treatments compared to your average tattoos.
You can see our success with tribal tattoos by looking at the image below.
Black Ink Tattoos:
Black ink tattoos are the most common tattoos that are removed, since the majority of people have black ink tattoos.
With our Trinity Laser, we use the laser frequency of 1064nm to remove dark ink tattoos.
This laser is extremely effective in removing black ink tattoos – you can take a look at the image below with one of our patients who successfully removed a black ink tattoo.
Color tattoos require different laser wavelengths than do regular black ink tattoos. But, due to the advanced technology of Q-Switched Lasers, we are able to effectively remove all colors of tattoos.
We can remove blue ink tattoos using a Q-Switched laser.
Depending on the shade of blue, we will have to use different lasers. For dark blues we will use the 1064nm. For brighter blues we will use the 755nm. This laser is more powerful than the 1064nm and works great for removing blues.
Take a look at one of our tattoo removal before and after pictures for blue ink below.
Red ink tattoos can be removed using a 532nm laser. This laser also works for other warm tones such as yellow.
The image below shows a successful removal for a red tattoo.
Green is a similar shade of color to blue, so we use the same laser as we do for blue ink. This is the 755nm laser.
We get great results removing green ink tattoos.
The image below proves our success for green ink tattoo removal.
Just as blue is similar to green, orange is similar to red. So we use the same wavelength as red, the 532nm laser, to effectively remove orange ink tattoos.
The picture below shows how we removed an orange ink tattoo.
Bright Colored Ink:
Bright colors are the hardest to remove. While they’re more difficult, it’s definitely possible to remove bright colored tattoos.
The Process of Laser Removal
In past times, the removal of tattoos has been destructive and damaging, ranging from a number of procedures and commonly involving the surgical excision of the tattoo. As tattoos are deep within the skin, these practices often resulted in extensive scarring. Laser technology has completely revolutionized tattoo removal near most major cities, and though it is still painful, it doesn’t compare to the invasive procedures of past years.
When tattoos are created, the ink is absorbed by macrophages, mast cells, and fibroblasts. The ink granules remain bound within them, which keeps your tattoo in place within the dermal layer of your skin. Laser removal uses short bursts of light to rupture these cells, which in turn, releases the ink. The ink is then disposed of through the lymphatic system, or scavenged by other cells, eventually lightening the tattoo.
As treatment is continued, varying wavelengths of the light can be used in reaction to the tattoo’s response to previous treatments, the color of the ink, and the skin type of the patient. If all goes well, laser treatments are usually repeated once every eight weeks.
There are three laser types that are commonly used today in current dermatology practices. The first is considered the QS (Quality-switched) ruby laser, which was first available in 1983. This laser was soon followed by the QS Nd: YAG laser and the QS alexandrite laser. All of these lasers are considered effective, though the lasers have different purposes for tattoo removal, such as the size, depth, age, and color of the tattoo. Additionally, there have been studies recently showing the difference in picosecond lasers versus the traditional nanosecond lasers. Picosecond lasers can make a great difference in the pigmentation by having a shorter pulse duration, which results in more focused targeting and rupturing of the capsules.
Recently, there have been procedures known as combination laser treatment, which has been thought to be quite practical for greater success with tattoo removal. The idea behind this procedure involves applying laser treatment, and then within a few days, following up with a skin resurfacing and exfoliation. This combination has shown great results for removing pigmentation.
Traditional tattoo removal usually requires numerous visits with several weeks in-between for healing. However, there is another alternative procedure being explored, which is called the “multi-pass” technique. In a nutshell, this means cutting down on the number of visits by going over the tattoo with the laser multiple times in the same visit. This is completed with four “passes” over the tattoo, after twenty-minute increments between the treatments. The twenty-minutes gives time for the initial whitening to fade so the remaining tattoo ink reappears, and is ready for another go.
The Bottom Line
In the end, the success of tattoo removal greatly depends on the type of tattoo, the type of skin, and the laser used. Some lasers, such as the QS ruby laser, are more effective on dark black and blue tattoos, while others, such as the QS Nd: YAG are more effective on colors such as red and green. The patient’s consultation should provide answers for the best approach to removing the tattoo, whether in numerous, multi-pass, or combination treatments. With laser removal, there will always be the potential of a remaining outline or shadow, but it does provide an option for individuals looking for a less noticeable tattoo.
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