Laser Tattoo Removal Overview
Laser tattoo removal is an effective, safe, and cost-effective way to remove your tattoo.
But how does it work? How does a laser effectively get rid of tattoo ink?
This article will explain all the details of how laser tattoo removal works.
Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Yes, it does work. And we’ll explain exactly how it works.
Laser tattoo removal works by targeting the ink particles deep within your skin.
Your tattoo ink is actually a semi-solid form in your skin.
The laser penetrates through your skin down to the ink particles and breaks those ink particles apart into solid forms.
You can think of it like a boulder being broken down into smaller rocks, and eventually into tiny pebbles.
After the ink is broken up, then the rest of the work is dependent on your immune system. Your body naturally sees tattoo ink as a foreign invader. From the moment you get a tattoo your body is trying to eliminate the ink. But the semi-solid form makes it difficult.
After the ink is broken up, your immune system works hard to flush the ink particles out of the body.
Tattoo Ink – Skin Interaction
The reason tattoos are permanent is because they are embedded into the deepest layer of skin, the dermis.
As we stated earlier, when a tattoo is applied, your immune system recognizes the ink as a foreign substance and sends macrophages to remove them immediately upon insertion.
Macrophages are a special type of white blood cell that eat up bacteria and other small particles. And these macrophages work hard to get rid of the tattoo ink.
Although the macrophages continuously eat away at the pigment particles over time, the deep insertion and large size of the ink particles makes them difficult to remove. This explains why tattoos remain permanently etched in the skin but gradually fade and lose color over time.
How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work? The Removal Process:
Laser tattoo removal helps speed up the natural fading process of tattoos by using light energy to break down the large ink particles. During treatment, our state-of-the-art Quanta EVO Nd:YAG laser gently emits ultra-quick pulses of light energy into the skin.
It’s important to note that different colors of ink require different wavelengths.
Black ink cannot be removed using the same wavelength that red ink needs.
So this laser has three different wavelengths used to effectively remove all different pigments of ink.
The 1064nm wavelength works best for darker ink, such as black, green, or blue. The 532nm wavelength works best with brighter colors – think of the reds, yellows, and oranges. The last wavelength isn’t used as often. It’s only used in certain situations where the other two wavelengths would not be effective. That wavelength is 694nm.
Why can’t tattoos be removed immediately? Why do I need multiple treatments?
Most patients need multiple treatments before achieving complete removal. The number of treatments needed is unique to you and your tattoo.
It takes time for your body to effectively get rid of the ink. Remember, tattoos are meant to be permanent, so the fact that laser technology even allows us to remove tattoos is incredible.
Think of the tattoo as an illness – if you were sick and needed to take medication to help you get better, you wouldn’t magically be healed right when you swallowed the pill.
It takes time for your body to use the medication to effectively heal your body.
And you’ll probably need more than one pill to get better. You may need to take a tablet every 12 hours for a couple of days.
It’s the same with tattoo removal: Your body needs time to flush out the ink particles.
There are many factors that determine how many treatments you’ll need, how quickly the process will take, and how effective the lasers will be at removing your tattoo.
There are different factors that determine how quickly your tattoo will be removed
Every person has a different body. Every person has different levels of health. And everyone has, for the most part, different tattoos with different types of ink.
Because of this, each person will experience different results and different time frames for removing their tattoos.
Here are the factors that influence laser tattoo removal:
1. Your health:
If someone is 60 years old, 100 pounds overweight, smokes cigarettes daily, never goes to the gym, and has depression or any other mental illnesses, then their 2-year old tattoo will probably take longer to remove than a 35 year old healthy individual who has a 15-year old tattoo.
2. The type of ink used
The FDA has not regulated tattoo ink. As a result, there are different ingredients in different types of inks. And different types of inks will take different amounts of time and energy to effectively remove.
3. The location of the tattoo
The more blood circulation an area has, the faster and more effective the tattoo removal process will be.
Areas like the neck and chest are near the heart and therefore have lots of good blood flow.
Conversely, areas like the fingers and feet don’t have great blood circulation, and as a result usually take longer.
Are there side effects?
Yes, there are potential side effects with laser tattoo removal.
As a reputable clinic with highly trained staff, we do our best to ensure that you experience no side effects. But, unfortunately, certain things are out of our control. Some people have very sensitive skin, and the with the laser being as powerful as it is, may experience some temporary adverse effects.
The most common temporary side effects are:
I’m nervous about scarring…
20 years ago, right when laser tattoo removal became a more common procedure, then this worry would be warranted. Today, the technology is so incredibly advanced that you will not experience any scarring.
The lasers are firing so quickly that the skin cells surrounding the tattoo ink are not affected. The only thing that is being targeted by the laser is the tattoo ink.
Is laser tattoo removal painful?
Tattoo removal can be uncomfortable. Some people find the treatment painful. Although that’s the case, we take every precaution to make the experience tolerable for you.
We use strong numbing cream and the Zimmer cooling system to mitigate the pain.
Also, the treatment itself usually takes less than one minute, so you don’t have to endure through long amounts of pain, like you did when you originally got your tattoo.
Is laser tattoo removal safe?
Unlike other tattoo removal methods, laser technology is completely safe, extremely effective, and noninvasive. Our lasers gently penetrate through the skin into the dermis to specifically target the unwanted ink without causing harm to the surrounding skin tissue.
For more information on this procedure, visit our FAQ’s page.