How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work

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Laser Tattoo Removal

It is estimated that almost 30 percent of people in the United States have one or more tattoos. Unfortunately, almost a quarter of tattoo owners regret their decision.

If you find yourself regretting your tattoo choice, laser tattoo removal can erase the tattoo with almost no side effects.

How Laser Tattoo Removal Works

Laser tattoo removal works by dissolving the pigmented areas of skin with a high-intensity light beam. Black tattoos are the easiest to remove since they absorb all wavelengths emitted by the laser. Colored tattoos require select lasers targeted to specific colors.

If you have a regrettable tattoo, consider scheduling a consultation with a highly-skilled laser specialist to evaluate your ink and determine the best route of removal. A variety of factors affect the process of tattoo removal. How many treatments you will require depends on how long you have had the tattoo, how big it is, and whether the tattoo is black or colored. Additionally, the pigment of your skin and how deep the tattoo pigment is located also play a role in successful removal.

Safety Procedures During Tattoo Removal

Generally, the following specific safety procedures are followed during the tattoo removal process:

  • The technician will protect your eyes with specially designed eye goggles
  • Your skin will be tested for its reaction to the laser to determine the appropriate beam energy for the procedure
  • The laser technician will pass the laser beams through the surface of the skin to specifically target the tattoo pigment
  • The smaller the tattoo, the less light beams that will be required for removal
  • Several treatment will be needed to completely remove the tattoo
  • Each visit should result in increasing improvements

Although laser tattoo removal can be painful, most patients do not require anesthesia. If your tattoo is located in an especially sensitive area, you may want to consider applying a topical anesthetic prior to the procedure.

Upon completing the procedure, it is recommended to promptly apply an ice pack to soothe and calm the treated skin. It is also beneficial to use an antibiotic cream and bandage to protect the tender skin. Also, the use of sunscreen is crucial.

Potential Side Effects

Compared to other tattoo removal techniques such as excision, dermabrasion, or salabrasion, laser treatment is often the safest method due to its ability to specifically target pigmented areas while leaving surrounding skin untouched. Although laser tattoo removal is quite safe, there are some side effects to be aware of:

  • The treated site is at an increased risk of developing an infection
  • There is a chance the treatment will leave a permanent scar
  • You may be left with some remnants of your tattoo
  • Black and blue tattoos respond especially while to treatment while other colors may be more stubborn to treat
  • You may experience hypopigmentation, a condition where the skin is lighter in color than the surrounding skin
  • You may also experience hyperpigmentation, a condition where the skin ends up darker than the skin around it

Tattoos that are cosmetic in nature such as lip liner, eyebrows, and eyeliner may end up darker in color after treatment but do eventually fade with additional sessions.

The Importance of a Skilled, Reputable Doctor

It is essential to find a respected dermatologist or cosmetic surgery clinic with experience removing tattoos. Consider asking your primary care physician for recommendations for a laser removal technician.

Since tattoo removal is a cosmetic issue, the majority of insurance providers will not cover removal unless it is deemed medically necessary. Depending on the physician, you may be required to cover the entire cost on the day of treatment. If you have a tattoo you are considering getting rid of, be sure to determine all necessary costs up front and obtain a clear form covering the cost breakdown prior to moving forward with the procedure.