Having second thoughts about your tattoo? If so, you are not alone. An estimated ten million people in the United States have at least one tattoo. Studies show that as many as 90% of them want their tattoo removed. Recent advances in laser technology have made tattoo removal possible with minimal discomfort and no scarring.
How does laser tattoo removal work?
Medical lasers use an intense beam of light to remove the tattoo ink while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy skin. The light energy is delivered in very short pulses of light that are absorbed by the ink particles of the tattoo. This energy breaks the ink particles into tiny fragments which are then absorbed through your bodies natural cleansing system.
What are the alternatives to laser treatment?
Other options for tattoo removal include surgical excision, dermabrasion, and chemical peels. These methods are more invasive and painful, and often result in significant scarring.
What are the treatments like?
Most patients say they feel a slight sting, like the snap of a thin rubber band with each pulse of laser light. Most patients do not require anesthesia, but an anesthetic cream or injection may be used if needed.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required for maximum improvement depends upon the size, location, depth, and color of the tattoo. On average, professional tattoos require 5-6 treatments while amateur tattoos require 2-4 treatments spaced 4-8 weeks apart. Treatment sessions usually take from 10-15 minutes.
Do all colors of ink disappear equally as well?
No, dark (blue/black) inks and red inks fade the best. Oranges and purples usually respond well. Green and yellow inks are the most difficult to remove, although treatment can produce significant fading.
Will the tattoo completely disappear?
In many cases, yes. Greater than 95% fading of the tattoo may be accomplished. However, it is very important to know that over 100 tattoo inks are in use worldwide today, none of which are regulated by the FDA. Not knowing which tattoo ink, how deep, or how much was used makes it impossible to predict the degree of removal on any given tattoo.