Getting Rid of Your Tattoo
Tired of your tattoo?
Don't despair; most tattoo colors can be eliminated or lightened by a laser.
Skin colored tattoos however, may undergo irreversible ink darkening. This includes white, pink, flesh-toned and light brown tattoo inks. Red ink tattoos may even turn black.
How Is It Removed?
There are a number of lasers that are used to remove tattoos. The principle is called selective thermolysis. Energy from a laser is targeted towards the carbon particles or dyes that are found in skin tattoos. This allows "selective destruction" of the foreign pigment while minimizing damage to your surrounding skin.
Will it hurt?
That depends on your pain threshold. When lower fluence is used, the degree of pain is often described as comparable to that of a rubber band snapping against the skin. You may need local anesthesia with higher fluences to eliminate any discomfort during the procedure.
How many treatments are necessary for tattoo removal?
Tattoos require multiple treatment sessions, usually performed at 4-8 week intervals or longer. Tattoo lightening may continue for several months after the last treatment session. Amateur black tattoos typically respond better than professional tattoos.
What can I expect afterwards?
You should expect some swelling and blistering during the first day or two after the procedure.
Immediately following treatments, white crusting may occur. Any resultant scab generally resolves in 10 to 14 days.
Upon healing, continued lightening of the tattoo can be observed for 4 to 8 weeks after each treatment session.
Wound care is required to aid the healing process and to prevent infection. Typically an antibiotic ointment and dressing changes are recommended.
Other recommendations include acetaminophen (like TylenolŪ) for pain, elevation of the treated area to counteract any local swelling, and sun avoidance to prevent tanning.
What about scarring?
Pigmentary changes may occur following laser treatment because the wavelengths used are also absorbed by melanin (the natural pigments in your skin). Your skin may either lighten or darken. The latter is more common following sun exposure. These changes may be transient or permanent.