Tattooing is a type of body modification which involves the insertion of ink into the dermis layer of the skin. The methods used for the removal of tattoos include dermabrasion, excision, chemical removal, laser therapy, etc. It is essential to opt for a method that lowers the risk of scarring. The results depend on the location, size, method of tattoo application, and individual’s ability to heal. Today, laser tattoo removal is most commonly preferred method. It involves the use of Q-switched laser, wherein pulses of highly concentrated lights to break the ink into small fragments.
First of all, you need to find a reputable cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist to ensure appropriate treatment. The number of sessions may vary, depending upon color and size of tattoo. This procedure is quite safe due to its non-invasive nature.
The procedure for the removal of a tattoo through laser beams involves the following steps:
- The patient’s eyes are covered with protective eye shields.
- The reaction of the skin to laser is tested to determine the most effective energy.
- A hand piece is placed against the surface of skin. After that, the laser light is activated. Patient may feel each pulse like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin or grease splatter.
- Larger tattoos need more pulses, while smaller ones may require fewer. In many cases, tattoos need multiple visits and numerous treatment sessions. During every treatment session, tattoo should progressively get lighter.
- The application of an ice pack to the affected area immediately after treatment can help soothe the area. It is followed by the application of a topical antibiotic ointment or cream. The treatment site is protected using a bandage, and a sunscreen should be applied to protect it from the sunlight.
In most patients, anesthesia is not necessary. However, doctors may prefer to use some kind of anesthesia such as a painkiller injection at the treatment site or topical anesthesia cream, depending upon the location of tattoo and patient’s ability to tolerate pain. Old tattoos can be easily removed as compared to newer ones. The procedure may last for about 15 – 40 minutes and it may require multiple sessions of about 4 – 8 weeks for complete tattoo removal.
The high-intensity beams are applied only to a selective area. This method significantly reduces the possibilities of scarring. Lasers have variable pulse durations, and different wavelengths and specific colors absorb different laser beams. This makes it possible for the physician to select a precise combination of lasers for the color and depth for multi-colored tattoos. Although some changes in skin color and texture are unavoidable, the skin appears more natural and uniform after treatment.
This procedure has very few side effects. These may include hypo-pigmentation or hyper-pigmentation of skin. Other possible side effects are infection at the treatment site or the possibility of permanent scarring. The treated area may appear like a sunburn for some months, before the skin becomes normal. Laser treatment may also give rise to burns or other injuries. Cosmetic tattoos such as eyeliner, lip liner or eyebrows may become dark after the treatment. To minimize these risks, you need to carefully follow the instructions given by the dermatologist.