How Does Laser Tattoo Removal Work?

Laser tattoo removal is an effective, non-invasive way to remove unwanted ink. Before laser removal technology, the only way you could remove a tattoo was with surgery or creams. Surgical methods can lead to considerable scarring, and lotions can’t reach the deep layers of your skin, rendering them ineffective. The best way to remove a tattoo is through laser treatment, which is why Satin Med Spa in Charlotte, NC, offers the latest tattoo removal technology.

How Does It Work?  

Most tattoos contain thousands of permanent ink particles that are protected from being soaked up by your immune system. As the ink absorbs the energy from the light, it heats up and breaks down into small fragments, which helps your immune system flush out the ink particles and makes the tattoo lighter. Each treatment continuously breaks down the ink until your tattoo is completely gone. Some colors are more difficult to remove than others, so treatment typically requires multiple appointments.

During a laser tattoo removal process, an experienced medical provider who has specialized training and certifications will guide a laser over the area your tattoo covers. Unlike a traditional laser that produces a steady beam of light, the laser used for tattoo removal has pulses of light, penetrating your skin and getting absorbed by the ink.

The Breakdown Process

Using pulses of light energy to break down tattoo ink is called Q-Switching. The laser produces pulses of energy, each one lasting only nanoseconds. Since tattoo ink particles are very tiny, they only need to be heated up for a few brief seconds before breaking down. Once they are small enough, your body will naturally flush them away.

What Does It Do to Your Skin?

There is no need to worry about damaging your skin in the process of laser tattoo removal. Skin cells are more extensive than ink particles and require more heat before they can break down. Light pulses from a laser make it possible only to affect the ink on your skin. During your treatment, the skin surrounding your tattoo will stay safe and intact.

Does It Work On Colored Ink?

Laser tattoo treatments work very well on black and colored ink. Different colored tattoos absorb and reflect different wavelengths of light at different rates. Depending on what colors you have on your body, your practitioner will use other colored laser lights to absorb the ink. For example, red absorbs green light and reflects red light, so your doctor would treat a red tattoo with a green light.

1064 nm and 532 nm wavelengths are effective in removing 95% of multicolored tattoos. If your tattoo is filled with rare colors or different shades, your doctor can use 755 nm and 694 nm wavelengths to target those areas.

Which Is the Best Laser for Removing Tattoos?

There are several laser technologies available to aid in tattoo removal. Some of the most well-known ones are RevLite, Astanza, Palomar and Spectra, AlexELETE, ND Yag, and Q-Switched Ruby. While these methods were once considered among the most effective, the latest technology has arrived and set new laser tattoo removal standards.

Satin Med Spa removes tattoos using PicoSure, a new technology by Cynosure, which uses picoseconds to break down ink particles instead of nanoseconds. PicoSure is currently the most advanced ink removal laser on the market and the only of its kind.

How Many Treatments Are Needed?  

A single laser removal treatment will not break down all of the ink in a single session in most cases. Since the ink is injected at different depths into your skin, it will require different wavelengths at various levels before the particles can shatter.

Traditionally, laser tattoo removal is a long-term commitment, usually lasting up to several months for most patients. During your first few treatments, the laser light will target the ink on the shallowest layers of your skin. Once your body breaks down the ink on the surface layers, the light can then penetrate the ink at deeper layers.

Your Skin Needs Time to Heal 

On average, it can take five to 20 treatments spaced at least six weeks apart to remove a tattoo from your body altogether. You have to wait so long between treatments because your body can also flush away the ink so fast, and waiting for as long as possible can help you achieve maximum fading. The waiting period also protects your skin from blisters, scabs, and anything else that could lead to damage.

Picosecond lasers work much faster than Q-switched lasers and can deliver light energy within a trillionth of a second. These lasers can provide wavelengths of 532 nm, 755 nm, and 1,064 nm within 300-750 picoseconds. Though faster and more effective than their counterparts, you will still have to undergo waiting periods in between each treatment, as your skin will even need time to heal regardless of the method you use.

Preparing for Your Laser Removal

When you are preparing to have your tattoo removed by a laser, there are a few steps you will need to take before each session. It is best to shower right before you come in to ensure that your skin is clean of any oils, lotions, or other topical products that cause photosensitivity. If there is hair around the treatment area, it is ideal to shave before your appointment.

What to Expect During Removal

After reviewing your medical history, the desired outcome, and walking you through the process, your practitioner will clean the treatment area with an alcohol solution and proceed with treatment. You will both need to wear special eyewear that protects your eyes from the light emitted from the device.

Before your treatment, you should avoid the sun and UV-light exposure and discontinue the use of tanning beds or self-tanning products four weeks beforehand. Applying an SPF 30 sunblock to your skin for a couple of days before your appointment is also advisable.

Tattoo Removal Aftercare

After completing treatment, the affected area may feel irritated for a few days. Avoid tanning beds for a month, and if you have to go out in the sun, cover the treated area with a non-stick bandage. You should also avoid strenuous exercise for 24-48 hours and contact sports for up to 10 days.

Like getting a tattoo, you will have to clean the treated area once a day with a mild soap before patting it dry and applying a triple antibiotic ointment for one week. It is essential not to take a bath, swim, or use a Jacuzzi for three weeks. You will return in a couple of weeks for your follow up and next session.

Laser Tattoo Removal FAQ

1. How Long Does Each Session Take?

The length of each session will vary depending on the size of your tattoo. While it is possible to remove a tiny tattoo in just minutes, a session for a medium-sized design may last for up to 15 minutes. Sessions, where you are removing a large tattoo, can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Huge tattoos require multiple sessions throughout the year. Other factors that affect how long each session takes are tattoo type, location, and color.

Dark-colored tattoos can take longer to fade because they need to absorb more heat. If your tattoo is in a sensitive area, your appointment may require extra time to ensure that all areas are covered. Multicolored tattoos have to be broken down with different wavelengths of light, so depending on how colorful your ink is, consider how much time it will take for your practitioner to switch between settings.

2. Does It Hurt?

PicoSure lasers are designed to deliver a comfortable experience. Your doctor will numb your skin before, during, and after treatment using lidocaine or a topical anesthetic so you won’t have to worry about any sensitivity.

3. Is It Safe?

Laser too removals are safe as long as the treatment is performed by a certified professional specializing in tattoo removal. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) ha
s approved several methods for removing tattoos, including laser technology. While laser removal services are becoming a trend in places like spas, you can count on the safest experience by going to a certified dermatologist.

4. Will There Be Scarring?

Many patients want their skin to look as normal as possible after a tattoo removal and are commonly worried about scarring. Scarring is a very uncommon occurrence as long as your practitioner uses proper protocols during treatment, and you follow the aftercare instructions correctly. Any scarring that does appear is likely original scarring that occurred when you initially had the tattoo applied.

5. How Much Does It Cost?

A PicoSure treatment cost will vary depending on how many sessions it will take to eliminate the ink and the area size and color(s). While this treatment can cost you up to $1,000 on average, the general range falls between $75 and $3,300. Some patients find the cost often falls between the $400 and $300 range. Insurance does not cover PicoSure or any other laser treatment. We will discuss specific pricing information during your initial consultation.

Benefits of Using Lasers to Remove Ink

Faster Treatment

Compared to Q-switching treatments, PicoSure treatments can treat larger areas quicker and more effectively. This kind of technology can treat a size up to 15.5 milliliters at once, while other lasers can only target a fourth of an area that size.  

Short Treatments

Since laser technology works very quickly, most removal sessions are relatively fast, although bigger and darker tattoos will require multiple visits over a monthly period.

No Downtime

Any tattoo removed with laser technology requires minimal to no downtime, which means that you can smoothly go about your daily routine and won’t have to worry about needing to take time off work or reschedule special events.

Your Body Agrees

PicoSure lasers work with your body to speed up the healing process using pressure waves. The waves will naturally help your body increase its production of collagen and elastin and enlist in the lymphatic system’s help to absorb the broken down ink particles.

High Patient Satisfaction

Multiple clinical surveys have shown that most patients who undergo laser removal treatment are pleased with the outcome. Our office is known for being one of the best in Charlotte and many patients drive from hours away to meet with our specialists.

Is Laser Tattoo Removal Right For You?

If you have an embarrassing tattoo that sounded like a good idea at the time, or if you find that your ink is interfering with your professional or dating life, consider getting rid of them with a laser treatment. This method is safe, efficient, precise, and is performed right in the office as an outpatient treatment. To determine if this treatment is right for you, call Satin Med Spa in Charlotte, NC, today to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly trained medical professionals.

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