These days, lasers are the clear winner when it comes to the best and the most reliable techniques for tattoo removal. Fundamentally speaking, the laser energy has to be absorbed by the tattoo pigment. That means that the color of the laser beam must be absorbed by the color of the tattoo ink. It is easy to see that one laser can not treat all tattoo colors. The laser has to have specific characteristics - it must have the right wavelength of light (color) as well as enough power to do the job.

The wavelength of the laser must penetrate deep enough to reach the ink deposits as well as be absorbed by the ink that needs to be removed. Furthermore, the ink absorption must be more effective than the absorption of the surrounding normal skin. This calls for wavelength selectivity.

When the laser energy is absorbed by the pigment, the pigment breaks down and it is absorbed and eliminated by the body. Some tattoo pigments are easier to remove than others. In general, black and darker colored inks are easier to remove than yellows, greens and fluorescent colors. In some cases, the laser can change the color of the tattoo ink making it darker rather than less visible. 

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Are there any side effects of laser tattoo removal?

Most things in life have side effects. Any medical treatment has side effects as well. The most common side effect of laser tattoo removal is on your pocket - these treatments are not cheap. The cost depends on the size and the complexity of the tattoo being treated. In general, multiple treatment sessions are needed to fade the tattoo to an acceptable level.

Pain is also a frequent side effect of laser tattoo removal. Generally speaking, there is no such thing as painless tattoo removal. At the same time, we can use different modalities to help patients tolerate treatments better. In many cases, we use topical numbing creams that help alleviate laser discomfort. In addition, some patients may require local anesthesia or oral medications. In some cases, there is scarring. The scarring can result from the original tattoo placement or subsequent treatments. Generally speaking, scarring is not common but it can occur. Thick skinned areas are particularly at risk and it is more common in cases where the skin color is close to the tattoo color. It is very important that all patients have a consultation with a physician and the full scope of treatment options, expected results, and possible side effects are reviewed. Knowledge is power.


How many laser treatments do I need to have my tattoo removed?

One thing is certain - one laser treatment will likely not remove any tattoo. In general, multiple treatments are needed to treat a tattoo to a satisfactory level. There are many factors that determine the number of treatements needed for optimal results.

The amount of ink present – the more ink deposited to create the tattoo, the more treatments are needed to have it removed.

The area of the body needing treatment – it appears that the further a tattoo is located from the center of the body, the greater the number of treatments that will be needed.

The color of the tattoo – there needs to be a differnece between the skin color and the tattoo ink color. The best tattoo color to be removed is black ink on white skin. Paradoxically, the lighter the color of the tattoo, the harder it is to remove.

The skin color of the person – as mentioned above, we need to have color contrast between the ink and the skin. In particular, the darker the skin color of the person, the harder it is to treat the tattoo. In this circumstance, lower laser energies are needed to be used necessitating greater number of treatments.

Tattoo layering – some artists layer their tattoos. This technique is designed to produce unique artistic effects. At the same time, the more layers the tattoo has, the more difficult it is to remove it.


What are the costs of tattoo removal?

For many patients the cost of tattoo removal is not as important as the final result. The decision to have a tattoo adorn our body is as important as the decision to have it removed. Both involve a certain degree of permanency and need careful consideration. Generally speaking, the cost of removing a tattoo is much greater than the cost of having it applied to your body. When it comes to laser tattoo removal, the cost depends on the size of the tattoo and the number of treatments needed. It can range from several hundreds to several thousands of dollars. It is important that one knows the approximate cost of adequate tattoo removal prior to the initiation of therapy as partially treated tattoos do not represent the actual tattoo and, at the same time, do not represent a removed tattoo.

Tattoo removal is becoming more and more common as more and more people decide to have tattoos in the first place. With so many people committing to tattoos, it is impossible for everyone to be happy with them, which results in the necessity of their removal. Fortunately, the latest laser tattoo removal options are excellent. Please seek professional assessment of your tattoo prior to undergoing the treatments. It is important that you see a physician with adequate laser experience and technology.

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