Things You Didn’t Know About Laser Tattoo Removal

If you’re thinking of having a tattoo removed, you’re in good company. About 30% of all Americans decide to obtain a tattoo at some point, and about 25% eventually regret that decision and wish it could be removed.

In the past, your options for tattoo removal included surgery or various forms of dermabrasion that use chemicals or salt to scrape away the artwork, along with several layers of skin. All of these methods carry risks of scarring and other complications and frequently provide less than desirable results.

Early laser tattoo removal was less invasive and showed improved outcomes over previous methods but often left behind a shadow of the tattoo, was only recommended for certain skin types, and addressed only certain ink colors.

Dr. Yohe is happy to explain how improved laser technology increases the effectiveness of laser tattoo removal and why she uses the most advanced system available — the Cutera® enlighten™ — to help her patients say goodbye to their once-beloved body art.

How lasers work on tattoos

For tattoo removal, lasers produce focused light energy that’s designed to pass harmlessly through your skin and target the ink used in your tattoo. It doesn’t melt the tattoo ink. Instead, it breaks the ink into tiny particles that your body disposes of through your lymph system and other natural processes.

Tattoo inks are tricky in that colors absorb laser energy differently. Black and dark green are typically the easiest to remove, while fluorescent inks and shades of yellow, purple, and turquoise are the most difficult.

The laser’s ability to fragment a complete color range of tattoo ink depends on its wavelength and pulse duration. The Cutera enlighten system we use at Ideal Weight Loss combines dual wavelengths and multiple pulse durations to increase the speed, effectiveness, and safety of the de-inking process.

The quicker the pulse, the less time it takes to remove your tattoo

Technological advances in the 1980s created medical laser systems that supplied pulse durations measured in nanoseconds, or one billionth of a second. That’s fast but not fast enough to remove many dense or multicolored tattoos.

The technology used in Cutera’s enlighten system offers pulse durations of one trillionth of a second (called a picosecond). This speed means your tattoo fades faster with treatment sessions that last from 15-30 minutes overall, and you typically need fewer treatments compared to older laser systems.

Even with picosecond technology, however, your tattoo does not fade overnight. You can expect to see results after one to two treatments, but the number of treatments you require for optimal results depends on the depth, size, and color of your tattoo. Most patients are satisfied after three to six treatments.

Interestingly, older tattoos and those done by amateur tattoo artists tend to respond more quickly to laser removal. We discuss in detail what you can expect and how long we think the process might take after we’ve had time to evaluate your unwanted tattoo.

You don’t have to experience discomfort with laser tattoo removal

Many patients report that the discomfort associated with laser tattoo removal is less than what they experienced when they obtained the tattoo. We can supply a topical numbing agent to use before the treatment that helps eliminate even the mild stinging sensation the laser produces.

Aftercare is easy

We provide complete home-care instructions following a laser removal session, but aftercare essentially involves keeping the treatment area clean and covered for about a week.

You may experience sensitivity at the site that feels somewhat like a mild sunburn, but the energy from the laser targets the tattoo ink and not your skin, so side effects are minimal. It’s important to avoid sun exposure during the healing process as well, but you can otherwise expect to return to work and other normal activities after laser tattoo removal.

If you’re interested in learning more about laser tattoo removal, call our Round Rock or Georgetown office today to schedule your consultation or book your visit online.

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