Laser Tattoo Removal

Tattoo Removal Before and After

A multicolored tattoo containing red immediately after treatment with a Q-switched ruby laser is shown. Although the entire tattooed area was treated, the red pigment appears as if it was intentionally avoided.

 

How Does Tattoo Removal Work?

Tattoo dyes consist of pigmented solid particles. In the same way as other pigmented lesions, these pigmented particles can be targeted by a dedicated laser and eliminated.

Different tattoos might require different types of laser in order to remove them, depending on the type of ink, the color, and the depth of the tattoo.

Q-Switch lasers release high-powered pulses of extremely short duration. The intense and rapid heating induced by light absorption leads to a photo-thermal effect. As the chromophore is heated, it undergoes sudden thermal expansion generating shock waves audible as a popping sound with each laser pulse. This photo-acoustic effect generates forces that allow fragmenting tattoo pigment particles. The pigment treated this way gradually becomes shallower over time until it fades away. The peripheral tissues remain unaltered making the treatment selective and safe.

Tattoo Removal Before and After

Tattoos containing green before (A, C), and after (B) multiple treatments with Q-switched Nd:YAG and alexandrite lasers, or the Nd:YAG and ruby lasers (D). Residual green pigment can be seen in both cases.

 

How does the laser work?

The laser delivers high intensity light in pulses of a few billionths of a second into the treated area. The tattoo inks selectively absorb the light without damaging the normal surrounding skin tissue in the process. The tattoo ink is broken into smaller particles that are then harmlessly removed by the body in the weeks following treatment.

How many treatments will it require?

Removing a professionally applied tattoo is usually a fading process that requires a series of treatments spaced at least 6 weeks apart. Professional tattoos usually require 5-10 treatment sessions for satisfactory clearing. The depth, color and amount of ink, as well as the location of the tattoo on the body are all determining factors in how quickly the tattoo can be removed. Most amateur, ‘street tattoos” and traumatic tattoos are removed in fewer treatments.

What about lightening an existing tattoo?

Many tattoo artists encourage customers to receive a minimum number of laser treatments to lighten an existing tattoo before covering it with a new one. This will dramatically reduce any chance of the old tattoo appearing through the new one. In most cases, a minimum of 2-4 treatments is all that’s required to lighten an existing tattoo.