How Does Tattoo Removal Work?
Tattoo of a bird

How Does Tattoo Removal Work?

Tattoos are a common practice within society.  Many people get tattoos and then decide to conceal or remove them.  Make-up is a temporary cover-up solution, but there are people who are looking for a permanent removal solution.  If you are interested in having your tattoos removed, read to the end to learn how it works, what the options are, and how safe it is for your skin.

How Tattoo Removal Works

Laser beams are used to remove tattoos.  The process does not deliver a continuous laser beam; instead, it pulsates and penetrates the skin.  The ink of the tattoo then absorbs the energy.  This process heats the ink and then shatters it into minute particles that the body can process over time.  More than one treatment is necessary to remove a tattoo, and the process varies from patient to patient.

Variables Involved In Tattoo Removal

Not all tattoos are black.  Therefore, it takes a variety of lasers to remove tattoos successfully.  The need for different lasers directly relates to the fact that different colors absorb different wavelengths of light at different rates.  This is why it may take one patient five treatments while a different patient may need ten treatments.  Treatments are spaced apart in 6-week intervals to allow the skin time to recover.  It will take time to remove a tattoo completely, and as with any treatment, there will be sensitivity to the area.

If you have liver issues, it is wise to speak with your healthcare practitioner before making an appointment to have your tattoo removed.  The ink that breaks down is processed through the liver, so it is important to discuss liver problems with your doctor before proceeding.  Keep in mind that a healthy liver will have minimal to no issues, but a liver that is already struggling could end up with adverse effects.

Cost Of Tattoo Removal

Tattoo removal can be costly, with treatments ranging from $300-$1,000.  This cost is for each session, and most tattoos will not be removed in one session.  When deciding how much a session will cost, certain factors are considered, and only a skilled dermatologist can provide you with an accurate estimate regarding your case.

If you are serious about removing a tattoo, then it is wise to avoid gimmick products that are offered online and in stores.  Many products are simply bleaching agents that will not even penetrate beyond the skin’s surface, much less erase a tattoo that is no longer wanted.

Tattoo Removal Options

  • Tattoo removal creams – This method has not been as effective as laser removal  
  • Q-switching – The least invasive and most effective removal rate
  • PicoSure – Effective for lightening and fading tattoos
  • Injections – There is little proof to show this method is successful, and it is known to leave scarring.

PicoSure and Q-switch are both laser treatments, but PicoSure cannot penetrate the skin as deeply as a Q-switch laser.

How Safe Is It For Your Skin?

All treatments come with a risk, and tattoo removal is no different.  There are possibilities of infection, scarring, and removal of all pigmentation of the area.  There is also a risk of bleeding, but you can rest assured that you will be cared for under the watchful eye of a dermatologist.

Most tattoos will begin to fade in about 4-6 weeks, and they will continue to fade many months after the treatment.  It is crucial to keep the treated site covered and protected from the sun to help lessen any damage that may occur.  You can allow the area to breathe more freely once the skin begins to return to normal and skin pigmentation starts returning.

Keep in mind that each patient will be affected differently with their tattoo laser removal process.  The amount of pain one patient feels may not be the same for another patient because each person has a different level of pain tolerance.  Skin color, tattoo colors, depth of ink from the tattoo, and size will factor into the length of the laser removal process.

It is pertinent to speak with a skilled and knowledgeable dermatologist to ensure that there are little to no adverse effects and the ability to reduce the risk of scarring.  Remain patient, follow all instructions provided before and after the laser treatments, and make sure that you protect the laser site until instructed otherwise by your dermatologist.