Are You a Candidate for Laser Tattoo Removal?

arm tattooTattoos are so popular that roughly 10 percent of Americans have one, whether it is big or small. And while tattoos are supposed to be a permanent fixture on the body, 50 percent of tattoo wearers later want them erased. Luckily, laser tattoo removal has made this possibility a reality for most people. Is your tattoo removable via laser?

Lasers, or high-intensity light beams, are used to break up the ink pigment of an unwanted tattoo. Black ink is the easiest to remove because it absorbs all laser wavelengths. Colored inks, on the other hand, require special lasers with varying wavelengths to break up the pigment. Once the laser breaks up the pigment, it is reabsorbed by the body’s natural immune system.

Candidates for Laser Removal

Good general health is a basic requirement to undergo laser tattoo removal. Patients who have compromised immune systems, are diabetic, keloid sensitive or are taking specific medication that affects the skin’s integrity are not candidates for laser tattoo removal.

Have you tried other tattoo removal methods? Even tattoos that have been unsuccessfully treated in the past with other tattoo removal measures can benefit from laser treatment. The determining factor is the amount of prior scarring. Excess scarring will hinder the effectiveness of laser removal.

All skin tones can be effectively treated but the best overall results of laser tattoo removal are seen in patients with pale skin tones and dark colored tattoos. Patients with darker skin tones may see unwanted hyper-pigmentation as a result of laser tattoo removal.

How it Works

Laser tattoo removal requires multiple treatments, usually 6-10 sessions, based upon the size and colors of the tattoo. To aid healing and allow the fragmented ink to be reabsorbed by the body, sessions are scheduled 4-8 weeks apart. Laser tattoo removal sessions involve:

  • The patient and clinician wear protective eyewear, as lasers can harm the eyes.
  • Some candidates request that a local anesthetic be administered at the site; this is often not needed.
  • A hand-held transducer is placed against the skin to deliver the laser light beams.
  • An ice pack is applied to the treated area immediately after each treatment.
  • Antibiotic cream and a protective dressing are applied.

What to Expect

Most patients describe the discomfort during laser tattoo removal as moderate, similar to the pain of an elastic band snapped against the skin or a splatter of grease from a frying pan.

It is unrealistic to expect there to be no indication of a former tattoo after treatment. There is often a faint scar or mild skin color change at the site. For best results, it is important to seek tattoo removal from a professional dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

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