Tattooing is an old art that is gaining popularity today particularly among the young. After some time, a tattoo may go out of fashion, people may not like the shape or color of their tattoo, develop an allergic reaction to it, or want to avoid the social stigma of having a tattoo. Old removal methods have included dermabrasion, chemical peels and surgical removal, all which leave unacceptable scarring and may not completely remove a tattoo.
Treatment with a laser for tattoos is safer than traditional methods because of the laser's unique ability to selectively treat the pigment in the tattoo. The laser will eliminate the tattoo pigment while leaving the surrounding skin intact. This works for amateur, professional and cosmetic tattoos. At The Skin Clinic, we use Q-switched Alexandrite laser, the optimal laser for removal of green black tattoos. This high intensity laser delivers very quick nanosecond pulses, which cause the pigment to burst and be removed by the body’s natural immune system. For colored cosmetic tattoos, we may use fractional lasers or combine them with the Q switched laser. Other lasers such as the hair removal laser may leave unacceptable scars and are not recommended but unfortunately are used commonly in commercial centers.
The effectiveness of the laser is dependent upon the location and the depth of the tattoo, as well as the composition of the pigments, which gives the tattoo its color. Amateur tattoos are the easiest to remove because they are usually made up of a single color/pigment that is placed superficially, while professional tattoos are composed of several pigments and are placed deeper in the dermis. In general, blue/black color is the easiest to remove, while bright to tan colors are more difficult. All tattoos will require re-treatment at 4-6 weeks intervals. Overall 2-4 treatment sessions are needed for amateur tattoos, and 3-12 sessions are needed for professional tattoos, depending on their density, color and type of pigment.
In order to provide faster results, we are proud to be the first center to provide the PFD (perfluorodecalin) patch, FDA approved for tattoo removal. This patch when placed over tattoos prior to irradiation, allows us to treat them more efficiently by enabling rapid multiple laser passes in a single treatment session.