Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
Many people choose to get tattoos to express their individuality. However, over time, it’s common for men and women to feel differently and decide to have them removed. This may be due to job reasons. In other cases, getting rid of a tattoo signifies closing a particular life chapter (e.g. being with a significant other, membership in a fraternity or gang, an infatuation with a particular fashion trend ) and moving onto a new phase. This demand has led to many forms of DIY tattoo removal products. However, the only method approved by the FDA is laser tattoo removal. In this video, Dr. U answers the frequently asked question, how does tattoo removal with laser work?
How Are Tattoos Removed With Laser?
Dr. U explains that lasers emit energy in the form of highly concentrated light energy. Each laser will have a single wavelength frequency. This property is used to perform a specific job (e.g. getting rid of a particular color). A laser for tattoo removal works by breaking up tattoo pigment into smaller pieces. White blood cells of the body’s immune system can then carry the fragments away from the skin’s surface.
Providers will choose a laser based on the ink color. The patient’s skin color is another factor.
Some tattoo designs are more resistant to laser treatment. They will need more sessions.
Q-Switch Laser Tattoo Removal
Q-switch lasers deliver laser energy in short bursts or pulses to shatter the ink. Providers will need to adjust the settings based on the needs of individual patients. These parameters include:
The duration of the pulse has to do with how long each burst of energy lasts. The shorter the pulse is, the greater the impact it will have on the pigment particle.
Spot size is a metric which defines the beam’s width. A larger diameter allows the laser to reach deeper layers in the skin.
Fluence is the amount of energy delivered per square centimeter of skin surface area.
Multi-Colored Tattoo Removal With Laser
One laser is usually used for a specific color. Laser treatment on tattoos with multiple colors will require the use of dye modules. These are separate units attached to the laser system. They act as filters to change an existing wavelength, by increasing or decreasing it.
How Many Sessions Will You Need For a Successful Tattoo Removal with Laser
Some tattoo designs are easier to address than others. The number of sessions needed usually depend on the following factors.
Ink Colors Used
Darker colors absorb laser energy more readily than lighter colors. This makes them easier to shatter and remove.
Anatomical Placement of the Tattoo
Some parts of the body have more blood vessels in a given area. Examples include the central column of the body which consists of the torso, neck, head, and shoulders. A greater number of blood vessels will be able to transport white blood cells macrophages. These are needed to engulf the smaller tattoo particles and carry them away.
The extremities (i.e. arms, wrists, hands, thighs, legs, ankles and feet) will have fewer blood vessels. Generally, it is more difficult to get rid of tattoos in these areas.
Amount of Ink Used
When more ink is used to create a tattoo, more sessions are needed to remove it.
This applies to larger sized tattoos, highly saturated (i.e. richly colored designs), and layering, hen one tattoo is placed on top of another.
Presence of Scarring
Scar tissue is made of collagen fibers. When scarring develops in a tattoo region, pigment particles may become entangled in the collagen fibers and become less accessible to the laser. The patient will, therefore, need more sessions.
Age of the Tattoo
Over time, tattoo particles will migrate to deeper skin layers. Older tattoos will require a greater number of sessions.
Long-term smokers will have weaker immune systems. These patients will need more sessions to achieve a successful tattoo removal with laser
Ethnic individuals tend to have more melanin in their skin. This natural pigment easily absorbs laser energy which puts the skin at higher risk for overheating. For safety reasons, patients with darker skin tones will need more laser sessions.
Do DIY Tattoo Removal Methods Work?
Many products are being marketed to individuals who wish to become free of their tattoos. They usually claim to make tattoos less noticeable instead of removing them completely.
Should You Buy a Tattoo Removal Gel?
DIY tattoo removal products like gels and creams have a high potential for doing more harm than good. Various forms of risks include:
- permanent scars
Medical experts caution individuals to avoid using home tattoo removal products. These approaches may lead to irreversible damage. Using a tattoo removal with laser, it is possible to control the depth of the beam. However, the action of chemicals below the skin’s surface is much more unpredictable.
If you would like to consult Dr. Umar about tattoo removal, use the button below for a free online consultation.