Decorative tattoos have a history dating back at least 5000 years. The desire to remove them has probably existed just as long. Early attempts to remove tattoos have had less than desirable results. The use of dermabrasion, salabrasion and Argon or CO2 lasers have left behind scars in place of the tattoo.
The advent of the Q-Switched lasers has permitted the removal of most tattoo inks with a very low risk of scarring. The Q-Switched Nd: YAG laser is the newest system in this class of lasers. The Q –Switched ND:Yag laser can significantly lighten or remove many tattoo inks, and is particularly advanced in the removal of blue, black and red inks.
Is the process painful?
The Q –Switched ND:Yag laser emits light in very short flashes of light called pulses. The impact of the energy from the powerful pulse of light is similar to the snap of a thin rubber band or specks of hot bacon grease on the skin. The large majority of all patients do not require anesthesia.
How many treatment sessions will it take to remove the tattoo?
On the average, professional tattoos require 5-7 treatments, while amateur tattoos require 3-5 treatments, all spaced approximately 6-8 weeks apart. The number of treatments depends on the amount and type of ink used and the depth of the ink in the skin. Rarely, even more than ten treatments may be needed.
Do all colors of ink disappear equally as well?
No, dark (blue/black) inks and red inks fade the best. Oranges and purples usually respond well. Green and yellow inks are the most difficult to remove, although additional treatments can produce significant fading.
Will the tattoo completely disappear?
In many cases, yes. Greater than 95% fading of the tattoo may be accomplished. However, it is very important to know that over 100 tattoo inks are in use worldwide today, none of which are regulated by the FDA. Not knowing which tattoo ink, how deep or how much was used, makes it impossible for the physician to predict the degree of removal on any given tattoo.
What type of post-treatment care is necessary?
Occasionally there will be pinpoint bleeding associated with the treatment. An antibacterial ointment and a dressing will be applied to the area. The treated area should be kept clean with continued application of any ointment given to you by your physician. A shower can be taken the next day, although the treated area should not be scrubbed.