When you have a tattoo the particles of ink are too large for the body to destroy, so instead it encapsulates the particles of ink with a network of collagen fibres as the skin heals, and there the tattoo remains.
How does the YAG laser work to remove it?
The laser emits a pulse of light that is preferentially absorbed into certain colours of ink. The light enters the skin at a speed that is too fast to heat the tissues (billionths of a second), instead, it produces a ‘shock wave’ effect and breaks up the ink particles into smaller pieces, the body then recognises these particles as something that shouldn’t be there and attacks it. The particles are then removed naturally via the body’s own elimination system.
Can you treat all colours?
No. Light is measured in nanometres and there are two wavelengths of light that are emitted from this laser -one is invisible infrared light(1064nm) and the other is visible green light(532nm). The infrared wavelength is preferably absorbed into black and dark blue inks, whereas the green light is absorbed by red ink. It is possible to treat some other colours although white,yellow and bright colours are difficult. This is not usually a problem however, as lighter colours cover very easily. If you wish to cover- up an existing tattoo then the darker colours will be faded or removed, allowing you greater choice of size and colour of the cover-up design you choose.
Why is it difficult to treat colours other than red and black?
The light will only see the colour ink it is attracted to as different wavelengths absorb into different things. It is not possible to produce a laser that can see all colours as some wavelengths are too shallow when absorbed to affect the ink, others can absorb into other matter and damage the skin in the process. Another reason is that all ink pigments contain certain levels of heavy metals. Some pigments may have a higher concentration of some of these than others, and these heavy metals can react with the laser light and carbonise in the skin, turning the ink black. It is very difficult to remove the ink when this has happened so, if you have other colours you would like treating, the laser operator will perform a test patch for you to see if it is possible before proceeding.
How many treatments will it take to remove my tattoo?
Unfortunately, due to the nature of this procedure, it is impossible to predict exactly how many treatments it will take for complete results. It could take as little as 3 treatments for an amateur tattoo or as many as 10 treatments for a professionally applied tattoo. How quickly your ink fades will depend on several factors, such as the colours of your tattoo, the type of ink used and how your body responds to the treatment.
How far apart are the treatments?
Your body needs time to break down the tattoo ink pigments after each laser treatment. This is a slow process, therefore you will typically schedule each treatment a minimum of 4-6 weeks apart.
What will my skin look like after each treatment?
Your skin will most likely be red and feel like it has mild sunburn. This typically goes away after a couple of hours. There may also be some bruising. At times and with certain inks, there may be mild blistering that usually heals in about a week. After each treatment you will be given detailed instructions on how to care for your treated area.
Will the laser tattoo removal hurt?
Patients have reported that laser tattoo removal feels like a rubber band snapping quickly on your skin. In order to make each patient as comfortable as possible, we offer anesthetic (numbing) cream that can be put on the tattoo before each of your treatments. This makes the experience much less painful.
Does tattoo removal leave scars?
The type of laser used leaves virtually no scars, however, in rare cases, those with scarring disorders, such as keloids, have an increased risk of forming a scar.