Laser tattoo removal uses ultra-short laser pulses to remove the ink from your skin. Generally, the common laser tattoo removal techniques can take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and should be relatively painless. You should expect mild heat and a feeling similar to a band-aid being ripped off. The affected area will appear white and bubbly, but this swelling will go away within a few days. Whether you have tattoos on your hands or on your neck, these techniques are effective in removing tattoos from all parts of your body.
Laser Tattoo Removal Techniques
1. Picosecond Lasers
Since the early 1990s, picosecond lasers have been tested as a viable option for tattoo removal. This technology has been compared to nanosecond lasers and has been shown to have fewer side effects and be less sensitive to the skin. Compared to nanosecond lasers, picosecond lasers have shorter pulse durations and are also thought to produce less non-specific targeting.
The concept of selective photothermolysis developed by Anderson and Parrish provides the basis for selective pigment targeting. According to their research, the thermal relaxation time of a target chromophore is proportional to its diameter. This may be optimal for tattoo removal and minimizing collateral damage, but this remains to be studied.
Getting a tattoo and removing it later is a tough and risky process. Therefore, many people prefer to get temporary tattoos. You can get temporary tattoos in many and if you don’t like them later, get rid of them instantly.
2. Non-Ablative Lasers
Non-ablative lasers for tattoo removal are effective in removing ink from the skin, but not all tattoos can be treated successfully. Tattoos can resist laser treatment, and some may leave behind a thick scar. Additionally, the more aggressive parameters of the procedure can interfere with the body’s immune system, which may lead to ink retention and scarring.
Ablative lasers use high-energy beams to remove ink, but their invasive nature means that they can result in long-term side effects. Patients typically require at least two weeks of downtime after a laser treatment. During this time, patients may experience sensitivity, crusting, or swelling. As a result, non-ablative lasers were developed to offer similar results. Non-ablative lasers use much less energy to achieve results, so you can get back to your regular activities right away.
3. Pulsed Lasers
Pulsed lasers for tattoo removal can eliminate the ink from a tattoo. A recent study examined the efficacy of this treatment with a Q-switched alexandrite laser. This treatment is considered safe and effective for tattoo removal. Typically, patients undergo four to 10 sessions over the course of one to two months. It requires minimal recovery time and does not leave any scarring. However, about half of patients experience transient hypopigmentation.
A major advantage of pulsed lasers for tattoo removal is that they produce fewer side effects than other forms of laser treatments. This is due in part to the fact that the tattoo pigment is more superficial and therefore requires fewer treatments. Moreover, the larger spot size allows the laser to spread light more evenly on the tattoo.
4. Selective Photothermolysis
One of the most effective laser tattoo removal techniques. Selective photothermolysis for laser tattoo removers uses a carbon-oxide laser to vaporize the upper layers of the skin and clear tattoo ink through transepidermal migration. This process causes a temporary crust over the tattoo, which gradually sloughs off. Some pigmentation may remain within the crust. This is a common side effect of laser treatments and should be taken into account before starting this process.
Selective photothermolysis involves the use of a laser that has a pulse duration and wavelength that are tailored to break up tattoo pigment particles. These particles have a thermal relaxation time of between 0.1 and 10 nanoseconds. Because of this, the shorter the laser pulse, the greater the efficiency of breaking down tattoo pigment particles.
Ink Retention After Laser Tattoo Removal
Ink retention after laser tattoo removal is a common side effect. The treatment involves applying a topical anesthetic to the skin for an hour, then the laser will be used to vaporize the ink. Depending on the color of the ink, the laser will cause the top layer of the ink to shatter into fragments. Following the treatment, the skin turns white and the ink fragments gradually dissolve into the body over several months.
If patients experience ink retention, it’s likely they were not informed about the number of treatments needed or the intervals between treatments. This may lead to additional treatments and re-education. It’s important for patients to be aware of how many treatments they’ll need in order to achieve the desired result.