About Tattoo Removal
Tattoo removal, also known as laser tattoo removal and body art removal.
Tattoo ink resides underneath the top layer of skin, making it very difficult to remove. Most patients find they need to return for multiple treatment sessions, or in some rare cases even surgical removal. Laser tattoo removal is considered a non-invasive procedure that uses a Q-switched laser to break down the ink of an unwanted tattoo. The process causes minimal damage to surrounding tissues and has become more and more popular in line with the growth in popularity of tattoos over recent decades.
Tattoo removal is most commonly performed using lasers. These lasers break down the ink particles in the tattoo. Once the ink is broken down, it is then absorbed by the body which mimics the natural fading that sun exposure or time would create. Laser tattoo removal generally takes several sessions which are spaced several weeks apart.
How is it performed?
The most effective energy level for your treatment will be determined with a small test of your skin’s reaction to the laser. Your surgeon will place a hand piece against your skin and activate the laser light. The hand piece emits an extremely short pulse of laser light that is absorbed by the tattoo, causing the dye to begin to break down, but has very little effect on the surrounding tissue.
The by-products of the treatment will be removed by the body’s own immune system as part of the healing process. Fewer pulses will be needed for smaller tattoos while a larger one will require more, but no matter the size, you will require multiple treatment sessions to get the full effect.
What are my options?
The preferred method for tattoo removal is currently Q-switched laser therapy. There are a several Q-switched laser devices available, with different lasers being more suited for different tattoos. Once your surgeon has evaluated your tattoo, they will be able to decide which is best suited to you, depending on several variables.
Removing a tattoo surgically is far more invasive than using a laser, but this may be a suitable option in certain circumstances. Surgical tattoo removal is more precise than a laser, but does have the downside of some scarring in the area.
What result can I expect?
The most common side effect reported is a slight lightening of the skin in the treatment area, but this is usually short-lived.
- Tattoo removal is very effective and has very few side effects
- It is a completely non-invasive procedure
- There no recovery time necessary for this type of treatment
- You will probably need several sessions before your tattoo has been removed completely
- There is always the possibility of scarring or changes in skin tone and texture
In most cases you may return to your normal daily activities immediately after your treatment. It is essential you follow all patient care instructions given to you by your physician. During your consultation with your surgeon, they will talk to you about the normal signs of recovery and what to look out for to avoid complications. It is completely normal to experience mild pain or discomfort for up to forty-eight hours following treatment. In most cases, this pain can be managed by applying an ice pack to the affected area.
You may notice a slightly elevated white discolouration and possible pinpoint bleeding in the treatment area immediately following the procedure. Minimal erythema and edema of surrounding skin may also occur. These symptoms will typically resolve themselves within twenty four hours.
A crust will then form over the entire tattoo as it heals, falling off after about two weeks. If you experience extreme or long-lasting pain or redness and swelling after treatment contact your surgeon to find out that these are symptoms are normal or a sign of a problem. You will notice your tattoo gradually fading over the eight week healing period following the procedure. Remember that recovery time will vary between people because your body is different to everyone else’s.
Limits & Risks
There are very few reported cases of complications from tattoo removals, but your surgeon will discuss any risks during your consultation.