Applying tattoos to the body is common in the younger generation. They are a form of decorative body modification and are more popular than ever. Tattoos are applied with needles using a special ink or other pigments into the dermis layer of the skin. Tattoos were once considered permanent; however, it is now possible to remove them with certain treatments. There are many reasons for wanting a tattoo removed. Whatever the reasons, the most effective and safest method of removing tattoos is laser treatment. Laser treatment allows for the removal of tattoos of various sizes, colors and shapes. Laser treatment is often safer than many traditional methods because of its unique ability to selectively treat pigment involved in the tattoo. Blue and black tattoos respond especially well to laser treatment.
Patients with a history of skin hypersensitivity, keloids (scarring), skin infections such as impetigo, or prone to herpes are not advisable for laser treatment.
Tattoo removal can last from several minutes to an hour depending upon the size and type of tattoo. Anesthesia may be required depending on the location of the tattoo and the pain threshold of the patient. If required, topical anesthesia cream or pain-relieving injections at the treatment site can be used. You will be given protective eye shields to wear during the treatment. The area is cleansed on and around the tattoo to remove oils on the skin. The light from the laser passes harmlessly through the top layer of the skin. When the light hits the brown pigment cells, energy is released. This released energy is then absorbed by certain pigments (colors) within the tattoo. Multiple sessions usually scheduled at four-week intervals are needed to achieve the desired results.
Following the laser treatment, practice the following measures for better results and to avoid any complications.
- Avoid exposure to the sun.
- Use ice packs to soothe and bandages to protect the treated area.
- Use topical cream or ointment as recommended by your dermatologist.
- Avoid scrubbing, picking, or rubbing the treated area.
- Avoid swimming pools during the treatment period.
Laser treatment is associated with certain side effects including infections, hypopigmentation, hyperpigmentation, scarring, blisters, superficial cysts, bleeding, burns and scab formation.