A tattoo is indelible ink that is inserted into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment color, the ink is then trapped locally within the skin cells. The American Academy of Dermatology distinguishes 5 types of tattoos: traumatic tattoos, that result from injuries or lead; amateur tattoos; professional tattoos; cosmetic tattoos; and medical tattoos.
How Does Tattoo Ink Affect Laser Tattoo Removal
A wide range of pigments can be used in tattoos, from inorganic and organic materials such as titanium dioxide and iron oxide to carbon black, azo dyes and acridine, quinoline, phthalocyanine and naphthol derivatives. There are also dyes made from ash and other natural mixtures. Iron oxide pigments are most commonly used with cosmetic and medical tattooing. Most modern tattoo inks used today are carbon-based pigments. Tattoo inks have been described as “remarkably nonreactive histologically”. However, cases of allergic reactions to tattoo inks, particularly certain colors, have been medically documented. This is sometimes due to the presence of nickel in an ink pigment, which triggers a common metal allergy.
How Long Does Tattoo Removal Take
While tattoos are considered permanent, it is possible to safely remove them completely or partially with advanced laser treatments. Since all tattoo pigments are not the same, the removal process can vary on every patient as well. There are also a few other factors that can contribute to how quickly and effectively a tattoo can be removed. The color of the ink, darker being the easiest; density of the ink, how heavy the pigment is and depth of the pigment; age of the tattoo, faded from environment; skin type; pre existing scars, within the tattoo; and patients overall health. Amateur and black ink tattoo’s are usually the the quickest to remove. Some may be removed in a single session but most all tattoos require multiple sessions.
How Laser Tattoo Removal Works
The type of laser used can also determine how quick and effectively a tattoo can be removed. We use a multi-wavelength Q-switched laser which means we can select the best wavelength that is unique to the colors of your tattoo, type of ink, density, and skin type to provide you with the safest and most effective treatment. The laser delivers a quick pulse of energy feeling like a rubber band snap that is absorbed by the tattoo ink causing it to break apart into tiny fragments. After the ink is broken apart within the skin, the body’s lymphatic system removes the tiny particles of the tattoo ink over the following weeks. How quickly the individual see the results depends on your body’s own immune response.
Recovery from Laser Tattoo Removal
Immediately after laser tattoo removal most people will develop a “frosting” appearance on the skin, which is the formation of tiny gas bubbles that make the skin appear white or chalky-colored. This fades within 10-20 minutes following your treatment. Your skin will appear to be fully healed within a matter of days but following the session you may develop one or more of the following: mild swelling and redness of the skin surrounding the tattoo, small areas of pin-point bleeding or blisters. If you develop any blisters, don’t attempt to break them, simply cover them with a petroleum gauze bandage.If you don’t develop any blisters you can use a fragrance-free, moisturizer such as Eucerin cream for dryness/itching or natural Aloe for comfort of redness and swelling. Scarring is very uncommon with modern Q-switched lasers, however if you develop persistently red, elevated skin for more than a week, please call us and allow us to evaluate the area as there are medications that we can use to treat the skin to prevent scarring if managed early. Laser tattoo removal sessions are typically spaced six weeks apart. Treating more frequently increases the risk of adverse effects and does not necessarily increase ink absorption. At each session, some but not all of the ink particles are fragmented therefore requiring multiple treatments and the tattoo being lightened over time.